Park with C17 origins, pleasure grounds probably of the late C18 with C19 additions, and a kitchen garden of the C18.
The Ribston estate was owned by the Knights Templar in the C13. The lands were confiscated by Henry VIII and acquired by Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, who sold the manor to Henry Goodricke of Wisbech in 1545. It remained in the Goodricke family until 1833 when Sir Henry James Goodricke bequeathed it to Francis Holyoake who sold it to the Dent family in 1836. The site is famous as the home of a variety of apple called the Ribston Pippin which was raised there in the C18 from a seed brought from France. The tree, or one thought to be the original tree, is marked on the OS 1st edition 6" map of 1848 and subsequent editions. The site remains (2000) in private ownership.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Ribston Hall lies immediately north-east of the village of Little Ribston in a rural and agricultural setting. The c 287ha site is on level land in the valley of the River Nidd, which forms part of the boundary to the west and south. The boundary follows Gundrifs Beck from the north-west corner of the site to the point at which it flows into the Nidd, which is the boundary as far as Little Ribston. On the south-west side the boundary is formed by part of Wetherby Road in Little Ribston, the Crimple Beck, and then the Nidd as far as Walshford. Remaining boundaries are formed by fences separating parkland from fields.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
An entrance with lodges (late C18, probably by John Carr, listed grade II) lies in the village of Walshford, at the south-east tip of the site. From here a drive called The Avenue runs west to the Hall. An entrance on Wetherby Road in Little Ribston leads to a drive which runs north-east to the Nidd where there are lodges, gate piers, and gates (listed grade II) and a bridge dated 1855 (listed grade II). The drive loops around to the west and joins The Avenue at a point close to the position of ornamental gates shown on an early C18 engraving by Knyff & Kip (1714); no visible trace of these remains. A number of informal entrances are disposed around the north side of the site.
Ribston Hall (listed grade II*) was built on or near the site of an earlier house in 1674 for Sir Henry Goodricke. The building, with a hipped roof and doorways with columns and pediments, was an example of advanced provincial taste which influenced the design of other Yorkshire houses such as Nun Appleton Hall (qv) and Newby Hall (qv). It was remodelled in the C18, probably by John Carr of York (1723-1807). The Chapel of St Andrew (listed separately grade II*) is attached to the south-east side of the Hall. This appears to have C13 origins and some fabric of that date. It was dedicated and reconsecrated by the Bishop of Philippi in 1444 and restored in 1700 and again during the C19. The buildings lie on a platform overlooking the Nidd; the Knyff & Kip engraving shows a pronounced rectangular bank around the Hall and garden which could have originated as a moat.
A late C18 stable block (late C18, probably by John Carr, listed grade II*) lies c 50m north of the Hall. The interior retains some C18 stalls shown in a painting of 1783 by T Thackeray (reproduced in CL 1973). Ribston Hall is in use as a private residence (2000).
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
The entrance (east) front of the Hall overlooks a forecourt beyond which there are views of the park. Grassland is fringed by trees and within the trees, c 250m north of the Hall, there is a large pond called Platanus Pond. A painting of c 1690 (reproduced in CL 1973) shows this east side of the building with low wings projecting on each side and a low balustraded wall extending from them to form a courtyard. A walled garden attached to the courtyard is shown with central gate piers and gates aligned with the entrance to the Hall.
The west front has a terrace with steps at each end and a terrace wall with urns (C19, listed grade II) as shown on photographs of c 1911 (Holme 1911). The steps lead down to grassed slopes and there are views to the south-west over the park and the Nidd. A path leads north through wooded pleasure grounds to the kitchen garden, to the west of which is a pinetum, planted by Joseph Dent probably in the 1860s. A gothic folly (listed grade II) lies c 300m north-west of the Hall. It is probably of mid to late C19 date and appears to incorporate medieval material, possibly from Hunsingore old church which was demolished by Joseph Dent in 1867. Nearby, a rustic bridge (listed grade II) lies c 250m north-north-west of the Hall. This part of the pleasure grounds was probably laid out by Dent when he planted the pinetum. A ha-ha (probably C18, listed grade II) encloses the gardens and pleasure grounds on this side. It runs from the chapel on the south-east side of the Hall to the gothic folly on the north side. This side of the Hall appears on the Knyff & Kipp view which shows a broad terrace with central steps leading down to a lower garden. Walls enclosed this area and continued around formal gardens on each of the other sides of the Hall.
There is parkland on all sides of the Hall. To the west an area of grassland with scattered trees called Parson's Croft lies in the loop of the river. On the other side of the river, South Park is open grassland with some scattered trees. A rectangular earthwork, probably the remains of a fishpond, is situated c 400m east of the Hall, and immediately east of this two blocks of woodland, that to the north called Sandbars Wood and that to the south called Rookery, stand on either side of a rectangular area of grassland called the Tilting Ground. This side of the park is studded with scattered trees, some of which follow the lines of field boundaries.
A walled kitchen garden (probably C18, walls listed grade II) lies c 150m north of the Hall. The walls are of red brick with stone coping. A two-storey building on the south side, also probably of C18 date, incorporates an arched opening which leads to a conservatory attached to the outer south wall of the garden. On the north side there is a gardener's house and bothy which were converted in the C20. At the north end of the east and west walls there are opposed gateways and gates. Another gate at the south end of the west wall has a gothic arch surmounted by a grotesque Janus head probably of C17 date.
L Knyff & J Kip, Britanna Illustrata I, (1714), pl 61
Country Life, 19 (10 May 1906), pp 198-205; 154 (11 October 1973), pp 1050-3; (18 October 1973), pp 1142-5
C Holme, The Gardens of England in Northern Counties (1911), pls 104-08
N Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire the West Riding (1959), pp 44, 399-400
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1846-8, published 1850
3rd edition published 1910
OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1892, published 1893
2nd edition published 1909
Description written: March 2000
Register Inspector: CH
Edited: October 2004