Gardens and a park laid out in the 1760s by Richard Woods, and parkland added in the late C18/early C19.
The Cannon Hall estate was owned in the C13 by the Canum family and was sold in the late C14 to the Bosvilles of Ardsley. In the C17 the estate was acquired by the Spencer family of Cawthorne. John Spencer was responsible for extensive works on the house and grounds in the 1760s, which were executed to designs by Richard Woods (1716-93) who produced a map showing his proposals in 1760. Additions to the park of the late C18 or early C19 were carried out for Walter Spencer Stanhope, John Spencer's nephew and heir. A series of drawings showing views of Cannon Hall and other locations in the area was made in 1809 by John Nattes, who was a drawing master at Cannon Hall. The estate remained in the family until the sale of the Hall and part of the park to the County Borough of Barnsley in 1951. The Hall is a museum, and the gardens and part of the park immediately south of the Hall are in use as a public park (1998). The remainder of the parkland is privately owned and in use for pasture and arable cultivation.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Cannon Hall is situated c 6km west of Barnsley immediately north-west of the village of Cawthorne in an area which is rural and agricultural. The c 100ha site is on land which slopes downwards to the south and then gently upwards from the valley of the Daking Brook south of the Hall. The west boundary is formed by New Road, where there is a stone wall, the southern edge of Garden Plantation and a walled garden west of the Hall, the line of the principal drive south of this, and by Bark House Lane. The north boundary is a stone wall which runs from New Road along the outer edge of fields, a fishpond, and a patch of woodland called the Rookery. On the east side of the Rookery a track runs southwards to a point c 300m north-east of the Hall where the boundary continues southwards as a stone wall surmounted by cast-iron fencing set into a ditch. An earlier boundary in the form of a ditch with wall footings at its base runs as a continuation of this ditch northwards to the west side of the Rookery, and this is shown as the edge of an area called the Little Park on Woods' 1760 map. This map shows the old line of the road, which ran east of the line of New Road forming the west side of Little Park, but there is no obvious sign of this boundary above ground. The north boundary of Little Park has also been lost within the area imparked when the road was realigned and North Lodge constructed, late C18 or early C19. The boundary along the south and south-east sides is formed by walls and fencing. John Spencer records a contract for building a park wall with copings in 1761 and some stretches of walling may represent the work which was done at that time.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The principal entrance is at the junction of New Road and Bark House Lane where there is a late C19 lodge. A drive runs northwards from this on the line of the former public road. The drive turns to the east and runs along the north side of the pleasure grounds to Home Farm on the north side of the Hall. Running parallel to this from a late C20 car park south of the lodge, is a pathway which is shown as a drive on the Richard Woods map of 1760. This turns eastwards to approach the Hall as an avenue of lime trees. There is a drive leading from Cawthorne, as shown on Woods' map, which crosses a lake via a bridge (c 1762, listed grade II) and continues northwards to a gateway and then on to Home Farm via a route lined on the east side by lime trees, as shown on the 1850 OS map. Woods suggested a more circuitous approach, with the drive leading north-east before swinging around to the north-west. There is another entrance on the north-west side of the site where there is a pair of lodges (listed grade II) called North Lodge, shown in a drawing by Nattes of 1809 but not marked on the Woods map. The 1850 OS map shows a drive leading south-east to the Hall, and this survives for part of its length as a track. Other entrances to the site are informal.
Cannon Hall (listed grade II*) is probably of late C17 origin and built on or near the site of a dwelling recorded on the site in the C14. A sketch drawing of c 1719 shows a simple classical house. The building was remodelled by John Carr (1723-1811) on three occasions; from 1764 to 1768, in 1778, and again in 1804. A wing was added to the north-east in 1896(7. The Hall is situated close to the centre of the park on a hillside site which gives views to the south from the principal elevation. A home farm complex lies immediately north of the Hall and consists of a range of buildings including stables, a coach house, cottages and a farmhouse of late C18 date (all listed grade II). Cannon Hall is currently (1998) in use as a museum.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
There are pleasure grounds on all sides of the Hall apart from the Home Farm and kitchen garden areas to the north and north-east. A terrace on the south front overlooks sloping lawns and a ha-ha, which divides the south and part of the east sides of the pleasure grounds from the park. The terrace has views over parkland and lakes to the south. The west side of the terrace connects with the drive from the south-west and the lime avenue, while on the east side paths lead eastwards to a formal garden between the walls of the kitchen garden and the ha-ha. This garden is overlooked by a garden building (listed grade II) c 80m east of the Hall, called the Camellia House or the Orangery, which is shown on Woods' map, and could be the 'pinery' Spencer refers to in his diary. It is set on a plinth against the outer wall of the kitchen garden overlooking lawns with geometric beds and a clipped yew hedge to the south, with views over parkland and lakes beyond the ha-ha. Some 20m west of the Camellia House there are two small garden buildings also set against the outer wall of the kitchen garden. They have arched openings which are glazed.
A path leads east from the south-east corner of the formal garden to a pool, c 200m south-east of the Hall, which is overlooked on its south side by the remains of a C16 tracery window (listed grade II) and on the west side by a C16 archway (listed grade II); both were brought to the site in the late C19. Paths lead around the pool and on eastwards through an area planted with shrubs and scattered mature trees to a point c 250m east of the Hall where there are more fragments of windows in Perpendicular style (listed grade II) forming an entrance to the pleasure grounds from the park where there is a bridge over the ha-ha. The remaining pleasure grounds, including an area on the west side of the Hall, consist of paths leading through informally planted trees, including mature examples of beech, oak, pine and sweet chestnut with an understorey of shrubs including rhododendrons. The pleasure grounds were laid out by Richard Woods and are shown on the 1760 map with a pattern of planting which conforms broadly to what exists today. John Spencer's diary makes various references to the gardens including an entry in October 1761 recording the completion of the ha-ha.
There is parkland on all sides of the Hall. To the south, on land which slopes gently downwards, there is open grassland with clumps of trees which include mature examples of oak, beech and chestnut in an area known as the Deer Park. This must have been enclosed by 1762 as John Spencer's diary entry for 6 February in that year describes fetching deer for the park from nearby Gunthwaite Park. On the west side of this area, c 280m south-west of the Hall, there is a deer shelter (listed grade II). This is shown on the 1850 OS map and is a late C19 rebuilding of a simple thatched structure with piers supporting the roof shown in a drawing of 1809 by Nattes.
Within the Deer Park, c 450m south of the Hall, there is a series of lakes and cascades. Bark House Lane crosses the Daking Brook as it enters the park via Cascade Bridge (listed grade II) which has a stone balustrade. Immediately north of this water also flows beneath a second bridge and then descends as a cascade into a lake of serpentine form. The lake narrows and the water cascades into an elongated serpentine lake with an island. A third cascade leads to a continuation of the lake which is crossed by the bridge carrying the drive from Cawthorne. Some 200m to the east of this there is another cascade, from which point the water reverts to its natural course as the Daking Brook. Paths lead through mature trees on each side of the lakes. The lakes, bridges and cascades were constructed to Woods' designs during the period 1760-4, and Spencer's diary has many references to the work as it proceeded. The planting in this part of the park is managed so that there are views of the water from the Hall and of the Hall from the waterside framed by trees. This is illustrated in an engraving of 1821 (Neale 1821) showing a view from the lakeside which conforms closely with views obtainable today and with the general disposition of planting on Woods' plan. Spencer's diary makes it clear that the work involved removing and transplanting 'large trees', suggesting that there was some mature tree cover before the work began.
In the south-east corner of the site, south of the Daking Brook, there is a patch of woodland, including areas of late C20 planting, within which is a clearing and a cricket pitch. There is planting along the western perimeter of the parkland as suggested on the Woods plan and referred to in Spencer's diary. The parkland south of the lakes is in use as arable and pasture land with scattered mature trees. Woods showed this area with perimeter planting and clumps, which is shown in similar form on the 1850 OS map.
On the north side of the Hall the park is in use as pasture land. There are a few scattered trees which appear to be less mature than those in the Deer Park. Woods shows the southern part of this area, which he described as the Little Park, with thinner bands of perimeter planting than parkland to the south, and fewer clumps. This planting has largely disappeared. There are views over the valley to the village of Cawthorne and the prominent tower of All Saints' church (listed grade II*) from many points in this part of the park.
An eyecatcher, called Tower Cottage (listed grade II), lies on the west side of New Road c 600m north-west of the Hall. This is visible from the north-west side of the site and may have been designed to mirror the form of All Saints' church tower on the other side of the valley. Some 400m west of Tower Cottage, a summerhouse (listed grade II) is situated at the junction of trackways leading through fields and woodland. Both structures were probably designed as incidents to be encountered on rides outside the park boundary; both are outside the registered area.
Immediately east of Home Farm there is a garden of sub-rectangular shape walled with red brick. A gardener's house (listed grade II) is situated in the south-west corner. The south wall (listed grade II with the Camellia House) has two arched stone entrances with ornate iron gates on each side of the Camellia House. A third opening with a similar gate is positioned midway between the other two in the rear wall of the Camellia House. There are a number of glasshouses of C20 date within the garden. The inner walls are planted with mature espaliered fruit trees, mainly pears, which include some varieties introduced in the C18 and C19. The garden is shown on Woods' plan and it was constructed during the period which followed an agreement on the costs of the work which John Spencer records in his diary in April 1760.
A second kitchen garden, c 250m west of the Hall, also with a gardener's cottage (walls and cottage listed grade II) is shown on the 1850 OS map but not the Woods map. It is probably of late C18 or early C19 date, perhaps contemporary with the other improvements made to the Hall and park during that period. Cottage and garden walls have late C20 alterations and they are in use as a private residence and garden (1998).
J P Neale, Views of the Seats of Noblemen... (1821) [Cannon Hall, Yorkshire, reproduced in Sheeran 1990, p 52]
N Pevsner The Buildings of England: Yorkshire The West Riding (1967), p 156
Cannon Hall, guidebook, (c 1980)
G Sheeran, Landscape Gardens in West Yorkshire 1680(1880 (1990), pp 50-4
B Jackson, Cawthorne 1790-1990 (1991), pp 1-3, 15, 17, 21, 23-5
R Woods, Cannon Hall, the seat of John Spencer, 1760 (Spencer-Stanhope Collection (Spst), additional deposit, map 101, Sheffield Archives)
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1850
provisional edition 1929
Diary of John Spencer, (Spst 60633/13), (Sheffield Archives)
J C Nattes, Views from Nature by J.C. Nattes from August 11th to the 26th 1809. Cannon Hall and Wentworth Castle, Yorkshire. (Copies held at Cannon Hall and at Cawthorne Victoria Jubilee Museum) [some pages reproduced in Jackson 1991]
Painting of Cannon Hall from the east by Peter de Wint, 1813 (at Cannon Hall)
Additional research and information from John Hislop.
Description written: June 1998
Register Inspector: CEH
Edited: November 1999