Although the house has been completely restored, it retains the elegance and charm of its historic past
The Old Presbytery has an elegant past. We believe the original house was built as a Monks Lodge or Mason’s house in the 14th century built in the shape for a true cross; In the 1700’s Admiral Hawke had his ‘Farm Husbandman’ or manager of the 1,000 acres living here, later in early 1800 it was extended to its present form. From 1854 the house was used as a Presbytery for the beautiful private Catholic Church in the park grounds behind the house later given to the Catholic diocese who then sold the whole estate in 1984 when Chris & Christine purchased the Presbytery to run as an agricultural and forestry business. In 2003 a complete renovation was undertaken prior to opening as a guest house.
The local area around the Old Presbytery also has an interesting history. The Presbytery stands adjacent to the Vale of York. When the Presbytery was built London Road was the main road to York via the River Aire crossing at Ferrybridge and the river crossing of the Wharfe at Tadcaster.
The Ash Tree at Barkston Ash (the closest village) is reported to have been the centre of the Old Yorkshire Ridings before the re-organisation of the boundaries.
On Palm Sunday in the Year 1461 there was a famous battle at the nearby village of Towton. This took place between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians, where 28,000 souls lost their lives. The site of the battle lies just 1 mile North of the House.
Edward Hawke, 1st Baron Hawke
Lord Hawke and then his son Baldon Hawke owned the estate prior to the Maxwell’s.
Edward Hawke was born on 21st February 1710 in London and joined the navy in February 1720 being promoted to no less than Rear Admiral for his distinguished service against the French in the War of the Austrian Succession. In October 1747 he captured six French warships in a brilliant action that took place off the coast of Brittany.
In 1790-91 Lord Hawke employed John Davenport to make a lake and build a bridge across it. The lake still exists but no sign of a bridge.
Lord Hawke had a large, 1200-acre farm the farmstead being what are now the golf course and farm buildings, this farm is mentioned in a survey of the West Riding in 1794.
Residence for the priest
The house was renovated in 2003-04 by Chris and Christine Dennis, the present owners since 1984 when we purchased the house from Leeds Catholic Dioceses.
The Catholic Dioceses owned the property from the 1950s having been left the whole of the Scarthingwell Estate by the Maxwell-Stuarts.
In1849 the property change hands to the Honourable Philip Stourton and Joseph Constable Maxwell from Henry and Julian Constable Maxwell for £6,757.14s 6d
In 1854 the Maxwell’s built the Roman Catholic Church onto Scarthingwell Hall, from then until 1984 the house was used as a Presbytery (residence for the priest).
The beautiful Roman Catholic Church is still there (right of Scarthingwell Hall) but the hall was demolished in the early 1960s. On the site is now a nursing home but the walled garden which lies behind the nursing home still exists with its heated walls.
The extension is the section to the left of the photo with the long sloping roof. The original house is in the shape of a square cross, North South East West orientated.
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“Stayed here in January ‘18. Highly recommend if you want peace and quiet. Close to Tadcaster – 4 miles. I stayed in the walnut room which was comfy and clean. Nothing much to do on a cold night in January but write a report up from the daytime. I rarely do that in communal areas, but the attraction of the wood burning stove was irresistible. Three hours later, I was ready for a good nights sleep which I got. The breakfast was perfect as were my hosts”.