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The Earl of Halifax’s great, great, great grandfather, Sir Francis Wood purchased the embryonic Garrowby Estate in 1803. The estate had previously been owned by the Remington family for 200 years, before part of the family left to go to America and form the Remington Firearms Company.
Sir Francis was a wealthy merchant in the East India Company and was living at Bowling Hall at Bradford and at Hemsworth. It is thought that Sir Francis had been attracted by the peace and quiet of the East Riding of Yorkshire to get away from the busy West Riding, which was the centre of the rapidly expanding woollen industry at the time. However, he continued to spend the majority of his time in the West Riding and indeed The First Earl of Halifax, Lord Halifax’s grandfather, was the first member of the family who made Garrowby their permanent home. Prior to that the estate was mainly used for sporting purposes.
The First Earl acquired the estate in 1907. It became his family home in 1909 and remained so until his death in 1959. The First Earl took every opportunity to acquire land, particularly in the few years immediately after the First World War when a quarter of the agricultural land in England and Wales changed ownership during the worst of the farming depression. He made his large purchases from Colonel Sir Mark Sykes, owner of Sledmere Estate, the most significant of which was 2,529 acres including part of Bishop Wilton village, acquired at auction in October 1917. Smaller acquisitions have followed over the subsequent 100 years and Garrowby Estate now extends to 13,230 acres.
Hickleton Hall and the surrounding 2,000 acre estate between Barnsley and Doncaster was purchased around 20 years after Garrowby, from the Fitzwilliam family at Wentworth. It became the principal home of three generations of the Halifax family until the death of Charles, Second Viscount Halifax in 1934 when his son, Edward, the First Earl of Halifax, made Garrowby his main residence between enforced absences fulfilling his roles as Viceroy of India and Foreign Secretary.
The house at Hickleton was subsequently used as a school and as a Sue Ryder Care Home, but is now a private residence again.
Much of the land was mined during the last century and the ex-mining villages of Goldthorpe and Thurnscoe neighbour the estate.
Heslington Estate, which now extends to 2,390 acres, was purchased by The Second Earl from Lord Deramore in 1964. It was an astute addition due to its location on the south east edge of York and the development opportunities offered by this.
The purchase coincided with the formation of the University of York and following completion of development of the University’s West Campus around Heslington Hall, further expansion has taken place on estate land, including East Campus which is being built on 240 acres of land let to the University on a long lease.
Haywold, located on the Yorkshire Wolds near Driffield, was purchased from Sir Richard Prince-Smith in the mid 1970’s. The estate is predominantly one 1,980 acre let farm.
The large and historic mansion of Temple Newsam on the eastern outskirts of Leeds, with its adjoining parkland and estate, was bequeathed to the Second Viscount Halifax in 1904, through marriage and the subsequent death of his sister, Emily Meynell Ingram.
During the First World War the house was used as a hospital for wounded soldiers and as a home for refugees from invaded Belgium. However, shortly after the end of the war the house was gifted to the City of Leeds.
The land was extensively open cast mined in the 1960’s and thereafter sold in parcels as the city expanded. Now all that remains is a 95 acre farm which is being developed with large warehousing and distribution units.
In addition to the main estates, the family own farms at Norton near Malton in North Yorkshire, Dunnington near York, Ulley near Sheffield and also historic racing stables at Epsom in Surrey.