|1785 - 17 February. It appears that by
this time John Hall Stevenson of Skelton Castle had become a
In a letter to his grandson of this date he speaks of financial problems.
He also claims to have not enjoyed many pleasures in life and blames this on an unhappy marriage which he entered at too young an age.
March - John Hall-Stevenson died at the age of 67, 52 years
after inheriting Skelton estate.
1786 - Death of Joseph William Hall-Stevenson, aged 45,
just one year after inheriting Skelton estate.
He was married to Anne, the daughter of James Forster of Drumgoon, Co
They had 5 children, John, Fanny, Margaret, William [who became vicar
of Gilling], and James [who became a Major General in the 21st Light
He was succeeded by his son John Hall-Stevenson.
1787 - Income tax had not yet been introduced, but the government gathered revenue in other ways.
Receivers were appointed and collected taxes quarterly on :- Land [4 shillings in every 20 that the land could be leased for]
Windows [on all houses having more than 6 windows]
As well as Houses, Shops, Servants, Carriages, Wagons, Carts and horses.
1788 - The old castle was torn down and the present one built by John Hall Stevenson.
[On May 6th in this year he changed his name by "royal sign manual" to John Wharton.
He was condemned at the time by at least one person -
"he commenced the work of destruction and, at enormous expense, contrived to flood the glen, demolish the terraces, pull down
every remnant of Norman antiquity, including a magnificent tower;
But Baines gazetteer of 1823 thought otherwise:-
"It presents an elegant, extended front, situated on the brink of a rivulet which by being collected into a reservoir with sloping banks adds greatly to the natural beauties of the place"
[What a gateway to the past Skelton would have had, as well as a tourist attraction, if the ancient Castle, with all this great history, still stood and was open to the public].The finance to rebuild the castle probably came from John's rich aunt Margaret Wharton. [See 1791]. Baines gazetteer records:-
"This lady whose habits were of the most saving kind as far as her own personal expenses were concerned possessed a fortune of £200,000 and amongst the rest of her oddities chose to act as her own executrix and actually made a present during her own lifetime of £100,000 to her nephew, the present worthy possessor of Skelton Castle."
Allowing for inflation £100,000 in 1788 would be worth over 7 million in the year 2000
The plans for the new Castle were drawn by Sir John Soane R,A. in 1787. Soane was born in 1753 and became the leading architect of his day, being made Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy in 1809.
Architects involved in the rebuilding of Skelton Castle.
He created new ideas for internal design and
lighting and among many new structures and alterations around the
country was responsible for a new Bank of England building in London
and the state dining room at 10 Downing St. His own house in Lincoln
Inn Fields in London is now the Sir John Soane Museum. His designs were
often carried out by a local builder so what was built is an
interpretation of his ideas. Soanes archives state for Skelton Castle:-
"Skelton Hall, Yorks/ John Hall (later Wharton)/ Rebuilding of house: Alts to house, new kitchen wing, lodges and stables/ Rebuilding unexecuted; All else executed and extant, except lodges which are possibly unexecuted and now demolished"
Prior to these changes entry to the Castle had always been
directly in front, by what is now Church Lane, leading to old
The alterations took some 30 years to complete and other architects involved were Sir William Chambers and Ignatius Bonomi, of North East Railways fame.