Many lamented the loss of the splendid gardens and others the dispersal of the contents but few mourned when the then unfashionable (and remarkably, unlisted) Warter Priory was demolished. However, as with many of these houses, its demolition meant the loss of one the most impressive and architecturally interesting houses in the country.
Built in the late 17th or early 18th century, Warter Hall, as it was then known, started as a modest two-storey, five-bay country house. Even after over 150 years of alterations that original house could still be identified as the central part of the south front. In the 1830s it took on the name Warter Priory after the old Augustinian priory in the village. The major extensions occurred during the Victorian-era when in 1872 it was re-fronted and corner towers added and then again in 1885 when the great ‘baronial’ hall and the tall entrance tower were added.
The 1872 additions, designed almost certainly by W.G. Habershon and A.R. Pite, were not considered a success. The pseudo-Chateau style corner towers, with their steeply sloping roofs, sat uncomfortably with the original house.
Unexpectedly, the fifth (and last) Lord Muncaster sold the house in 1878 to Charles Wilson, a Hull shipping magnate, who was created Lord Nunburnholme in 1906. With the guidance of the architects Smith and Broderick of Hull, Wilson undertook the next round of impressive alterations, adding a great hall, a three-storey clock tower over the entrance and a grand marble staircase. These changes produced a house with nearly 100 rooms – over 30 of which were bedrooms.
Lord Nunburnholme died in 1907 and his widow presided over the house and estate for another 20 years. In 1929 the house was sold to the Hon. George Ellis Vestey who retained the many staff and maintained the extensive and impressive gardens. On his death the house and 14,500 acre estate were sold to the 4th Marquis of Normanby and the Guiness Family Trust in December 1968.
The Marquis bought Warter as a subsidiary shooting lodge and did not intend to live there as his principal family seat was at Musgrave Castle. The contents were auctioned in March 1969, the garden statuary the following September. Attempts were made to find a tenant but when one could not be found it was decided to demolish the house and a final auction of all the remaining furniture and fittings, down the last loo seat, was held in May 1972. Shortly afterwards the house was demolished, the splendid gardens bulldozed and the rubble used to fill in the nearby lake.
Further information and photos: EnglandsPast.net - Warter Priory