Shincliffe Hall Up for Sale
(10 February 2005)
After many glorious years of housing Durham University students, the magnificent historic Shincliffe Hall has been put up for sale.
Its 3.8 acres and outstanding views presented a beautiful setting for student accommodation for over 50 years. However, plans are to get all the Ustinov College accommodation, which has been included up until now, to the Howlands site off South Road, Durham in the future.
This means that the University has decided to sell it. Whoever its next owner will be, the striking building comes with a long and rich history, detailed below.
Shincliffe Hall – a historical note
The present buildings, and the name Shincliffe Hall, date from the 1820s when extensions were completed on an earlier 18th century building.
The first recorded occupant of the previous property was William Rudd, who became steward and recorder of Durham in 1764 and resigned in 1767. Towards the end of the 18th century, a house on the site was owned by John Thomas Hendry Hopper, of Witton Castle. The Hoppers are reputed to have been the family who lived in the village of Shincliffe for the greatest length of time – said to be around 300 years.
The house was sold by J.T.H. Hopper to William Hutton of Carleton Hall, Cumberland in 1796 and was still in their possession at the time of the marriage between Lt. John Prince and Isabella Cradock in 1821. Using money from Isabella’s dowry, Prince extended part of the existing Mansion House to create Shincliffe Hall, bringing the name into use for the first time. The design was partly copied from Isabella’s family home at Hartforth near Richmond in North Yorkshire, the similarity is still apparent today. Work was completed by 1829.
The older house on the site was separately occupied by members of the Hutton family who subsequently sold it in 1840 to John Henderson of the Henderson Carpet Manufacturing Company in Durham. He only remained there for a short time, selling the house in 1842 to Thomas Crawford who in turn sold it to the Prince family, creating a single estate in 1852.
Prince was born in Jamaica in 1784 and subsequently baptised in St Peter’s, Liverpool, son of Thomas and Ellen. The family had a banana plantation in Jamaica. By the time of Trafalgar in 1805, Prince was a Captain in the Royal Navy. He married Isabella Cradock in 1821 and settled at Shincliffe. In 1851, Captain Prince received a service medal from the Admiralty and in 1855 the rank of Retired Commander.
Isabella died in 1852 at the age of 71. Captain Prince stayed on alone at the Hall as he and Isabella had no children. He was looked after by his faithful servants, chiefly Peter Taylor-Mowbray, his estate manager and Mary Taylor, his housekeeper. When Peter Taylor-Mowbray died, he was buried in the plot in St Mary’s Shincliffe alongside the Prince plot at the west end of the church where Isabella was already interred and Captain Prince was in his turn laid to rest when he died in 1867 at the age of 81. In his will, he made provision for Mary Taylor but the executor of his will, Isabella’s relative, Christopher Cradock, had moved her out within the year. Also mentioned in the probate inventory of Captain Prince’s will is a painting by Rubens which was hanging in the hall of the house. Efforts have been made to find this painting, and the conclusion of the most recent researcher is that the painting went to Ireland and the possession of the Booth-Gore family, who have a connection with Isabella’s family, the Cradocks.
The Hall was bought in 1869 for about £9,500 by the Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral after Captain Prince’s death because they already held the mineral rights to the land and the coal seam is very near to the surface on the site.
The Dean and Chapter housed their clerk at the Hall. He was a solicitor called Richardson Peele, whose wife Mary Louisa died at the hall on 21st August 1875, aged 27, probably as a result of child birth. Richardson Peele was also a secretary to three Bishops of Durham and a councillor eventually becoming Mayor of Durham in 1889. He died in August 1892.The firm of Peeles’ solicitors is still in operation today.
The next occupant, listed in Kelly’s 1879 Directory of Durham, was William Grayson. At the time of the 1881 census, the house was occupied by William Atkinson, government Inspector of Mines, and his family. The next official record is the 1891 Census where widow Elizabeth Forster and her large family and servants are in residence. Her husband, Richard, had recently died as he was listed in the Kelly’s Directory of 1890. Ten years later, the 1901 Census lists a Grain Merchant called William John Featherstone Ayton and his family. He also appears in Kelly’s 1902 Directory. The 1910 – 1929 Kelly listings show a Mrs Wilkinson living at the Hall.
During World War 2, the Hall housed Land Army girls. After this it was acquired by the University for student accommodation, first by Hatfield College, then the Graduate Society (now Ustinov College) until October 2004. Ustinov College is consolidating its accommodation for students over the next few years at the Howlands site off South Road, Durham.
During repair work at the Hall in 1990s, some bricks were removed from an outbuilding wall. These were marked “Love”. Joseph Love was a former pitman who married into wealth and became a coal owner. The bricks which he manufactured are those used for this old brickwork.
Based on information from Alan Turnbull, Estates Officer, Ustinov College 0191 3346409