Tuesday, 13 October 2015
The village of Wensley, which gives its name to the dale, must have been more important in the past. Nowadays it is a quiet and unremarkable place. Until the 16th century it had a market, always a sign of significance since market charters were granted by the King. In 1653, however, it seems the village was devastated by the plague and the surviving villagers fled, so that it took nearly a century to recover. There is a private driveway out from the village across a beautifully landscaped estate, which I believe leads to Bolton Hall, a mansion built in 1678 and then rebuilt in 1902 after a fire. It is still lived in by Lord Bolton's family. They also own nearby Bolton Castle, which is open to the public. Some of the houses in the village are clearly 'estate houses' built for the estate's staff.
My paternal grandfather worked for the Duke of Portland on his Welbeck estate in Nottinghamshire so I grew up around 'estate houses' and can recognise their distinctiveness, even though they tend to have regional styles.
[Interestingly - and completely off topic! - the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was a guest of the Duke of Portland at Welbeck in 1913, almost a year prior to his assassination that precipitated WWI. He was almost killed at Welbeck in a hunting accident when a loader's gun accidentally fired - an accident that could have changed the course of history but, sadly, did not.]