THE GATEHOUSE SALE, 1949
There are at least two copies of the 1949 sale catalogue for the Gatehouse estate in public collections in Cumbria. Kendal Record Office has a copy (ref. WD/BLT/352) in the collection of the late Bruce Logan Thompson, local agent for the National Trust. Unfortunately, this copy was imperfectly printed, and two pages (details of Lot 14 and the first page of Conditions of Sale) are blank. Whitehaven Record Office has a photocopy (in folder ref. YDSO 41/7/1) in the collection of the Eskdale Outward Bound Mountain School, which acquired Gatehouse and its grounds in 1949.
The catalogue is very detailed, over 50 pages long for the 14 lots, with photographs pasted in, showing the exterior, grounds, interiors & lodge at Gatehouse, plus Fisherground house and other scenes round the estate. These notes give a flavour.
Auction of the Gatehouse estate, by Jackson-Stops & Staff of Chester, to be held at Gatehouse, 21 Jun 1949, 11.30am.
To be offered as a whole, or if not sold, in 14 lots:
Inspection of the house by appointment through the Auctioneers or direct with Mr Hopkins, the butler at the house (Tel. Eskdale 26). The other farms & cottages may be inspected on production of the catalogue.
- Gatehouse, with grounds & gardener's cottage (55.924 acres; in hand) + "The Lodge" (tenant A. Thompson)
Hollinghow Farm (108.679a; tenant E. Johnson) + field OS No 21 (tenant T. Gainford)
Banklands (0.761a, life tenants Mr & Mrs Hopkins)
Randlehow Cottages (0.377a, tenants Mr Massicks, Mrs Barbour, Mr A. Tyson)
1 Rigg Cottages (0.4a, tenants Cumberland & Westmorland Constabulary)
2 Rigg Cottages (See below)
3 Rigg Cottages (0.338a, tenant Mr Hoggarth)
Keyhow Cottages (0.413a, not including main house at E end of row, tenants Miss Thompson, Mrs Nicholson, Mrs Hodgson, Mrs A. Nicholson, Mrs Crowe)
Moss Grove (0.368a, tenant Mr Goth)
Bankside (0.1a opposite St Bega's, tenant Mr J. Long- on map as a pair of cottages)
Fisherground Farm (200.888a, tenant J.S. Steel, except 53a woodland in hand)
plus the two Milkingstead Cottages (tenants Singleton & Smith)
Hollinghead Farm (144.144a, tenant J.J. Postlethwaite)
Spout House (0.173a, life tenants the Misses Sharpe)
The Empire Workshop (0.024a, tenant L. Roberts) [Grid Ref. NY154000]
Gatehouse was built in 1896 for the late J.H. Rea Esq., and the grounds were landscaped by the late Prof. T.H. Mawson of Windermere.
Gatehouse has mains electricity, as does Banklands, and the cottages around Eskdale Green. The power line also runs near to the farmhouses.
"...the right is reserved to the Vendor to use the Electric power cable which leads from Gatehouse to Long Rigg. This cable was used to connect the Electric supply generated at Long Rigg to Gatehouse..."
The water supply for Gatehouse, its lodges, and three other properties, comes from a reservoir on the high ground above Gatehouse. Other properties are supplied from other reservoirs or springs.
"The Pool and main supply tanks situated on the north side of Lot 1 [Grid Ref. NY144006]and being Part O.S. No 155 on plan and the adjoining plot Part OS No 164 on which are the two filter tanks, wil be conveyed with Lot 1, subject to the following reservations:-
1. The Vendor reserves the right to receive a full and adequate supply to his house and farm, Lowholm.
2. The occupiers of the folowing properties in Eskdale Green:-
"Bankside", Eskdale Green.
"Yattus", Eskdale Green.
"Gateside House", Eskdale Green.
are to be supplied with water free of charge, as at present from the Gatehouse supply, the cost of maintenance, cleaning and repair of the reservoir and supply pipes to be borne rateably by the properties using the same.
3. The Vendor reserves the exclusive bathing rights in the Pool, which is now used to supply the Gatehouse gardens with water. (This Pool is not used for the drinking water supply).
The purchaser of Lot 1 and his servants will have a right of way along the track locally known as Rackrigg..." [i.e. up to the reservoir past the old gravel pit]
Within Lot 1, the grounds of Gatehouse include:
terrace, with herbaceous border below, & sloping lawns down to the tarn, which is "stocked with Brown Trout which average from half to one and three quarter pounds... On the South East side of the Tarn is a glorious Heather Garden and above this garden is
A MOST BEAUTIFUL ROCK GARDEN
with a mountain stream running through the centre in a series of water falls and finally passing into the Tarn. On the North side of the house are shaded lawns including a Putting Lawn, a Pleached Alley in Beech and thence a climb by woodland and grass walks through the Shrub Garden, which is a mass of flowering Azaleas backed by Rhododendrons leads to
THE JAPANESE GARDEN
with its wooded summer house, ornamental pools divided by rockeries, wooden bridges, stone lanterns, gods, dragons etc. and other ornaments and its collection of rare trees and shrubs including: magnolia watsonii, Cupressus, Maple, Japanese Azaleas and other flowering shrubs in luxuriant profusion.
Also on the North side of the house are the
KITCHEN GARDENS: one with a south wall planted with nine plum trees..."
There is also a small orchard, walled garden (soft fruit) & range of glass-houses (stove house, tomato house, rose house, vinery, plant house, carnation house, peach house) + potting shed, 10 frames (6 heated), wood shed etc.
Description of Lot 6 (2 Rigg Cottages):
Made of local stone with window mullions of St Bees red sandstone & roof of green Westmorland slates. Ground floor: sitting room, living room, kitchen, pantry. First floor: 3 large bedrooms. Outside: wash-house & bucket closet, front garden, good-sized vegetable garden. Mains electricity, water from reservoir on land retained by vendor. Total area 0.319a. Let to Miss Fair on weekly tenancy. Yearly rent £14
Description of Lot 14 (workshop): "well built of stone with a slated roof and is in good repair... used as a JOINER'S SHOP with ground and first floors and wooden staircase. No Services are connected." Rent £15 yearly.
General conditions include:
6(1) Title to the property (except lots 12-14, which had been acquired more recently) is to commence with the will of James Hall Rea, dated 19 Dec 1914 and proved 6 Feb 1918 (he died 30 Aug 1918), devising the property, after the death of his wife Jane Rea, to trustees for his nephew Walter Russell Rea (1st Baron Rea), with remainder on trust to Walter's "first and every other Son". Walter died 26 May 1948, and it is his eldest son, the second Lord Rea, who is now selling the property.
Pencil notes indicate the following sales:
Lot 1) Outward Bound Trust £15,000
Lot 11) Bulman £3,400
Lot 12) Bulman £2,500
The Whitehaven Record Office folder (ref. YDSO 41/7/1) also contains other documents from the same period, including:
A photocopy of the cover for "AN IMPORTANT SALE OF ANTIQUE AND MODERN FURNITURE
Electric Player-Piano (Steinway) Eastern and English Carpets and Rugs Oriental Brass, Bronzes, Pewter, China Silver and Plate Oil Paintings and Water Colours Small Library of Books Curtains Linen Bedroom Appointments Rudge Auto-Cycle Outside Effects"
To be held at Gatehouse, 21 Jun 1949 from 1.30pm and 22 Jun from 11am. View by catalogue (price 6d), 20 Jun from 11am to 4pm. Auctioneers as estate.
A labelled plan of the house ground floor, revised to 1938, with rough annotations suggesting possible uses for various rooms by the Outward Bound School.
A report from a visit to Gatehouse by John Gwynne for the Outward Bound trust, 12 Jul 1949, including notes on staffing, the condition of the grounds etc:
note 3) "The Japanese garden must, reluctantly, be abandoned. I have told Hayes to prepare a rough catalogue of the shrubs that might be sold..."
note 9) "Miniature Railway. The Manager says he will give us special facilities and run special trains for us out of season. He would welcome interest and assistance from the boys. This might be a minor 'project' for the School."
Lord Rea's comments on the above report, including:
"3. Alas, yes. The thing (Jap Garden) needed to be higly cultivated and already had deteriorated from its best."
"9. Yes, Mr H. Hilton, the Manager, is very helpful. This whole Railway is changing hands. I am very much tempted to own a railway and have asked for details. Would Outward Bound care to look at it as a possible 'spec'? I believe it coins money in the summer, but otherwise is on an 'ad hoc' gravel carrying basis which may or may not pay. For the boys to be engine drivers and engineers and do a bit of track repairing might be interesting. The people about to buy it are the Keswick Granite Company."