We look at Sutton Scarsdale Hall from our bedroom window almost every day. I say almost because it is on the other side of our valley and if it isn’t visible…. then the weather is bad !
The existing structure is believed to be the fourth or fifth built on the site. In 1724, Nicholas Leke, 4th Earl of Scarsdale commissioned the building of a design by architect Francis Smith, to develop a Georgian mansion with gardens, using parts of the existing structure.
On a scale and quality with Chatsworth House, internally it featured both oak ornamental panels and stucco plasterwork by Italian craftsmen Francesco Vassalli and the Atari brothers; carved Adam fireplaces in both marble and Blue John, and a signature carved mahogany staircase.
Following the death of the 4th Earl, Member of Parliament Godfrey Bagnall Clarke purchased the estate in 1740. After his death in 1774 the Marquis of Ormonde then gained ownership by marriage, and after his death in 1824, Richard Arkwright Junior of Cromford Mill fame, became the owner.. William Arkwright of Sutton Scarsdale was High Sheriff of Derbyshire in 1890.
After many years of neglect, in November 1919 the estate was bought by a group of local businessmen who literally asset stripped the house – this went as far as removing the roof in 1920. Some parts of the building were shipped to the USA, where one room’s oak panelling was bought by newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst, who planned to use it at Hearst Castle. After many years in storage in New York, Pall Mall films bought the panelling for use as a set in their various 1950s productions. Another set of panels are now resident in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
In 1946, the estate was bought by Sir Osbert Sitwell of Renishaw Hall, with the intention of preserving the remaining shell as a ruin. Scarsdale Hall is now in the care of English Heritage, and is freely accessible to visitors.