Patterdale Hall Estate has been around for many hundreds of years. Records show that as far back as 1624 the Lordship of Patterdale was purchased from the Threlkeld family by Joan Mounsey of Greystoke, for her son John. The Threlkelds were said to have held the lordship for centuries, and it is known that during the civil war, John Mounsey led a group of Dalesmen to Stybarrow Crag (just North of Glenridding) to repulse the Scots who were on their way to fight for Charles I at Preston. It appears that, after this exploit of 1648, Mounsey became known as the “King of Patterdale”.
John Mounsey and his wife Dorothy rebuilt their old house in 1677 during a period of greater prosperity in which many houses in the Lake District were rebuilt. A sketch plan by an antiquarian called Machell, drawn about 1680, shows the house with a cross-passage, a communal hall, kitchen, buttery and parlour (bedroom for the master & mistress). There were also stables, a walled courtyard, terrace and orchard. The house was probably furnished with finely carved wooden furniture, a feature of Lake District homes at that time. Certainly a “throne” for the “King” was made, bearing his initials, coat-of-arms and the date 1677. This chair is now in Tullie House Museum, Carlisle.
A later John Mounsey, probably the great grandson of John, was said to be an absolute miser who allowed the property to fall into decay, although an engraving of 1788 shows what appears to be a fine Lake District house. When he died in 1793, his son John refurbished the house and added the South West wing in 1796. This man died in 1821 and his considerable estate was divided among his many children. His son and heir was left only the Hall and the stock on Grisedale Farm, and had to provide two of his sisters £1000 each. He sold the Hall to John Marshall, a wealthy linen manufacturer of Headingley, Leeds.
The new owner was married to Jane Pollard, a friend of Dorothy Wordsworth. When their eldest son, William Marshall, lived at Patterdale Hall, Dorothy’s even more renowned brother, William Wordsworth, stayed with him on a number of occasions. In 1848 William Marshall employed a well-known architect, Anthony Salvin, to design a much grander house. This appears to have entailed demolishing most of the older house except for a few walls, although the 1796 addition was spared along with the original drip-stone moulding which bears John and Dorothy Mounsey’s initials and the date 1677. The Marshalls terraced and landscaped the grounds, laying out formal gardens and planting many exotic and newly discovered trees, some of which still stand to this day.
Walks were also laid out in the woodlands, including a “wilderness walk”, and the walk up Waterfall Wood is a great feature of the estate and open to estate guests only. William Marshall was succeeded at the Hall by his three sons in turn. The last, Walter James, was High Sheriff of Westmorland in 1890.
The last of the Marshalls to occupy the Hall as a family home was William Hibbert, who died in 1929. After his death the Estate was put on the market, the contents auctioned in 1934, and the Hall and Estate sold in 1937 to F.C.Scott. He did not occupy the house and during the Second World War it was at one stage occupied by evacuees, and at another requisitioned by the Army when various alterations were made.
The war over, the Hall and Estate were purchased in 1950 by Rowland Lishman, a Tyneside businessman and philanthropist reknwoned for turning the tythe system on its head by giving away 90% of his income and only keeping 10% for himself! He was also a long-serving member of the National Council of Y.M.C.A.s and placed the whole Estate in trust to the then Tynemouth Y.M.C.A. His aim was to provide holiday accommodation at a reasonable price, with the emphasis on young people from urban areas, to enable them to experience the unique qualities of the Lake District.
In 1988 the management of the trust transferred to Y.M.C.A. North Tyneside, with whom it rests today. In 2014 the Hall building itself was sold by the YMCA to a long-standing tenant and the funds generated were used to develop North Tyneside YMCA’s youth centre in North Shields, Tyne & Wear.
Patterdale Hall Estate is now a private Estate of over 200 acres, consisting of eleven self-catering holiday homes, a caravan site, tenanted farmland with a flock of 1000 sheep, 50 acres of ancient woodland and a private foreshore onto Ullswater – England’s most beautiful lake. It continues to provide, as it has for the past fifty years, an amenity in the heart of the Lake District for people of all ages to enjoy. All money raised by the estate goes to the YMCA and helps achieve the goal of creating a community where everyone is healthy, happy and connected.