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History of Grantley Hall

Original Owner:
Thomas Norton – Born in 1683 in Grantely, England and Died in 1719 in West Tanfield, England

Additional Owners:
Fletcher Norton – Born in 1716 in England, Married Grace Chappel Norton, and Died in 1789 in England
Grace Chappel Norton – Married Fletcher Norton
William Norton – Born in 1742 and Died in 1822
Christopher Furness – Born in 1852 and Died in 1912
William Aykroyd – Died in 1947

The Story of Grantley Hall

A hidden gem nestled in the Yorkshire Dales, Grantley Hall has a rich heritage coloured with a myriad of inhabitants and visitors, from members of parliament to royalty. Originally built as a private home, Grantley Hall was home to a number of aristocratic families, as well as a convalescence home for thousands of American, Jamaican and Canadian airmen and soldiers during World War II. Now owned by Valeria Sykes, the historic Grantley Hall has been given a magnificent lease of life as a luxurious countryside retreat.   

First built by Thomas Norton at  the end of the 17th Century, Grantley Hall embodies a Palladian style of architecture, based on designs of the 16th-century Venetian architect Andrea Palladio. Norton’s grandson, Fletcher Norton, who inherited the grand estate at the tender age of three years old, was knighted in 1762 before being elected Speaker of the House of Commons in 1770 and subsequently elevated to the peerage in 1782 as 1st Lord Grantley. Despite the prominent position of the Norton family, Fletcher Norton’s brother, George Norton, was involved in a public scandal that resulted in a shift in feminist legislation that improved the custody and financial rights of women in failed marriages by transfering divorce from the church to the courts. 

This systemic change was instigated by Caroline Norton who, upon separating from the abusive and vindictive George Norton, was denied any financial support or access to their three young sons. On top of this misjustice, Caroline’s husband also sued her romantic interest, Lord Melbourne who was prime minister at the time; his embroilment in this scandalous trial of 1836 almost brought down the government. Although Caroline Norton’s fight to revolutionise marriage laws was unknown to the current owner of Grantley Hall, Sykes decided to honour her legacy by naming the spa at Grantley Hall ‘Three Graces’, which is what Caroline and her beautiful sisters were known as when they were young and carefree.

In 1900, the Grantley Estate exchanged hands from the Nortons to Sir Christopher Furness, the businessman and politician who made extensive changes to the estate, implementing the main features of its appearance today. His wife designed the Japanese Garden in 1910, which was one of the earliest of its kind in the country, and now a National Trust site. Only 25 year later, the estate changed hands once more. Its new owner, Sir William Aykroyd, fully immersed himself into the local community, building Grantley Village Hall, hosting regular cinema nights for the local inhabitants, and even entertaining the Queen Mary and the Princess Royal in 1937. Sadly, with the death of Sir William in 1947, the continuous era of private family ownership of Grantley Hall came to an end. 

The latest chapter of Grantley Hall’s story began in 2015, when local Yorkshire woman Valeria Sykes bought the estate with a vision of putting Yorkshire on the luxury map by creating a legacy for this magnificent building and providing employment and career opportunities within the local area. With a passion in history, the arts, interior design and renovation, Sykes oversaw four years of significant renovation works that have succeeded in reimagining Grantley Hall as an elegant wellness retreat that provides its guests with an outstanding and tranquil escape with a difference.