The History of Brougham Hall

When Brougham became settled and fortified is unclear and information about it in medieval times is scarce but it is easy to see what drew medieval knights to the site with a natural defensive position on the brow of the hill and water from two nearby springs. Surviving walls, gates and other parts of Brougham Hall date back to about the 15th century. Brougham Hall, a grade II* listed building, was initially owned by the de Burgham family, a possible forerunner to the Brougham name, of which more than ten different spellings have been found. 

By the sixteenth century, a large and complex range of buildings existed on the site, including a manor house, a byre and a gate, to which a seventeenth century pele tower was added. The Broughams, of Brougham Hall, became extinct in 1608 and it passed out of their family. Following many changes of ownership, the estate eventually passed, for the sum of £1,500 in 1651, into the hands of the owner of Brougham Castle, Lady Anne Clifford, Countess of Dorset, Pembroke and Montgomery. Lady Anne Clifford was responsible for the conservation and restoration of 14 castles between Skipton, where she was born, and Brougham. Extensive renovations were carried out to the Hall by Lady Anne. It passed to her agent James Bird, upon her death, in 1676. Ambitious James Bird was responsible for extensive building work and oversaw the greatest expansion of work at the Hall. 

Brougham Hall was re-acquired for the Brougham family when John Brougham of Scales (who was made a Commissioner for England in 1715) bought the estate back in 1726 for the sum of £5,000, when the Hall became the family seat of the Brougham family. The Hall was largely rebuilt from 1829 to 1847 and again in the 1860s at which time it was the home of the Lord Chancellor Brougham. Brougham Hall reached its zenith in Victorian times when it acquired the name of ' the Windsor of the North' owing to royal visits by King Edward VII and his son, the future King George VI, who became regular guests between 1857 and 1905.

Brougham Hall again passed out of the ownership of the Brougham family in 1934 and rapidly fell into decay. It was then abandoned, roofless, and commandeered by Winston Churchill for the development of one of the Allies five most top secret weapons of WWII. This only served to further its decay. An extensive programme of restoration, which was to become one of England's most ambitious country house restoration projects commenced when it was bought by Christopher Terry, in 1985, who saved it from destruction.

A scale model of the Hall can be viewed by prior appointment, and a charming Cromwellian Chapel of St. Wilfrid's, designed and rebuilt by Lady Anne Clifford, stands alongside the Hall. The chapel replaces an earlier edifice on the site and contains some superb medieval woodwork placed there by Lord Brougham in the 1840's.

The new century, however, sees a new lease of life for this remarkable building. 

Read about the restoration project of Brougham Hall

Read the full 'History of Brougham Hall and High Head Castle' by Mark Thomas.