Allerton Castle, just off the A1 in North Yorkshire, is an ideal place for a wedding, though it’ll cost a bob or two.
A dramatic Victorian Gothic pile designed by the little-known London architect, George Martin, for the 19th Lord Stourton, it has a spectacular 70-foot-high great hall, splendid state rooms and a parkland setting.
The contents were sold in 1965 when Lord Stourton’s direct descendant, the 25th Lord Mowbray, died, and two successive religious organisations, neither of which proved capable of keeping it up, leased it.
When Lord Mowbray’s heir, his grandson Edward, inherited in 1985 he resolved to sell it and it was spotted, fortuitously, by the vice-president of the Tandy Corporation, Dr Gerald Rolph, who was driving north to go shopping for a Scottish castle.
Dr Rolph inspected Allerton Castle in the morning and bought it the same afternoon.
He then spent twenty years carefully restoring the building, replacing the roof, rewiring, and filling the place with furniture, some of it original to the house.
In January 2005 a chimney fire spread into the roof void, gutting most of the principal rooms. The 5,000-gallon water tank cracked and the resulting flood saved the Conservatory and part of the Library.
Dr Rolph, reasoning that if the place could be restored once it could be restored twice, promptly set about a renewal programme which was completed in 2012.
Much of the carving in both wood and marble and the plasterwork was completed in China, using fibreglass moulds of originals as templates. Other work was sourced locally: armorial stained glass was restored or replicated by Paul Lucker of Elland and the wood-carving in the conservatory was carried out by Julie Meredith of York.
Dr Rolph designed and commissioned other reproductions including the Bucharest-made Persian-style hand-tied carpet for the Great Hall and the carpets in the Morning Room and the Dining Room. For the Library the Pugin wallpaper was printed from the original blocks by Cole of London and the carpet was designed by Dr Rolph and manufactured by Mercia Weavers.
You can visit Allerton Castle on Wednesday afternoons and Bank Holiday Monday afternoons from Easter Monday through to the end of October 2016, though you see rather more of the place (and enjoy a sumptuous afternoon tea) on special tours that run on specific dates through the year: http://www.allertoncastle.co.uk/visiting.html.
Or you can hire the whole place if you have enough cash.