Sitwell Sitwell

Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire:  east wing

Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire: east wing

The Sitwell family have lived at and owned Renishaw since the 1301. Of the owners who built and embellished Renishaw Hall, the one who aggrandised the house most was Sir Sitwell Sitwell.

The male line of the Sitwells ended with the death of the second of two bachelors in 1777 and the property, said to be worth half a million pounds, passed to a nephew in the female line, the lively, musical Francis Hurt of Mount Pleasant, Sheffield, who took the surname Sitwell.

It happened that Francis had already named his heir Sitwell Hurt, so that he duly became Sitwell Sitwell. (There was a younger son named Hurt Sitwell.)

Sitwell Sitwell, who inherited an income reputed to amount to £40,000 a year, immediately began extending the house with the help of the Sheffield architect, Joseph Badger, adding the pillars which widened the Jacobean hall, and in 1793 building the apsed dining-room extension with its chimneypiece by John Platt of Rotherham. Badger also constructed the Dairy, the Gothick Temple and other estate buildings.

In 1803 the east wing was begun, including the drawing room, which contains the earliest plasterwork attributed to Sir Francis Chantrey and a chimneypiece by Sir William Chambers, originally in the Albany, Piccadilly, which Sitwell Sitwell purchased from the Duke of York.

He erected the stables to the north-west of the house (also by Joseph Badger) to accommodate his racing stud, his hunters and the hounds which in November 1793 had famously chased and captured a “Royal Bengal Tiger” escaped from a nearby menagerie.

The Prince Regent visited Renishaw with his daughter, Princess Charlotte, in 1808 and made Sitwell Sitwell a baronet. The ballroom, which contains another of the Albany fireplaces, was completed for this occasion:  its ceiling is embellished with the Prince of Wales’ feathers.

Sir Sitwell Sitwell died, of gout or of its treatment, aged 41, in 1811.

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