rise hall
Monday, 30 November -0001


Rise Hall, mentioned in the Domesday Book and once owned by Richard III, has now been (almost) restored to its former glory.

Written by Carolyn Hart

Rise Hall, the building project that became the subject of TV presenter Sarah Beeny's recent programme Restoration Nightmare, has become something of a cause célèbre in DIY circles. Not least because Rise is enormous (97 rooms at the last count – that's only 30 shy of Chatsworth), but also because it became a bone of contention between Beeny and the local council who refused permission (since restored) for Beeny and her husband to use Rise as a wedding venue. The programme was an object lesson in the pitfalls of taking on a Grade IIlisted house.

risehall-8A brief history of this massive house reveals that Rise Hall (near Rise village just north of Hull) is recorded in the Domesday Book as having about 700 acres with 30 acres of meadow and 40 acres of woodland. But it also has links with royalty; by 1372, the estate had been sold to Sir John Neville and was then owned by Richard Plantagenet, Duke of Gloucester, who later became Richard III of England. Rise remained a crown estate until 1639 when it was sold to William Raven and thence to Hugh Bethell in 1646.

Rise Hall's now rather austere frontage is due to its being almost entirely rebuilt between 1815-20. By 1856 the estate constituted a deer park, 130 acres of woodland and 20 acres of fishponds, as well as Rise village, which was still owned by the Bethell family in 1995. In 1884 a cricket pitch was added.

As became the fate of so many large houses – Rise fell into disrepair after it was used as an officers' mess during the Second World War and then subsequently rented by an order of nuns – the Canonesses Regular of St Augustine who opened a convent school.

risehall-31Rescue from an almost certain slide into dereliction came with the arrival of Sarah Beeny and her husband Graham Swift, who bought the house 10 years ago for the modest sum of £435,000. That of course didn't take into account the huge amount of money needed just to keep the roof intact and the damp at bay. Now that the marriage licence has been restored, Rise can be put to use again.

'We've now got a reason to maintain the house,' says Beeny. 'There had to be a reason otherwise it was just too expensive to run. But I think this has been the most frustrating year I've ever had. I just couldn't do what I wanted – it all depended on meetings, which operated with appalling slowness.'





The Rise Hall website shows exactly what the couple has achieved in the teeth of such adversity. A Regency house rescued from almost certain dereliction, not to mention miles of plastering, acres of restored roof and a series of rooms decorated in grand, if slightly shabby chic, country-house style. u

For more information, visit www.risehall.com

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