Possibly Horbury's finest house, the Grade II listed Carr Lodge Mansion has lain unused for many years now, slowly decaying as Wakefield Metropolitan District Council (WMDC), the current owners decide on the best use for the historic old building.

Carr Lodge House

Above: Carr Lodge House. Picture courtesy of Anthony Oldroyd.

This Grade II listed building was built between 1770 and 1775 for John Bayldon and was called originally Sunroyd House or possibly Little Thornes House, because the design is similar to Thornes House in Wakefield. In 1790, the house was conveyed to John Carr, lawyer, the nephew of John Carr the architect, who was born in Horbury in 1723. Carr bought Sunroyd House in 1789 and renamed it "Carr Lodge". The mansion was originally a private house within landscaped gardens including a historic walled garden.

John Carr leased the house to tenants. In 1794, Carr Lodge was leased to Cuthbert Shafto for 11 years, but in May 1795, Mr. Shafto surrendered his lease.1

An advertisement in the local press in 1802 for Carr Lodge reads:

"Carr Lodge, near Wakefield. To be let. For a term of five or seven Years. The newly erected mansion house of Carr Lodge, about 2 miles from Wakefield, consisting of a dining room, 22' x 19', a second dining room, 22' x 16', a good breakfast room, large kitchen, servants' hall, pantry, all on the first floor, a suitable number of excellent bedrooms, detached domestic offices, stabling for ten horses, coach house, saddle house, barn, dovecote, farm yard with granary, sheds, etc. Two good gardens with choice fruit trees in full bearing and any quantity of inclosed land, not exceeding 30 acres, adjoining to and surrounding the premises with common pasture in the cow pasture of Horbury.

Carr Lodge is situated on an eminence, beautifully rising from a turnpike road at a distance. The grounds are nearly surrounded by a plantation of young trees, interspersed by larches, firs, flowering shrubs, etc. and the whole is accommodated to the use of a large, genteel family. A regular post twice a day to and from Wakefield. The lands may be entered to at Candlemas, and the house at May Day next. Enquire to Thomas and Robert Swann Esquires, York and of Mr. Carr, Wakefield, the owner."

John Carr died in 1824 and the property passed to his son, John Francis Carr, who married Mary Robinson of Hemingbrough. John Francis Carr played a big part in the civic life of the district. He was a magistrate, a member of the Horbury Common Lands Trust and Lord of the Rectory Manor of Dewsbury.

John Francis Carr made the mansion his family home with his three daughters Harriet, Mary Ann and Maria Hannah. Tragically Harriet died from scarlet fever in May 1841 as a child. Maria Hannah Carr married Canon Burn of Riverhead, Kent. Eloping against her father’s wishes, Mary Ann married Colonel Thomas Goulbourne Parker, of Browsholme Hall in Clitheroe. The marriage failed and Mary Ann left her husband and children, spending the last days of her life in Carr Lodge. When she died at the age of 63 in 1888, the mansion fell into the hands of the Parker family, who, it is believed, fell on hard times.

John Francis Carr died on Christmas Day 1862 aged 76 and on his commemoration stone was the following inscription "In Memory of John Francis Carr of Carr Lodge and Hemingbrough Villa, a magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant for the County of York who departed this life on December 25th 1862, aged 76 years." After the death of her husband, the widow of John Francis Carr continued to live at Carr Lodge. Mrs. Carr commemorated her husband by giving a stained glass east window to South Ossett Church.2

After the death of Mrs. Parker, Carr Lodge was rented out to various tenants, including Captain Godfrey Armytage D.L., J.P., who had been a reforming Governor of Wakefield Prison. Other tenants of Carr Lodge included Archdeacon Donne, who had been Vicar of Wakefield. In 1921, Leonard Cooper, the father of novelist Lettice Cooper held the tenancy. At various times, Carr Lodge was untenanted for several years.

Horbury Urban District Council (HUDC) bought the property and its lands from Mary Ann Carr's second son, Colonel John William Robinson Parker C.B. for £5,500 in 1936 and the 28-acre grounds were turned into a public park. Some of the old farm buildings were demolished and a Development Committee was formed to raise money to provide amenities for the new park. These included park benches, which then only cost £1.90 each and a children's paddling pool. Donors of park shelters included Mr. Alfred R. Briggs, of Grange Villa, Horbury; Mr. Edwin Poppleton, of Jenkin House, Horbury and the Horbury Industrial Co-Operative Society. Mr. H. Andrassy promised a hand gate and stone pillars to be erected at the Stannard Well Lane corner. During the Second World War, thousands of soldiers descended on Horbury and made Carr Lodge their home whilst awaiting to embark on a tour of service.

At the end of hostilities, the park enjoyed its heyday through the 1950s and 60s, with families enjoying days by the paddling pool or walking around the walled gardens. The mansion house then became the benefits office of Horbury Urban District Council.

In September 1964, workmen found some brick chambers and tunnels under the park, which were believed to be part of the original water supply for the house. Water would have been pumped from these brick-lined chambers up to the top of the house. An old well was discovered in 1970, close to the paddling pool and water from this well was used to refill the paddling pool after it had been drained because of vandalism.

In 1974, changes to local government organisation meant HUDC was swallowed up by Wakefield Council and tenants rented office space in the house, including the Ordnance Survey. By 1997 the building was shut and Horbury Heritage Trust took over responsibility for the building hoping to open it for use by the community.3

In 2011, it was reported that plans had been submitted to sell off Carr Lodge Mansion and part of the grounds for use as a private residence again.4 A council report said this:

"The site comprises Carr Lodge Mansion which is located in Carr Lodge Park, Horbury. Carr Lodge is a Grade II Listed Building dating back to circa 1770-1775. It was originally a residential property set within landscaped gardens and its most recent use was for offices and veterinary clinic. The site is located in a public park in a predominantly residential area close to the centre of Horbury. The site boundaries are presently open to the park. The proposal involves changing the use of the existing mansion from offices and veterinary clinic to a dwelling house, which was the original use of the building when constructed circa 1770-1775. In view of the above, it is considered that the proposals will protect and enhance the Grade II Listed Building and its setting and secure the future use of the currently vacant building. The proposals accord with relevant policy and guidance and approval is therefore recommended."

WMDC recommended that the application by Abdul Hussein, c/o Vardan Mkrtchyan for full permission to turn the property into an eight bedroom house should be given the go-ahead, subject to conditions being agreed, to safeguard the future of the building. The proposal also involved putting up external lights and CCTV, the details of which, the report says, have been worked out with conservation officers. Originally a swimming pool was incorporated into the home, but the plans have been amended and a pool will not now be included.

Mr. Hussein also requested over 1000 square metres of public parkland for garden be included in the sale, which caused a public outcry, even more so as WMDC have refused to reveal details of the bid and how much money was involved.

Carr Lodge Mansion 2011

Above: Rear view of Carr Lodge Mansion as it was in 2011.

In 2010, local campaigners in Horbury took just six days to drum up a 1,528 signature petition and 527 letters of objection over the sale of Carr Lodge Mansion. Protesters said the council had allowed the building to fall into disrepair and had failed to properly inform residents of the sale. Many local people wanted to see the mansion used as a community facility.

The walled garden in Carr Lodge Park is a 50m x 50m, Grade II listed site. It was originally cultivated to provide food for the occupants of the mansion before being converted into a quiet area as part of Carr Lodge Park. The garden has effectively been abandoned over the past 20 years or so. During that time its walls had become overcome with ivy and brambles. Weeds had grown up to 6 feet high. Self seeded trees were left to grow wild and the garden has been used from time to time for illicit drinking and glue sniffing.

In 2009, the Rotary Club of Horbury and Ossett Phoenix created new herbaceous borders and planted up the old rose beds with bedding plants. They were also granted permission to start the first phase of bringing the Carr Lodge Walled Garden back into community use by clearing up the abandoned walled garden. Gaining permission to start was delayed somewhat because of the need for Wakefield Council to consider the implications of the sale of the Mansion House and whether or not the walled garden was to be included. Once the decision was made to exclude the garden from the sale and following representations through Councillor Ripley, the Council Cabinet member responsible for Parks and recreation, Cllr. Hudson, gave authority for the work to start. Further consultation with Council officers, Friends of Horbury Park and the Horbury Heritage Group concluded with the Rotary Club undertaking delivery of Phase 1, which will also include putting a gate on the walled garden entrance to facilitate safe working for subsequent stages.5


1. Possibly Sir Cuthbert Shafto, who alleged circa 1795 that he was attacked by his wife Mary Shafto who struck him on the face, kicked him on the private parts, and tried to strangle him with his neckcloth. He even gave this as the main reason for going to Scotland, when he tried to avoid Mary's citation to appear and answer her suit for separation. Shafio c. Shafto, 1797.
2. "Some Horbury Yesterdays" by R.D. Woodhall, first published in 1973.
3. "Wakefield Express", Wednesday, 16th November 2005.
4. "Wakefield Express", Thursday, 13th October 2011.
5. The Rotary Club of Horbury and Ossett Phoenix the Carr Lodge Park Walled Garden project.

Stephen Wilson, May 2016