Family's lengthy contributions to a country hall with an illustrious history

TATEFIELD Hall may have a unique and illustrious history, especially through some of its noted former owners such as Fountains Abbey and the Fawkes family to name but two.

Add this to the sketchy history dating back to Roman times and, who knows, before that time of Celtic peoples who have also left their own legacy. . .

Most occupiers and owners of the site on which Tatefield Hall now stands seemed to have stayed for several generations as is the case with the Kent family who arrived in 1818.

This family were primarily farmers and agricultural engineers though over the years, through marriage, had become quite well connected with the local gentry, so a family with an element of status and position.

Having moved from Menwith near Blubberhouses, it is unclear exactly where they lived there.

Bramley B (presumably Benjamin) Kent, known fondly as ‘Frosty Whiskers’ in the late 1800s took a wife, called Marian Rosa, who is believed to have been Belgian, this might explain the French legacy in the family’s personal belongings.

After his father’s death in 1925. Benny (Benjamin) Kent took over this small estate/country residence and on his passing the family legacy focused on Jim and Vivian Kent in 1968. Incidently, whilst Vivian’s accent is a giveaway she was, in fact, evacuated from London and her family during the last war when, her father had been a typewriter mechanic with the Air Ministry.

When the couple first got to know each other Jim was living at Bilton in Harrogate and where Vivian was recently recognised for her charitable work.

However, it is probably Benny Kent who became the most noted member of the Kent family. As a renowned historian and archaeologist, he added to the collection of antiquities that had been started by Bramley with artefacts of historic value from all over the world.

The collection was eventually bequeathed to Harrogate Corporation (as it was then known) though, as Vivian said, she does wonder if they quite valued the importance of the collection at the time, though this has perhaps changed in more recent times.

Benny also acknowledged the responsibilities of his station in life by becoming a County Councillor For Wetherby.

Tatefiled Hall lies to the south of the River Crimple thus putting it outside the old administrative borders of the old Harrogate Borough.

It’s not even in the parish of Beckwithshaw despite this being its nearest village centre. A photograph depicts Benny and his colleagues, probably taken during the First World War, in full costume taking part in a Gilbert and Sullivan production for the Village Hall!

Returning to Tatefield Hall, this property has many quirks and mysteries and it is believed at one time to have been a three storey property probably a yeoman’s house, further evidence of its former importance in the region.

It is in fact the adjacent Old Brew House which is presumed to be the oldest standing roofed structure in the Forest of Knaresborough.

However, part of one of the internal walls on the Hall dates back to pre 1300s.

The building has of course undergone various additions and alterations over the centuries and it is obvious that the present building is twice the width of the original foundations.

Therefore, this has led some experts to suggest it stands on the site of a Nordic Long House. Probably we will never know for certain, especially as times marches on and successive generations add their marks to ongoing history.

We can, however, reasonably presume that the area surrounding Tatefield Hall is that of an ancient settlement as the hamlet of nearby Beckwithshaw has almost disappeared from current mapping but the name is of Nordic origin and of significance.

I would also like to take this opportunity to suggest that the civil servants who have corrupted the nearby name of Briscoe Rigg and the lane that goes to it Briscoe Ridge Lane should return to its former glory, in line with its Nordic origins meaningfully depicting the local topography before our whole rich history and ancestry is lost in ‘text speak’ and the threads that link us to our Danelaw and Saxon past are severed for ever.

Moving swiftly back to the present, and perhaps the future, Gordon Atkinson of Elite Meats of Starbeck has recently put his butchers shop into the very highest echelons in the country emphatically endorsing what the name over the door suggests.

He has recently received a National Supreme Championship with his cooked beef which is Limestone County Beef secured from a local Dales farmer. He and his staff have also recently been awarded several other major national awards for excellence.

However, as pre-Christmas is their busiest time of the year a full profile has been put on hold until the new year.