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Calton Hall: Calton

Calton Hall
Calton Hall, stands on the edge of the village commanding a fine view of southern Malhamdale

Calton Hall is an impressive listed private dwelling standing at the western end of the village. The building we see today has medieval origins but has developed over the years and contains clear evidence of at least 3 phases of building.

Although stood on the site of and incorporating some of the original medieval residence that was the birthplace and home of the Parliamentarian, Major General John Lambert, the Hall we now see dates from the rebuilding by the next generation and later remodeling in the 18th and 19th centuries. The hall was owned by the family for two generations before the birth of the Major general. It was severely damaged by fire in the late 17th century whilst occupied by the Major General's son and heir, John and his wife Barbara (Lister).

According to the Leeds antiquary, Ralph Thoresby, John jnr. was not only a sportsman but a man of considerable culture and attainments:

"He was a most exact limner and had a choice collection of paintings ; an excellent scholar, man of much reading, great memory, admirable parts ; and in the exercises of bowling, shooting, and the like, excelling all the gentry of Craven"

He served as High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1699, and was buried at Kirkby Malham church on 20 March 1701-2 and this elaborate monumental tablet dedicated to him, is in the Lady chapel of St Michael the Archangel church, Kirkby Malham. Unfortunately he was the last of the Lamberts to live at Calton Hall as the line died out due to the early death of his sons and passed to his daughter's family.

Today's hall contains all that remains of John and Barbara's much grander dwelling, which was part demolished and changed into a large farmhouse during the late 18th century.


Lambert memorial
Click image to read inscription


The site has been the home of the Lambert family since the early 16th century and Morkill's History of Kirkby Malhamdale records this about the Hall:


John Lambert's ( Major General John's great grandfather) first possession in the parish of Kirkby Malhamdale was the manor of Airton which he purchased from Lord Dacre in 1530. Shortly afterwards he bought lands in the adjoining manor of Calton and in 1539 acquired the manor and manor-house (Calton Hall) from the executor of Geoffrey Malham. The Hall was evidently in a bad state of repair and it was made a condition of the bargain that the amount of necessary renovation should be assessed by ' four indifferent carpenters,' with a view, apparently, to an allowance in the purchase money. About this date, perhaps on the completion of the repairs, he appears to have made Calton his permanent residence since his subsequent deeds are dated from there. In 1540 he added to his possessions the extensive property in the parish of Kirkby Malhamdale which had belonged to the Priory of Bolton.

During Lambert's (Major General John's son) lifetime Calton Hall, described by Whitaker as ' then a very large old building,' was partly destroyed by fire, but was evidently restored in whole or in part, since for some years after his death it was occupied by his daughter and her husband. About the end of the eighteenth century, owing, it is said, to its ruinous condition, the greater part of the house was pulled down and the remainder (the western portion) converted into the present farmhouse. A bulge which appeared in the western wall of the latter some four years ago (abt. 1929), was found to have been caused by the decay of the mullions of two large Tudor windows which had been left in situ at the time of the above conversion. The windows were on the ground and first floors respectively and the fact that smaller windows of a similar character are visible from the false-roof in the higher portion of the same wall suggests that this part of the house was anciently a tower and that the house itself was of the type of Nappa in Wensleydale or of Farnhill near Kildwick. Traces of medieval work are notably a stone fireplace on the first floor, a Gothic doorway in the eastern wall, and a fragment of Gothic tracery belonging, apparently, to a window. A draw well in the garden and the stone balls which cap the entrance gateposts are worthy of notice, also the ancient oak beams which span the doors of the large barn at the corner of the lane and which are obviously relics of the old hall.

The estate then passed to Sir John Middleton of Belsay Castle, Northumberland, who had married their daughter and heiress Frances at Kirkby Malham in 1699. Morkill goes on to inform us that their son Sir William Middleton sold the Malhamdale property in 1727 to Oliver Marton, of Gray's Inn and of Capernwray in Lancashire. By his will, made in 1735, Oliver gave his Yorkshire estates to his eldest son Edward, with the remainder to his second and third sons, George and Oliver. On the death of his elder brothers without issue the youngest son, the Rev. Oliver Marton, Vicar of Lancaster, came into possession, but finding the Malhamdale property heavily mortgaged, he conveyed it in 1782 to trustees for sale. The southern portion of the estate, including the manors of Calton, Airton and Hanlith, was sold to Gamaliel Lloyd of Leeds. Retaining Calton Hall and some five hundred acres (Calton Hall farm), Lloyd on the following day conveyed the manors with all the rents, buildings and lands to William Alcock, Banker, of Skipton.

Calton Hall gates

Calton Hall is listed grade 2 and the following description of the Hall is transcribed from the details recorded in the listing.

Of medieval origins, altered in the C18 and C19, it is built in squared slobbered rubble,with stone dressings to the corners and a stone slate roof. It consists of 3 bays, two storeys in height with an entrance in the east gable end with a chamfered surround, a pointed arch and C20 door. To the left is a 2-light flat-faced mullioned window with a plain surround on the upper floor and a similar window on the ground floor with the mullion now gone; both have C20 casements. There is a coping and shaped kneelers to the gable end walls . The south wall (front) contains a C20 ground floor window on the right. The remaining openings are C19, with an entrance between the, 2 storey bay windows. Traces of earlier openings (now blocked) are visible between the 2 bays. There are stone chimney stacks on the ridge at the gable ends and centre. The north wall contains a first floor C17 2-light chamfered mullioned window with a 2-light window with a flat-faced transom to its left, Also a ground floor single-light window with a square surround. A 2-storey extension to the west contains a 2-light window with a flat-faced mullion on the ground floor and a similar but shorter window above and to the left a single-light stair window with square surrounds, spanning 1 1/2 storeys. Inside, the ground floor and upper floor each contain a fireplace with a chamfered surround and 4-centre arched lintel of 2 stone blocks. The former west gable end wall of the house extended to the central ridge stack which apparently contains traces of mullioned windows in the roof. The garden wall to the east contains an entrance flanked by ashlar gateposts each with a moulded cornice and a ball finial. The base of the right-hand gatepost is cut to take the first 2 steps of a 4-step mounting block on the exterior wall face.


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