A ‘Potted’ History of Wydale Hall.
The Cayley Family
The Cayley family were important landowners in the local area and their descendants still own land and live locally. Sir George Cayley was a person of significance in various fields. First he was an aeronautical engineer responsible for the first manned flight in Brompton Dale in 1853. He was also a deeply religious man and put his faith into practice in the way he related to his tenants. He was one of the first landlords to ensure that each tenant had at least an acre of land to sustain their family needs. Further, when the son of one of his tenants lost his hand in an accident, George set to work to make him an artificial limb. He later modified the design so that the hand was lighter and more flexible. George was invited to take the young man to Court. He was presented to Prince Albert and shook the Prince’s hand very firmly!
The House Grows!
In 1877, the two-storey section was added, together with the Library Lounge and Main Hall. The 20th century saw the development of the Chapel (formerly the ballroom!) the kitchen and the dining room. The Chapel was designed by George Pace a notable architect whose family still live in York. He also designed many of the churches in York, Llandaff Cathedral and the King George Memorial Chapel at Windsor. Peter Fletcher, who was Warden at Wydale for fourteen years, worked to develop the dining room and give each bedroom en suite facilities. We are, always in the process of continuing Wydale’s development and we hope that guests will enjoy our facilities.
A Change of Owner
In the 1900’s the House was sold to the Illingworth family, (Mr Illingworth was the Chief Cashier for the Bank of England at the time). In the First World War Wydale was turned into a hospital. The Second World War saw Wydale being used in various ways. First, it was used as a base for the Northumberland Hussars, it then became Defence Platoon HQ and finally it was used as a Prisoner of War Camp for Italians POW’s.
After the war Wydale was leased to the Sisters of the Order of the Holy Paraclete from Whitby. They used the House as a Convent School, and we still have visitors who come and share their memories of those days. Later, the Sisters developed Wydale as a Retreat Centre offering space for individual and group Retreats. In December 1962, Wydale was bought by the Diocese of York as its Retreat and Conference Centre. We have not kept count of all the hundreds of guests who have crossed the threshold at Wydale over the past 55 years or so, but now we hope that all our guests will continue to find Wydale a place of real refreshment and re-creation.