Lord Somerleyton returns to his family roots in Halifax

Lord Somerleyton at the Courier office library.
Lord Somerleyton at the Courier office library.

FOR 150 years, the decendants of one of Halifax’s most influential families have lived on a 5,000 acre estate seven miles from Great Yarmouth.

Although their Victorian redesigned Jacobean mansion is open to visitors, few have any idea that much of its splendour stems from the profits generated by the textile trade in a northern mill town.

Hugh Crossley, the fifth generation of this once highly philanthropic family, intends to put that right by publishing a new guide to his ancestral home, his research bringing him back to Halifax where he has been trawling through the Courier archives.

“There is so much interesting information about Somerleyton Hall which has not been told. It would not be what it is today but for the family business in Halifax and I think it is really important that we make people aware of that,” said Lord Somerleyton, who lives at the hall with his wife, Lara, and their children John and Christobel.

Today the building hosts weddings, fashion shows, concerts, festivals and exhibitions. There is a huge lake and woodland lodges which are rented out to holidaymakers, a golf course, church, pub and a hotel.

“As textile income declined, the house became a liability and my predecessors only kept it going by sellng heirlooms - I’m turning it around using tourism, farming and the property portfolio,” he said.

*Sir Francis Crossley together with his father, John, and his brothers, founded the carpet firm of John Crossley & Sons, which at its height employed 5,000 people at Dean Clough. He was the Mayor of Halifax, a Liberal MP from 1859-1872 and was created a baronet in 1863.

He built Belle Vue Mansion and People’s Park, the Crossley Almshouses in Margaret Street and Crossley Orphanage, now Crossley Heath School.

He bought the Somerleyton Estate in 1862 as his country residence.