Wednesday, 21 December 2016

A Home Fit for a Banker

Sudbrook Holm c. 1800
Sudbrooke Holme was probably one of the largest and most impressive country houses near Lincoln.  The house stood near a lake in 200 acres of parkland 5 miles north-east of Lincoln.  Built by Richard Ellison, (1721-1792) in 1780, his son Richard Ellison. (1754-1827) later enlarged the house.

Richard Ellison bought a 999-year lease on the Fossdyke Navigation in 1741 from Lincoln Corporation.  The canal had been neglected for many years, Richard improved the canal and soon barges were able to carry goods to and from Lincoln.  

In 1775 Ellison, Senior formed a partnership with Abel Smith and John Brown to open Lincoln’s first bank, Smith, Ellison and Brown, each partner held equal shares;  Abel Smith was a grandson of Thomas Smith who opened the country’s first provincial bank in Nottingham in 1658.

Richard Ellison the younger was one of the members of parliament for Lincoln from 1796 to 1812.

Sudbrook Park early 20th century
Large amounts of money were spent in furnishing the interior of the house with many art treasures. It was famous for its library of bookcases made to the designs of the acclaimed eighteenth-century architect, Robert Adam. The house had twenty-eight main bedrooms; the principal rooms were decorated in the Adam style with many beautiful ceilings. Plant supplying acetylene gas was used to light and heat the house and an excellent supply of water was drawn from artesian wells.  

The gardens were famous and highly regarded.

Coningsby Charles Sibthorp, J.P. purchased the house and park in 1877, he lived there for over 30 years.

Entrance to the former Sudbrook Park

Two new lodges and wrought-iron gates were erected in 1910, the gates were made by Frederick Coldron and Son, ecclesiastical and artistic iron workers and blacksmiths of Brant Broughton.  The gates had bells fitted to attract the attention of the lodge keepers. The gates fitted today are recent replacements as the original gates were sold at auction for £95.

1919 Sale Notice

By 1911 Coningsby Sibthorp was living at the Dower House at Canwick, but there were still 12 servants living in at Sudbrook Holme, and 11 servants living in at Canwick. Coningsby’s wife, Mary, died in 1902 and was possibly the reason he “downsized”.  

Until the mid-nineteenth century most men and women in Lincolnshire were employed in agriculture or worked in service, but the coming of industrialisation meant that owners of large houses were finding it more difficult to employ servants at economical wages.  This situation was exacerbated by the First World War when many women gained new skills working for the war effort.  

Sudbrook Holm in 1919

In 1919 Sibthorp decided to sell the Sudbrook house and estate.  The auction at the Lincoln Corn Exchange took place on Thursday 2nd October 1919.   Included in the sale were several farms 'with most superior houses', two gentlemen's smaller residences, small holdings and accommodation land, consisting of 1938.736 acres. The estate sold for  £50,000, but the house was withdrawn at £15,000.  

Ernest Terah Hooley, the millionaire financier and fraudster purchased the house sometime before 1926; it was announced on 10th January 1926 that Lincoln Corporation had an option to purchase from Hooley. The option lapsed on 5th February 1926.

The house was demolished in 1928, the interiors were carefully removed and fetched much more that the £15,000 that was reached at auction. Today the park and lake are overgrown, modern homes mix with the older estate houses.

Coningsby Charles Sibthorp died in 1932, the last male member of the ancient family that dated back to Saxon times.

It has been suggested that Sibthorp sold the estate due to some loss of fortune, but he left £93,500 in his will which today would be worth around £15,000,000.

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