History

The Worsley family bought the Manor of Hovingham in 1563. They were an old Lancashire family; legend says they were descended from Elias, a giant who died fighting on the Crusades. Worsley, the town from which they took their name, is now a suburb of Manchester.

It was Thomas Worsley who designed and built Hovingham Hall. He was obsessed with horses and architecture and the house remains the product of the extraordinary fusion of these two obsessions. Thomas Worsley became a close friend of King George III and is reputed to have taught him to ride. It was this friendship and Thomas's enthusiasm for architecture that meant when George III became King in 1760 he was appointed Surveyor General to the Board of Works.

Cricket has been played in front of the house since at least 1858 when a Hovingham team, 22 strong, took on an All England team - and lost! Today the pitch is played on by the village team. In the days of the fourth Sir William Worsley, who captained Yorkshire in 1928 and 1929 and was President of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club for many years, it was played on by many of the county's most distinguished players, Herbert Sutcliffe, Len Hutton, Freddie Trueman and Geoff Boycott amongst them.

Oliver Cromwell, an ancestor of the Worsley’s
The Worsley coat of arms
Hovingham Hall a fusion of two obsessions.
Cricket is still played on the country's oldest privately owned pitch
Hovingham Hall is the family home of H.R.H The Duchess of Kent
The Riding School

Music has also played an important part in the life of the house. This started in 1886 when a local vicar, Canon Hudson, went to preach at the harvest festival. Afterwards he went into the neighbouring Riding School to hear excerpts from Handel’s Messiah. He thought the Messiah was indifferently performed but noticed that the acoustics were surprisingly good and from this followed a series of Hovingham Music Festivals in which the famous violinist Joseph Joachim performed on three occasions. These continued over the years, somewhat sporadically, but for the last thirty or so years the Ryedale Festival has performed operas and concerts on an annual basis.

In 1961 Hovingham was home to even more distinguished company when the only daughter of Sir William Worsley married H.R.H. The Duke of Kent in York Minster followed by a reception at Hovingham Hall attended by many of the Crowned Heads of Europe.

The house is currently lived in by Sir William Worsley (the great, great, great, great grandson of the builder) and his family.

 
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