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Scale House

Notes by A Armstrong after a visit in 2011


Her interpretation is below.



A look at the house shows that parts of it date from 17thC  and before  it was sold by the Watkinsons in 1704 and enlarged by the Morley family in the early 18thc. 

About 1609 the well-to-do Watkinsons bought the property from the Earl Of Northumberland. It is likely the property was rebuilt soon after. This is likely to be a cross passage house with good stone fireplace.  In 1657 (George Fox Journal) Quaker meetings were held at George Watkinson’s house and at Scale House (the house of George’s brother William).  In 1677 meetings moved to Raikes. A deed of 1664 (R.H.) tells of the division of the “new dwelling house”.  It may have been as much as 50 years old by that time and still in living memory.  William Watkinson junior had the east part but with free egress to it through the other half of the building occupied by W Watkinson senior.  Father and son then shared the house in 1664.  The garden lying on the south of the parlour window, in the son’s part, was also included.  The parlour (probably the room with the large fireplace) must then have overlooked the garden.  The east part of the house included “the parlour or the several rooms or chambers above it  and within it” . 

A picture thus emerges of the extent of the older house which matches architectural detail and parts of the present plan.  (See plan)  The 17thC parts including  the porch entrance and  the north facade and the east wing . After 1704, when the house was sold, the symmetrical S front  range was added and the house much enlarged. Old photos show the south garden front doorway in “pattern book” style with a large pediment hood. 

By 1731 the Morleys were gentlemen of Scale House and considerable land owners in Craven.  JM remains on a 1758 rainwater head. At the Enclosure of the commons in 1772 the Morleys had cattle-gates on North Moor and Bark, showing they were gentry farmers. The Rev Bury recalls painted hunting scenes on the walls of one of the ground floor rooms. This may have been in the stair hallway and perhaps c 1730s to go with the re-modelled house.  

About 1860 the house was enlarged and modernised again. This included the addition of three corner turrets, with a new west front entrance block, perhaps reflecting the new turnpike road of 1835 on that side.  The NE corner of the house was extended with a Victorian service wing to form the E side of a court yard. A further portico was added to the porch about 1910. Carriage houses made up the north side of the courtyard.   Since a new entrance was made in the 1860s on the west side, the presence of stables and carriage houses visible from the old north entrance did not matter.

A large barn complex is shown to the SE on the OS 1850 map.  This has now gone and is the site of a shrubbery and   terraced gardens probably dating from the 18thC.  In 1664 this was probably “the barn or laithe called the new barn“

and also  Watkinson junior’s  “one halfe  of the barn adjoining to the said new barn , that is to say the west end thereof.”  This matches the barn’s plan on the maps, with what was a long, perhaps cruck-built, barn with a new barn and porch added on the west. The stable in the N courtyard of the house appears to be a late building and was not a barn. The older pre- 1704 house can be traced from its very thick walls and architectural detail.

The parts of this house are (see sketch);


                                             The north frontage with three storey porch,

                                             The five bay mullioned and transomed windows of the S front.

                                             The low end east wing


                              -  the stone arched fireplace,

                              - the east wing ,

                              -  (the roof trusses are c 1700 so probably later)


 It must be remembered that Scale is a pre-Norman estate and remained a separate estate, as did Bucker or Bucross at the North end of Rylstone.  Both Scale and Bucross are Norse names. The 1909 OS 25 inch map, seen  inside Scale House , showed  the  estate with its Scale House farm. The extent of the “Scale” field names to the south and just to the north may indicate the limits of the earlier land boundary. The field boundary on the south remains as an earthwork but the field boundaries have been removed.

The older house probably always had its entrance on the north and the 17thC porch remains on the north. This may seem unusual since most old houses face south.  The reason for this north entrance is probably because the house was in Rylstone  township and  its entry faced the village and village fields, not the  wooded park lands to the south which were the medieval demesne lands and deer parks of the de Rylstone/Nortons and the Cliffords. 

Earthworks show there was an old road on the south side from the house towards the present Sandy Gate Bar. The old hollow-ways went through the fields to Scale House.  Later the road was re-routed further east  from the house to the present  Sandy  Lane and was diverted away from the house.

Even with the present road of 1835 and a new west entrance range in 1860, the south garden front remained private, overlooking the old manorial woodlands. The old north entrance became a Victorian courtyard with stables and an east extension attached to the House.  It is possible that the house did have an earlier courtyard, perhaps with a gatehouse, lodgings and, attached to the service wing, a  brew-house and all the usual outbuildings. Documents might reveal this.



The north frontage

This had the main 17thC entrance porch.  The architectural detail suggests a rather high status house incorporating features from pattern books like the eared doorway and the bull’s eye oval window. Some mullioned and transomed windows have rather flat mouldings typical of c 1700 but a style continuing to 1740. (An eared doorway is reused for the privy at Park House Bordley and flat mouldings are seen at Malham 1735.)  The basement/cellar doorway with wide chamfer stops and a window at the NW have plain wide chamfers and splayed mullions. Whilst these might be of older date it could also be that this door and window are just lower status. The east wing similarly has plain splayed transomed windows and only the stair window has flat mouldings.

The central doorway on the north gives symmetry. However the symmetry is broken by the very vernacular large hall/ stair window with flat moulded surrounds on one side of the porch. This is a very vernacular feature.

The quoins of the east wing are seen where 19thC work is added on.  The wing was originally not as high as the present eaves, and has been heightened for the East wing extension and to extend the east wing roof up, to meet the 19thC towers.

 It is unclear if there was a matching west or solar wing beyond the hall.  However the Plinth seems to curve around the west end which suggests there was never a west wing of stone.


The south frontage

The five bays of mullioned and transomed windows in the central part are “Queen Ann” and early 18thC in gritstone ashlar with a wide cornice at the eaves. The narrow central window has been heightened to make a French window and its 18thC pediment door hood is missing but appears in old 19thC photos. The mullioned and transomed window mouldings possibly match some on the north front, perhaps deliberately, to blend in. The 1860s Italianate towers cleverly copy the older ashlar and window details, so the old and new work blends in remarkably well and the whole south side looks uniform from a distance.

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