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You are here: > Home > The Hall > History of Burton Agnes Hall

History of Burton Agnes Hall


In 1173 Roger de Stuteville built the Norman manor-house, the lower chamber of which still remains today. Since then the property has never changed hands by sale, though it has passed from family to family on occasion when the male line has ended. One of his daughters was named Agnes and she may have been responsible for the name Burton Agnes, which was first recorded on a deed witnessed about 1175.


The Griffiths were a Welsh family who had emigrated to Staffordshire in the thirteenth century. They became well-known in the Midlands but do not seem to have taken much interest in Burton Agnes until 1457, when an heir to the estates, Sir Walter Griffith, came to live in the old manor house. He is believed to have added the room above, which would have been the Great Hall. His son won his knighthood in the Earl of Surrey's campaign against James IV in 1497.


Sir George Griffith succeeded his father aged twenty one. He received a knighthood at Calais in 1532, when Henry VIII met Francis I of France on the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Sir Henry Griffith was fifteen when his father died. At first he seemed to have been more interested in his Midlands estates. In 1584 he was Justice of the Peace for Staffordshire, and later High Sheriff of the county. In 1599 he was appointed to the Council of the North, based in York, and, although he had already started to build a new home in the Midlands, this was abandoned in favour of strategically sited Burton Agnes. His son Henry was one of the King's supporters during the Civil War. He surrendered three weeks after the Battle of Marston Moor and was heavily fined by Parliament.


Sir Matthew Boynton was a Royalist. He contrived the seizure of Sir John Hotham, the Governor of Hull, but later changed allegiance and was appointed by Cromwell to command the Garrison of Hull. He took surrender of Scarborough Castle and remained Governor of the Castle until his death. His son Matthew succeeded his father as Governor of Scarborough Castle but afterwards revolted in favour of the King, sustained a siege of five months and surrendered on honourable terms. He was slain at Wigan Lane in the advance of King Charles' army out of Scotland in 1651. His two daughters were Ladies of the Royal Bedchamber and gave evidence in the 'Warming-pan Plot'.

William and Mary/Queen Anne

William Boynton was the first member of the Boynton family to reside at Burton Agnes. His son, Sir Griffith Boynton, 3rd Baronet, made a number of alterations to the house, particularly the upstairs drawing-room.


Mary Hebblethwaite, widow of the 6th Baronet, married secondly John Parkhurst of Catesby Abbey, Northamptonshire, known as 'Handsome Jack'. On coming into his estates, he soon ran through his fortune in reckless extravagance. He was a close companion of Colonel Thornton, whom he joined in many of his wild and expensive exploits. He is said to have brought up three stepsons, who each in turn succeeded to the baronetcy, in 'every sort of vice'.


The second of the three brothers, Sir Francis was a great sportsman and bred famous gamecocks to fight in the cockpit, the site of which still exists in the Park Field. He married Sarah Bucktrout, a circus rider whose father kept the Black Swan in York.


Sir Henry Somerville Boynton was a great naturalist and kept aviaries at the Hall. He also had a large collection of stuffed birds which were lent to the Hull Museum, but were destroyed by bombs in 1942.

Twentieth Century

The estate of Burton Agnes was inherited by Cicely Boynton, daughter of the 11th Baronet. She married Thomas Lamplugh Wickham, who assumed the name and arms of Boynton. Their eldest son, Major Henry Fairfax Wickham-Boynton, died on active service in 1942, and on the death of their mother the estate passed to their younger son, Marcus Wickham-Boynton. He was High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1953 and Deputy-Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire. He was responsible for extensive restoration of the house, the most notable of which was the restoration of the Long Gallery. He greatly added to the treasures at Burton Agnes: notably the collection of French paintings, the Epstein bronzes, the Chinese porcelain and much rare furniture. In 1977 he gave Burton Agnes Hall, some 42 acres of surrounding gardens and grounds, over 600 acres of good agricultural land plus a substantial cash endowment to the trustees of a registered charity formed for the protection and future upkeep of Burton Agnes Hall and its valuable contents. This ensures that the Hall remains well cared for and open to the public.

It is hoped at the same time that it will remain a 'lived-in' family home occupied by future generations of the Boynton family, which has once again gone through the female line via Mary Constance Boynton, to Simon, son of Nicholas and Susan Cunliffe-Lister.

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