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Lady Mary Worley Montagu


One of the best places to take afternoon tea in York is at Middlethorpe Hall.  This William and Mary house (built between 1699-1701) is just outside York (between the race course and the Archbishop of York‘s, Bishopthorpe Palace).  I absolutely adore this hotel, spa and restaurant as all is calm and relaxed – lots of antiques, real fires in winter and large grounds to wander around.  It’s like stepping back in time.


Middlethorpe Hall, York

The house was built for the prosperous cutler, Thomas Barlow.  The north entrance front has seven bays and three storeys. Wings were added by Francis Barlow, High Sheriff of Yorkshire in the mid-18th century. The porch is early 19th century addition.  Work did not stop two hundred years ago with some additions being made in the twentieth century eg the railings.

Thomas and Francis Barlow set out on the Grand Tour in 1712 and the house was leased by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (writer, feminist, traveller).  In 1713 she wrote to her husband saying, of the house, “Tis a very pretty place … I think there is nothing to be done but to send an immediate note to Mr Harrison to let him know I will be at Middlethorpe with my family Tuesday next.”


One of the gardens at Middlethorpe Hall

Lady Mary sent many letters to her husband and it is clear that she was very fond of the man she had eloped with (against the wishes of her father – unfortunately they were later to separate and then divorce).  She had hoped that her husband would join her but he never did – being concerned with the changes in the political landscape on the death of Queen Anne and the arrival of George I Lady Mary left Middlethorpe in 1714.

To remember Lady Mary’s time at Middlethorpe Hall there is the opportunity to enjoy the hotel and spa by booking a very special break (up until March 2014).  For more information see http://www.middlethorpe.com/Lady-Mary-300-Anniversary-Break/

There is even a special event on the 15th November:

– a lecture given by Peter Brown, MBE director of York Civic Trust (title:  A day in the Life of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in York c1713,

– a second shorter lecture by the food historian Ivan Day (http://www.historicfood.com/portal.htm) on The Sophisticated Dining of the Queen Anne Period and the Works of Art the Food was Served On

– Head Chef, Nick Evans, with the assistance of Ivan Day and original cook books/recipes has created a supper in the style favoured by Lady Mary when she entertained her most distinguished guests such as John Vanburgh and Lady Elizabeth Howard (daughter of Charles Howard, 3rd Earl of Carlisle).

– a Champagne Reception

The lectures start at 5:30pm, the reception at 6:30pm and banquet at 7:00pm

and dress?  Black tie or period costume…. wonderful!!

The cost per person is £89.50 per person or £179.50 per person with overnight accommodation and breakfast.