King Richard III House in Scarborough: Part II

This is the second installment of an article originally published in the Yorkshire Journal (Issue no. 4, 2015) by Jeremy Clark. He has kindly contributed his work to be republished here.

For Part I of this article, please click here.

Article Summary:

A comprehensive investigation of the history and characteristics of the house, as well as the popular belief that King Richard III stayed here during the summer of 1484.

As mentioned in Part I of this article, King Richard III House in Scarborough was purchased by a Mr E. Booth Jones in 1914. However, he sadly died in the Lusitana disaster of 1915, after which his relative Mr. Edgar Burrows took over the lease.

Burrows decided to rebuild the bay windows at the front, which were removed in the mid-1800s, when the house was repaired and modernised, and to uncover the stone walls. The replica bay windows he installed were based on an early drawing of the house by a Miss Wharton, published in the Scarborough Philosophical Society Reports of 1846-1865.


Above: Miss Wharton’s drawing of the house, dating from about 1835 – before the bay windows at the front were removed. There are steps leading up to the front door of the house and another set of steps with a banister on the sides leading to the entrance to the building on the left. The ground level is much lower compared with more recent photographs of the building, and the projecting boards and plinth indicate that the sea was in closer reach of the building during the early 1800s (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)

Miss Wharton also made a drawing of what has been called the King’s Bedchamber, on the second floor, in about 1808. It was then furnished with an elegant heavy legged table, a cupboard and a four poster bed.


Above: Miss Wharton’s drawing of the ‘King’s Bedchamber’ illustrating the
furniture, decorated plastered ceiling and pattern on the chimney breast. To the
right of the fireplace is the entrance door to the room, and further to the right are the steps leading to the attic door (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)

This furniture was disposed of by former owners – the Tindalls – in about 1808. The table went to Troutsdale Manor House and later acquired by John Wharton. It was passed on to Mr Roberts, late curator of the Scarborough Museum, who sold it to Mr William Flounders – an antique dealer. He in turn sold it to Major Brooke of Leeds


Above: Detailed drawing of the table by Miss Wharton, illustrating its scrolling foliage front frieze, adored with what appear to be lion faces. In style and design it is likely to be Dutch and dates to about 1600-1650 (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)

The four poster bed and cupboard went to Joseph Taylor, who presented them to the Duchess of Leeds before his death in 1810. They were reported to be in Hornby Castle in 1879. When the Hornby Castle estate was broken up in 1930, the furniture was sold off at auction.


Above: Drawing of the four poster bed by John W. Whaley, illustrating the beautiful design with its intricately carved head board (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)

Miss Wharton’s original drawings of the house also depict the steeply-gabled roof, which had a decorated plastered ceiling below the attic. There is also decorative plasterwork on the chimney breast.

Furthermore, the drawings completed by Miss Wharton and John W. Whaley suggest that the furniture examples in the King’s Bedchamber were genuine seventeenth century pieces. The four poster bed is typically English in style, dating to approximately 1560-1620. The cupboard is probably later, perhaps 1600-1650,  but more Dutch than English in style and design.

The table is about the same date – 1600-1650 – and again, is of a type more typically found in Holland than England. The Dutch connection with the furniture may have something to do with the Cockerill and Tindall families being shipbuilders in the seventeenth century and possibly trading with the Netherlands. It also seems likely that the furniture was installed in the house when it was owned by the Cockerills in the seventeenth century.


Above: This is the earliest plan of Scarborough – drawn in 1538 for Henry VIII as part of a military survey of the coast. It clearly shows the town wall with two gates and the harbour beneath the castle on the headland. This plan was drawn at the time the original house was standing, where Richard is reputed to have stayed in 1484. There is a tall building illustrated near the harbour and in design and style it looks remarkably like the King Richard III house (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)

When Mr. Burrows began restoring the interior in 1915, he discovered blocked-up old stone doorways on one side of the building, and on the other side, early windows (also filled in), showing that it was once part of a much larger, detached house. The earliest detailed illustration of this is in John Setterington’s pictorial engraving of Scarborough dated 1735 (see below).


Above: Setterington’s engraving (via Yorkshire Journal, Issue 4, 2015)

Here the building features a two storey hall and extended west-wing. These extensions, shown on this engraving, do not remain today, but the accurate portrayal of St. Mary’s Church on the same image suggest that King Richard III house was fairly represented. Between 1780 and 1800 the adjoining two storey hall and the rear west-wing of the building were demolished, leaving, in part, the original fifteenth century house which remains today, with the surrounding area redeveloped. To the east side a lower small building was attached and to the west a larger building was constructed.

Today the King Richard III house is a Grade I listed building.

To be continued…


For a full list of acknowledgements, and to see the article in its original format, please visit the Yorkshire Journal (Issue 4, 2015). All copyright retained by the author.

Many thanks to Jeremy for sharing this article! Look out for part 3, coming soon…

3 thoughts on “King Richard III House in Scarborough: Part II

  1. Pingback: King Richard III House in Scarborough: Part III | Stories From Scarborough

  2. Pingback: King Richard III in Scarborough: Fact or Fiction? | Stories From Scarborough

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