From Anglo-Saxon burials and the lost Art Deco Bandstand to medieval fields and mock battles, the Museum team at Sewerby Hall and Gardens have been busy during lockdown uncovering some of the forgotten and unusual stories from this remarkable house and estate for a series of podcasts on the Sewerby Hall Facebook page and YouTube channel.
In the last podcast, Education Officer, Robert Chester told the astonishing story of how the Lloyd Greame family illuminated the house by making their own acetylene gas in the small building in the courtyard now used as an ice cream kiosk.
Robert explained: “It is great to be able to identify the original use for this building. It was not uncommon for country houses to make their own gas, but the buildings they used often don’t survive. This is a very modest structure and it is incredible to think it is of such significance to the history of the hall.”
The building is some distance from the house itself, a wise precaution as acetylene gas is very explosive!
The next podcast will tell the story of a very different type of country seat and will look at the history of the lavatory in Sewerby Hall and how during the Regency period the family moved from chamber pots to a fitted lavatory, installing a flushing water closet, over 30 years before Queen Victoria had one in Windsor Castle.
Robert Chester said: “It was quite a moment when I discovered that the family had installed a flushing toilet at Sewerby Hall in the Regency period. It explained quite a lot of puzzling features in the house.”
He added: “Before flushing toilets we imagine the potty under the bed, but actually the Georgians were far less squeamish about bodily functions than we are and they would have been quite happy using a chamber pot in any of the rooms of the house if the need arose. Installing a water closet in the early 1800s, when the technology was still in its infancy shows just how forward looking the family were”.
The water closet was on the first floor and flushed by rainwater water collected from the roof. The full story will be told in a podcast released on Wednesday, 16 June.