One of the first acts of the newly-nationalised coal industry in 1948 was to pull down Shipley Hall, a house of considerable architectural importance and indeed of some opulence. Yet it was the revenues from the coal reserves surrounding it which enabled it to be opulent and it was the extraction of that same mineral from beneath it which ensured its demise.
The estate at Shipley had a history going back into the Medieval period, for the powerful Yorkshire family of Vavasour had a seat there in the 13th century and this passed via an heiress to Robert Strelley who in 1331 had two parks there. By 1430 the family had a domestic chapel at the house which was, in the fashion of the times, probably ranged around two courtyards, as Haddon does today. Indeed, in 1599 it was described as "A large old house, well seated and dry" from which we may infer that not everyone enjoyed freedom from rising damp in Elizabethan England! Twenty one years later another account of the house adds that it was built of "part stone, part timber and plaster", which is perhaps exactly what we might expect from a Medieval house of this type.
In 1610 coal was already being exploited on the estate by the Byrons of Newstead (Continued)