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Aftermath - Walton Hall after the Watertons

Death of Charles Waterton
Following his death in 1865, Charles Waterton, in accordance with his wishes, was buried at the far eastern end of the lake not far from the point where Drain Beck feeds the lake (Drain Beck feeds the lake and then leaves it near the main car park in the direction of Shay Lane at Brooklands ).

Walton Hall was heavily mortgaged. Waterton's son, Edmund, was as different to the Squire as chalk is to cheese; it seems that he cared little for the things that his father considered important. Edmund was a spendthrift and was eventually forced to flee to the continent to escape his creditors. Early ambitious plans to build a mausoleum on the island were abandoned.

1871 - Edward Hailstone
In 1871, the hall was let for 21 years to Edward Hailstone, a colourful character of some distinction. Hailstone was a collector of books, furniture, art and antiques. He moved his valuable collection to the hall. During his tenancy many parts of the hall were occupied by his extensive collection. (read more)

1876 - Sale of Library
In 1876, after Edmund Waterton had been declared bankrupt, the extensive library, built up by the Watertons over many a long year, was sold to clear some of the debt.

1878 Walton Hall Estate Sold to Edward Simpson
Worse was to follow: in 1878, the estates were sold to none other than Edward Simpson, son of 'Soapy' Simpson, the Squire's old adversary from the bitter Soap Works pollution battle years before. The price paid by the Simpsons was £114,000 - a huge sum then, based on the expectations of large reserves of workable coal on the estates. The Simpsons continued to live in Thornhill House in School Lane, Walton, whilst the tenancy of Mr Hailstone continued until his death.

1890 - Hailstone Dies, the Simpsons move in.
Following the death of Hailstone, the Simpsons took up residence in Walton Hall.

1891 - Some of Edward Hailstone's collection was sold at auction. Catalogue of the interesting contents of Walton hall, near Wakefield : the property of the late Edward Hailstone. Publisher: C. Sever Manchester, 1891.

1901 - An Advantageous Marriage
Edward Simpson's son, Edward Thornhill Beckett Simpson married Katharine Percy Tew on April 25th 1901. Katharine was the daughter of Percy Tew. The Tews were a wealthy banking family who lived at Heath Hall near Wakefield. They had three children: Madeline b. 28 Nov 1902, Katharine Mary b. 18 May 1904, and Edward Osmond Thornhill Beckett b. 1905.

1908 - Trouble For Soap Makers
Things were not well in the soap works world and by 1908, Edward Simpson had left the Hall to live in Walton Cottage in the village. The soap works at Thornes had not been modernised and, in common with other such works in the country, fell prey to the powerful competitors. This period saw the emergence of large industrial giants such as the Lever Brothers. Meanwhile, the Hall was let to a son of Lord St. Oswald from nearby Nostell Priory.

1920 - All Was Not Lost For The Simpsons
Despite the setback mentioned in 1908 (above), all was not lost for the Simpsons, and, eventually, it seems that Percy Tew intervened in about 1920, and the family fortunes were restored, and the Simpsons returned to live in Walton Hall, where they continued in residence right up to 1940.

1940 - Military Hospital
During the Second World War (1939 - 1945), many mansions throughout the country were requisitioned to help with the war effort, and Walton Hall was no exception. In 1940 it was made into a military hospital.

After the war, the Hall became a maternity hospital, this was despite the necessity of carrying patients by stretcher across the narrow wrought iron bridge that links the island with the mainland. On 14th June 1942, the first baby to be born at the Hall since the birth of Edmund Waterton, was delivered in the shape of Lorna Ann Eaton, whose parents lived in the village. (1) (2)

An interesting note: In his book, "The Letters of Charles Waterton of Walton Hall, Near Wakefield", R.A. Irwin expresses his gratitude to Mrs. Katherine Simpson of Thornhill House, Walton, for 'kindly allowing me to visit Walton Hall on several occasions'. (2) This is Katharine Percy Simpson, the widow of Edward Thornhill Becket Simpson (d. 20 Mar 1944). She died in Pinderfields Hospital on 19 Mar 1958.

1959 and 1967
The estates of Walton Hall were sold in 1959 and, in 1967, the hospital board's lease on the Hall expired. This was the beginning of a sad and forlorn period for the Hall.

In 1969, there was a proposal put forward for the acquisition of the Hall and Park by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). This would surely have met with the Squire's approval. But it came to naught.

In 1973, a scheme was put forward for the demolition of the Hall. Wakefield has a bit of a reputation for neglecting, and sometimes destroying, its past but, on this occasion, the 'knock it down' tendency did not prevail and the Hall survived. True, this proposal was for the erection of a sports pavilion with a large recreational.
Somewhat later, Wakefield Metropolitan District Council did allow the golf club to knock down a stretch of wall in front of the club house (actually, the golf club demolished the wall first and despite an enforcement order against them, the golf club persevered and succeeded in obtaining retrospective planning permission for their actions).

In 1974, plans were put forward for the Hall to be made into a community home and the Park to be made into a golf course. This proposal ended up in the bunker at the time.

The Walton Village Action Group had opposed the 1974 plans but in 1977, approval was obtained for the use of the lake as a water ski centre. Walton Hall was renovated and refurbished by the then owner. The Hall started its new life as a hotel but soon became a little frayed at the edges.

In the 1990s the Hall changed hands and the present owners of Waterton Park Hotel have restored some of its former splendour and replaced the rather ugly squash court building adjacent to Brockswood Court (formerly Walton Hall Farm) into an annex to the hotel. Now the hotel seems to be doing well. The leisure centre attached to the hotel is not too obtrusive, and the lake is well stocked with fish and popular amongst anglers and wildfowl alike.

The stables and farm buildings have been converted into private residences (Brockswood Court) and public access to the Park continues. The Park itself still serves as something of a refuge for wildlife as well as accommodating the Waterton Park Golf Course.

Waterton Park Golf Course was opened for play.

The Trans Pennine Trail passes close by to the Hall, along the course of the Barnsley Canal, and footpaths to Walton, Haw Park Woods and Anglers Country Park all pass through the Park.

The Grotto, sadly, is overgrown and largely laid to waste, but it still serves as something of a nature reserve.


1. A History of Walton, Peter Wright, 1985, Countryside Publications, ISBN 086157 191 6
2. "The Letters of Charles Waterton of Walton Hall, Near Wakefield", edited by R.A. Irwin.
Published 1955 by Rockliff Publishing Corporation Ltd., London.
3. Sources: official Census, Baptismal, Birth, Marriage, Deathand Probate Records.Records via Ancestry.co.uk, January 2021..

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Discover the Waterton Trail
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for a map of the trail.
Walton Hall is just off the Trans Pennine Trail and National Cycle Route 67.

Sustainable Transport
National Route 67 is a north / south route option of the Trans Pennine Trail (central) and is open between Leeds, Wakefield, Barnsley, and Sheffield



The English Flag - The Cross of St George. Part of our English Heritage. Walton Hall is included on
Images of England
IoE Number: 342353. Location: WALTON HALL, WALTON PARK (Waterton Park), WAKEFIELD, WEST YORKSHIRE.
Date listed: 11 April 1973. Date of last amendment: 11 April 1973 Grade II*

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