Aston Hall

Aston Hall Hotel, Worksop Rd, Aston, South Yorkshire S26
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During the early 1760s, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown laid out new grounds for the 4th Earl of Holderness at his Aston estate.

Aston, near Sheffield, South Yorkshire, lies in the southern part of the old West Riding of Yorkshire. The existing house was damaged by fire around 1750 and a new house, designed by architect John Carr (1723–1807, Wikipedia) had replaced it by 1766. Work on the landscape took place between 1762 and 1767, when the old formal gardens and an avenue leading south were removed.

Capability Brown created a ha-ha (sunken wall), to allow uninterrupted views towards two new lakes that had been created from fishponds. The Park was dotted with clumps of trees and there was a new plantation to the west, with walks leading to a summer-house.

New rides were cut through Nicker Wood on the edge of the park. New ‘model’ farms were built on the estate so that visitors could travel between them by carriage, enjoying the ‘charming views to each side’.

An expert surveyor

The earl’s account books show that a survey of the estate was done in 1760 and that £100 (nearly £170,000 in 2015) was paid to a ‘Mr Brown’. There is some question over whether the man was Brown’s brother, John, who worked for the earl at Hornby Castle during that period.

It is likely that Brown would also have had access to high quality maps of the estate, drawn by surveyor George Jackson, who also worked on the earl’s other estates. The earl thought highly of Jackson’s skills, describing him as ‘very accurate in his work, very neat in mapping, & I think one of the best Judges of Land I have ever met’.

Aston in the 20th century

The estate has been broken up and Aston Hall has been operating as a hotel since 1984.


Information courtesy of the Yorkshire Gardens Trust and the New Arcadian Press.

For an extended and fully annotated account please see: Karen Lynch, ‘Capability Brown in Yorkshire’, in Dr Patrick Eyres (Ed), Yorkshire Capabilities: New Arcadian Journal 75/76, 2016

For a lavishly illustrated account of Brown in Yorkshire please see: Karen Lynch, Noble Prospects: Capability Brown & the Yorkshire Landscape, Harrogate: Mercer Art Gallery & Yorkshire Gardens Trust, 2016