The Yorkes of Erddig - Simon or Philip?
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Erddig was owned by the Yorke family for 240 years, and each of them was called either Simon or Philip.
Simon I inherited Erddig from his uncle John Meller in 1733. Meller, a successful London lawyer, had bought up the debts of Joshua Edisbury, the High Sheriff of Denbighshire.
Reversal of fortune
Joshua Edisbury had built himself a new house, nine bays wide, at Erddig beginning in 1684. But he'd overstretched himself and by 1709 was bankrupt.
Once John Meller had purchased Erddig he set about furnishing his new house with the very best furniture and fabrics. He began extending it to the north and south by the addition of two-storey wings, his 'rooms of parade'.
With no wife or children Meller looked to his sister's son, Simon Yorke, to supervise the completion and delivery of his valuable new furnishings for Erddig.
He then bequeathed the house to his nephew Simon on his death in 1733.
Simon I enjoyed his good fortune, developing the garden but doing little to the house. His marriage to heiress Dorothy Hutton produced one son, Philip.
Philip I inherited Erddig on his father's death in 1767. An inheritance from his mother's brother meant he was able to marry Elizabeth Cust, daughter of Sir John Cust of Belton.
The inheritance and her dowry helped finance their changes to Erddig, creating:
- the Saloon
- the Library
- new furnishings and wallpaper
- recasing the west front of the house in stone, and
- building the new kitchen, domestic offices and stable yard.
On his death in 1804 he left Erddig to his eldest son, Simon.
A new era
Simon II married Margaret Holland and they had six children, two of which died in infancy.
Simon was sociable and entertained family and friends. He soon saw the need for a large dining room. He commissioned Thomas Hopper to create a large room in Meller's southern suite of rooms, at the same time refurbishing other rooms in the wing, installing underfloor heating and a bell system.
He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Simon.
Simon the gardener
Simon III made many alterations to the park and gardens, creating the steps from the saloon making better access to the re-laid out parterre with its new fountains.
He and his wife Victoria Cust also created a music room in the Entrance Hall, moving the front entrance to the Tribes Room.
After his death in 1894 his son Philip moved back to Erddig.
Age of austerity
Philip II and his wife Louisa Scott made few alterations to Erddig but worked to preserve the house and its contents with a diminishing number of servants.
Simon IV inherited Erddig in 1922 at the age of 19. The estate was in serious financial trouble and few staff remained. The nationalisation of the Coal Board in 1947 meant that coal was mined from beneath the house and serious subsidence took place.
Simon became a recluse, no electricity, no telephone, keeping away the outside world. Erddig declined but Simon refused to part with anything and all remained intact.
Giving Erddig to the National Trust
Philip III inherited Erddig on his brother's death. Neither brother had married and Philip began negotiations with the National Trust. He gave Erddig to the National Trust in 1973 who then began a four year period of restoration.
Philip died in 1978. But as the last squire of Erddig, Philip lived long enough to see Erddig returned to the former glory of the home he remembered as a child.
Philip Yorke III had saved 'this unique establishment for which my family have forgone many luxuries and comforts over seven generations'.