Guy Dawnay 1878 - 1916
Major-General Guy Payan Dawnay inherited Beningbrough in 1910 at the age of 32. He had fought in the Boer War, where he was a brilliant intelligence officer and strategist, but upon his inheritance he left the Army to take up a career in merchant banking. Guy was a Liberal with a commitment to the 'public services' and a businessman professing no feeling for money for its own sake. In 1916 he sold Beningbrough to pay off the duty on his father's estate, and to live nearer London where he worked.
The Duke of Cambridge 1850 - 1904
Prince George, Duke of Cambridge only had a walk-on role in Beningbrough's story, but is still remembered today because of the impressive tree he planted to the rear of the house. The then Duke was the 79-year old grandson of George III and visited Beningbrough in 1898. The tree he planted is in an odd position in the middle of the path, and the story goes that the Duke was suffering from hay fever so did not wish to walk on the grass. It is now the fourth largest English variegated oak in the country.
Lady Chesterfield 1878 - 1957
Lord and Lady Chesterfield purchased Beningbrough for just £15,000 in 1916. The couple furnished Beningbrough lavishly with pieces from their former residence, Holme Lacey, and completely redecorated. Lord Chesterfield died in 1933 but Lady Chesterfield remained at Beningbrough until her death in 1957. She was a force to be reckoned with, especially where the young airmen billeted at Beningbrough during the war were concerned. Her main interest was in horses and she set up a stud farm at in the 1920s.The most distinguished foal was Sun Castle who won the St Leger in 1941.
The National Trust 1958 - present
Beningbrough came to The National Trust in June 1958, after the death of Lady Chesterfield. Early days were difficult as there was very little in the way of contents and no endowment to cover running costs. In 1976 however, the Trust began a major project to restore and redecorate the hall, re-creating the spirit of the house and emphasising the fine architectural qualities. Work on the garden and derelict outbuildings, such as the Victorian Laundry was also undertaken and in 1979, Beningbrough was reopened to the public.
The National Portrait Gallery 1979 - 2019
In 1979 after Beningbrough had been in the ownership of the National Trust for some time, a special partnership was formed with the National Portrait Gallery. The Gallery arranged to lend Beningbrough 120 important 18th-century paintings which greatly enhanced the Hall as a visitor attraction, especially since much of the furniture had been sold after Lady Chesterfield's death in 1957. In more recent years, the partnership helped to breathe new life into Beningbrough as a gallery for significant works of art in a changing annual display in the Visiting Portraits Gallery. Although pieces from the National Portrait Gallery will undoubtedly feature in Beningbrough's changing exhibitions in the future; the long term loans have returned to London. This will enable a different focus on the stories in the hall and pieces from other artists to visit Beningbrough and for the National collection to reach other parts of the country.
What will be the next chapter?
To continue it's reinvention for visitors today, 2020 will mark the start of a brand new chapter in Beningbrough's history. Along with long term designs for the garden by RHS Gold winning designer Andy Sturgeon, the hall will also see some changes. The hall is currently closed to allow a safe one way flow to visit the Saloon Galleries on the first floor. In the moment: the art of wellbeing features fourteen varied artworks over four rooms from the Arts Council Collection.