The last Mr Pennyman

Ormesby Hall photograph of Jim Pennyman in his uniform

There have been many James Pennymans residing at Ormesby Hall over the centuries, each contributing to the estate in their own way. Find out more about the last of the Pennyman line, Mr James Beaumont Pennyman.

James, fondly known in the family as Jim studied at Eton and Cambridge, but chose a commission in the King's Own Scottish Borders Regiment in 1905 instead of pursuing a career in law. Jim and his regiment were amongst the first to fight in the First World War, in 1914 Jim was severely wounded but thankfully recovered and later retired from the army as a Major. In 1924 tragedy struck twice for Jim, first his wife Mary died in childbirth, with his father passing just months later. Following his losses Jim entered into an unhappy time of his life.

When Jim met Ruth

Jim and Ruth Pennyman on their wedding day in January 1926
Ormesby Hall wedding photo of Jim & Ruth Pennyman in their wedding attire in 1926

Jim married again in 1926 to Ruth Knight and they lived happily together at Ormesby Hall, where Jim managed the Ormesby estate. They were actively involved with the local community and in the 1930s Jim and Ruth helped unemployed miners learn carpentry skills through the venture ‘Boosbeck Industries’ and set up market gardens and livestock schemes, these are just a few examples of their generous nature. During the Second World War he commanded a battalion of the National Defence Corps as Lieutenant Colonel, giving him the title Colonel James Pennyman, as he is now known. Jim continued with his estate work and responsibilities alongside Ruth whose love of the arts transformed Ormesby into a home of theatrical performances and workshops.     

Jim and Ruth were the last Mr and Mrs Pennyman of Ormesby Hall and because they had no children the Pennyman line ended with them. Upon Jim’s death in 1961 he bequeathed Ormesby Hall, park and home farm to the duty of the care of the National Trust, with Ruth continuing to live at Ormesby until she passed away in 1983.