Inside Ormesby Hall
Ormesby Hall is the home of the Pennyman family. Pennyman’s have been at Ormesby since 1599, when James Pennyman bought Ormesby Manor, a single-story house, which was extended and modified over the next 150 years. This is now known as the old wing. The mansion was built around 1740 by the 3rd Baronet’s son and his wife. It was added to further by the 6th Baronet when he inherited in 1770. The two building were eventually joined together around 1870.
The family were loyal Royalists and in 1664 Sir James Pennyman was made 1st Baronet of Ormesby. This hereditary title ceased when the 7th baronet died in 1852 without an heir. The properties, including Ormesby Hall, were inherited by his aunt’s eldest grandson, James White Worsley who changed his name to Pennyman by royal licence.
The Hall has provided a comfortable home for many generations of the Pennyman family. The last being Lt. Col. Jim Pennyman, who died in 1961, and his wife Ruth, who continued to live here until her death in 1983. The interior has been left very much as she had it. Through the décor, furnishings and portraits the whole family and their stories can be discovered.
This room with its grand Palladian style was built for Dorothy Pennyman in the 1740s. It was added to c.1772 when Sir James, 6th Baronet, inherited. Over the fireplace is the Pennyman Coat of Arms denoting the Baronetcy dated 1663/4.
Wherever you stand in the hall, you will see a symmetrical view: Ionic columns at each end; the fireplace balanced by a projection opposite. The symmetry is emphasized by the magnificent ceiling and detailed cornice plasterwork.
In the late 18th century it was very simply furnished, but by the 19th century it had become an informal living room. During Ruth Pennyman’s time, it was used as a venue for concerts.
Used as the ‘Breakfasting Room’ in the late 18th century and then the ‘Ante-Room’ to the Dining Room until 1871, James Stovin Pennyman used this room as a study. He installed the padded door to reduce the amount of noise penetration from the household beyond.
Ruth Pennyman made this room into a cosy winter Sitting Room.
The panelling, cornice and carved overmantel are contemporary with the building of the house in the 1740s and are of the same high quality as the Entrance Hall. The scallop shells in the cornice and swags of flowers in the overmantel are particularly fine.
Originally Dorothy Pennyman’s Best Eating Parlour, this was remodelled by Sir James, the 6th Baronet, c.1772 to form a dining room in the then fashionable style of Robert Adam.
Look up to admire the delicacy of the ceiling plasterwork and the complexity of its design. The Bacchus masks emerging in tiny roundels from the plasterwork in the four corners of the ceiling reflect the convivial atmosphere which Sir James wanted to engender in his dining-room.
The functions of this original Dining Room and the connected Drawing Room were interchanged in the 1870s, when this became a comfortable Drawing Room to which the ladies would withdraw after dinner.
This room was completely refurbished by Sir James Pennyman c.1772, creating a splendid saloon on the central axis of the house. The plaster ceiling, a highlight, encompasses the whole of the original room in one complex design.
In 1871, James Stovin Pennyman had the functions of the Drawing room and Dining Room interchanged, also extending the new Dining Room to the south with a broad bay window overlooking the garden. The 19thC decoration of the cornice in the bay is reminiscent of a railway station platform canopy. (James Stovin Pennyman was a shareholder in several railway companies!)
The Gallery is one of the most unexpected delights of Ormesby, containing some of the finest carved work in the house, from both periods of 18th Century decoration in the house.
The finely carved columns at the head of the stairs date from the time of the 6th Baronet c.1772. The series of sumptuously carved doorcases shows further evidence of the skills of the provincial craftsmen employed by Dorothy Pennyman.
The large segmental pediments above the doors indicate the private status of the most important guest bedroom on the north side and the principal family bedroom on the south side. A pair of “jib doors”, one on either side of the gallery, give direct access to the dressing rooms belonging to these main bedrooms. The carpet was laid in 1998, woven for Ormesby Hall to a pattern shown in photographs of the house in an article in “Country Life” in 1959.
The walls are adorned with family portraits, dating back to Sir Thomas Pennyman, 2nd Baronet (1642-1708).
Originally a music room in the 18th Century, it was equipped with musical instruments such as a harpsichor. Later it was used as a gathering space for guests and family to assemble before going downstairs to dine.
The magnificent door case has a broken pediment emphasising the “public” nature of this room.
Treasures in here include two miniature portraits of Sir William Henry Pennyman, 7th Baronet. Painted on ivory, set in gold frames, engraved, dated 1764.
Known as the ‘best Guest Bedroom’, this room stands in the centre of the north front over the Entrance Hall, with views showing the original extent of the estate which reached as far as the River Tees. The room is grandly decorated and furnished for the comfort of the most honoured guests.
The four-poster bed (1837-1901), one of a pair of Regency mahogany beds in the house, is carved with elegant acanthus leaf capitals and dressed with dark, heavily patterned Edwardian hangings.
This has always been the main Family Bedroom and is south facing with views over the garden. It is a very warm, homely room, left as Ruth Pennyman used it until her death in 1983.
The laundry basket, a piece of Boosbeck furniture, was made at the factory set up by Colonel Pennyman in the 1930s to provide employment for local out of work miners.