Meet the Pennyman family

Ormesby Hall from the Garden

There has been many James Pennyman’s residing at Ormesby Hall over the centuries, including characters of repute and scandal. The hall started as a stone farmhouse in 1600 and has been developed into the warm family home it is today, until it came to the care of the National Trust in 1961.

‘Wicked’ Sir James

Sir James, 6th Baronet inherited the hall from his uncle Sir Warton Pennyman, 5th Baronet and his rise and fall in the 18th century is one of our well known tales. ‘Wicked’ Sir James was well established in Beverley society when he inherited the hall and was carving out a political career as MP to Beverly, which he held for over twenty years. However as MP James was expected to entertain and make financial contributions, but he found himself in arrears with his payments, as well as increasing debt caused by his love for horse racing. Despite frittering away the family fortune resulting in selling land, the halls contents and demolishing their other home; Thornton Hall. James left a great legacy at Ormesby in the shape of the stables where he bred his race horses, he also refurbished the halls interior and invested in the parkland. Although the 6th Baronet is forever known as 'wicked' Sir James for spending the family fortune and more, his additions to Ormesby are still present today. [james & stables]

A view of the hall from the garden
Ormesby Hall from the Garden

The Last Mr Pennyman of Ormesby Hall

James, fondly known in the family as Jim studied at Eton and Cambridge, but chose a commission in the Kings 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. He was severely wounded in 1914 but thankfully recovered. Then in 1920 he retired from the army as a Major due to poor health, later enrolling in agricultural college at Cambridge and settling on a farm in Stainton with his wife Mary. His happiness was not to last for tragedy struck twice in 1924. Firstly his wife Mary died in childbirth, with his father passing just months later. Jims first couple of years as master of Ormesby Hall were unhappy ones, but everything changed when Ruth Knight came to stay. Jim and Ruth were married in 1926 and lived together at Ormesby, where Jim became a hands on farmer and enjoyed managing the Ormesby estate. They were also involved in the local community, where Jim served as Chairman of the Cleveland Conservative, Deputy Lieutenant of Yorkshire and magistrate on the north eastern circuit. In the 1930s Jim and Ruth helped unemployed miners in Cleveland by setting up a co-operative market garden and livestock scheme, followed by Boosbeck Industries. The booskbeck venture trained men in carpentry and they sold their furniture, but this ended when the mines reopened in 1937. 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 work and responsibilities alongside Ruth whose love of the arts transformed Ormesby into a home of theatrical performances and workshops.     

Discover a family home
Ormesby Hall Drawing Room

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

[jim and ruth images]