Gawthorpe Hall


Heritage Technology was commissioned by the Harewood Estate in 2008 to produce a reconstruction of Gawthorpe Hall - the manor house, demolished in 1773, that preceded the current day Harewood House. The reconstruction would form the basis of a fly-through movie that would be housed on a touchscreen system as part of the 2008 Harewood Estate 'Work and Play' exhibition.

Evidence detailing the Hall's fabric, layout and position within the landscape was scarce, comprising mainly of two early 18th century sketches and the results of recent geophysical investigation, so an initial period of analysis to extrapolate dimensions and geometry was required before reconstruction could begin. A wireframe model was then produced of both house and landscape, followed by detail and texturing on the basis of comparative research into houses of similar date and style. The model was delivered in early August 2008.

Historical Background

Located in the grounds of Harewood House, to the north of Leeds, Gawthorpe Hall was first mentioned in records dating from 1260 as a manor house built by the Gascoigne family. By 1614 the Hall had been acquired by the 1st Earl of Strafford, Thomas Wentworth, and several modifications and additions were made to its fabric between this date and the next sale, to Sir John Cutler, in 1656. The Hall again changed hands in 1738 to Henry Lascelles, a wealthy trader with business interests in the West Indies, and was then passed through inheritance in 1753 to its final owner, Edwin Lascelles. By 1759 Lascelles had commissioned the current Harewood House, which stands upon the higher ground behind Gawthorpe Hall. Harewood House took 12 years to build, and upon its completion in 1771 the Lascelles family took up residence there. Gawthorpe Hall was eventually demolished in 1773.

Gawthorpe Hall was the subject of two sketches produced by William van der Hagen in 1722 and 1727. The 1722 example presents the Hall from the north, while the 1727 example is drawn from the south, giving a good overall idea of the fabric and structure for both main façades.


Due to the lack of sources detailing Gawthorpe Hall's structure, fabric and layout, our approach was to create as accurate a model as possible based on the limited primary evidence and via comparative study of present-day examples of similar date and style. Although a rough dimensional plan was established by parchmark analysis and geophysical survey (by Bradford University in 1999 and the University of York in 2007), the finer details of the Hall's layout were unclear.

Worse still, the two early 18th century sketches by van der Hagen were conflicting, depicting deviations in structual geometry that were either the result of inaccuracy, artistic license or (less likely) actual changes in the Hall's fabric. Since the two geometric versions were incompatible a compromise was established to complete the structural wireframe model and enable the texturing and detail phase to progress.



Gawthorpe Hall from the South (1727). Original sketch by William van der Hagen.
Gawthorpe Hall from the north (1722). Original sketch by William van der Hagen.
Gawthorpe Hall: reconstruction of hall and gardens
Gawthorpe Hall: reconstruction of hall and gardens
Gawthorpe Hall: reconstruction of hall and gardens