A Detailed History
History of the House and Family
At the time of the Domesday Survey, the land was recorded as being held, along with 93 other Yorkshire manors, by Robert de Brus. This great holding was gradually subdivided over the following centuries. When Peter de Brus died in 1268 Carlton passed to his sister Laderine and her husband John de Bellew. On the latter’s death in 1301 it was inherited by Nicholas Stapleton, son of Sir Miles Stapleton and Sibyl de Bellew.
The Stapletons originally came from Stapleton-on-Tees near Darlington. They were a prominent family in the Middle Ages. Sir Miles Stapleton fought in Scotland under Edward I; was Steward of the Household to Edward II and died at Bannockburn in 1314.
He had two sons, Nicholas who inherited Carlton and Sir Gilbert. His sons were among the most distinguished members of the family. Sir Miles, the eldest, was one of the original 24 Knights of the Garter, a friend of the Black Prince and an expert tilter. Sir Brian, the younger son, was Warden of Calais and also a Knight of the Garter. He acquired the family crest, a Saracen’s head, by killing an infidel at a tournament in the presence of the Kings of Scotland, England and France. From him Carlton passed to his grandson, Brian, and he was the first of the family to live there.
In about 1476 Brian Stapleton of Carlton married Joan, the niece and co-heiress of the second and last Viscount Beaumont. The Beaumonts were descended from the princely Frankish House of Brienne, which had produced the last Christian King of Jerusalem. (John I, b. 1148). This made the Stapletons heirs to the barony of Beaumont - a barony in fee, which could pass through the female line and be held by women. The last English titles in fee were created at the coronation of Richard II in 1377 and later English titles are entailed on male heirs only. The title was not, however, re-claimed for over 300 years.
Although there is known to have been a house on the site from at least the 14th century, nothing visible remains, nor are there any documentary records of it. There is no evidence for instance, that there was a private chapel in the medieval house at Carlton. However, the village church was a manorial chantry chapel associated with the Stapleton family.
During the late 17th century, Carlton Hall, as it was known then, had a chaplain called Thomas Thwing, who was a cousin of the Stapletons. Interestingly, Thwing along with Sir Miles was implicated in a plot devised by a couple of disgruntled servants, who sought to punish their employer, Sir Thomas Gascoigne. The servants were dismissed because of dishonesty and so spoke out of a plot to kill the King, involving Sir Thomas and the others. At the beginning, the plot made no mention of Thwing, but he was soon implicated in its vicious web. Sir Thomas, Sir Miles, Thwing and others were all arrested. In the end, they were all acquitted apart from Thwing. He was hanged, drawn and quartered on 23rd October 1680 at Knavesmire just outside York. He was the last Catholic priest to be martyred in England.
At the time of James II’s flight from the throne in 1688 there was a further wave of anti-Catholic feeling and on 16th December a mob armed with guns and pitchforks broke into the house and carried off Sir Miles and some of his household as far as Ferry Bridge, where they were released without being harmed.
Miles married twice but had no sons. On his death in 1705 the baronetcy became extinct and Carlton was left to his sister’s son, Nicholas Errington of Pontiland, Northumberland, who took the name of Stapleton. His grandson, Thomas Stapleton, who succeeded in 1750 improved the estate and altered the house. He landscaped the park to a plan by Thomas White in 1765 and added the long East Wing, designed by Thomas Atkinson of York, to contain a new Neo-classical chapel and extensive stables, in 1777. Barred by his religion from entering politics or the army, Thomas Stapleton devoted himself to the turf. He was a keen breeder of horses, and pictures of some of them survive with their names inscribed -Tuberose, Miss Skeggs, Beaufremont, Magog and Cannibal. He raced in partnership with Sir Thomas Gascoigne and together they won the first St. Leger with Hollondaise in 1778. The following year Thomas Stapleton won it on his own with Tommy. Some of their racing cups can be seen at Lotherton Hall, near Leeds, a former home of the Gascoignes.
In 1795 Thomas Stapleton laid claim to the dormant barony of Beaumont. The matter was referred to the Committee of Privileges and the claim was allowed in 1840 when his great-nephew, Miles Thomas Stapleton, was called to the Lords as 8th Lord Beaumont. He celebrated his ennoblement by gothicising the house in 1842 to his own design. He also had literary aspirations, writing some rather poor plays and poems, but his chief interest was politics. Like several of the old Catholic families he objected to the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in England in 1850 and in protest joined the Church of England.
On his death in 1854 his eldest son was only six years old. Henry, 9th Lord Beaumont, belonged to the generation of the great Catholic revival in England. He was in Oxford with the 3rd Marquess of Bute, whose conversion to Catholicism inspired Disraeli’s novel Lothair, and David Hunter-Blair who also became a Catholic, a Benedictine monk and eventually Abbot of Fort Augustus. Soon after coming of age he began the megalomaniac transformation of Carlton which occupied him for the rest of his life in between military adventures in distant lands. His extravagance led to the sale of the greater part of the estate. In 1888 he married Violet Wootton Isaacson, but there were no children from this marriage and on his early death from pneumonia in 1892, Carlton passed to his brother Miles, a regular soldier then commanding the 20th Hussars, having first joined the Coldstream Guards.
In 1893 Miles married Ethel, daughter and heiress of Sir Charles Henry Tempest of Broughton Hall, Skipton, and Heaton in Lancashire. She brought to Carlton many of the most interesting pictures and her fortune saved the house and remaining estate.
The 10th Lord Beaumont was tragically killed in a shooting accident, only three years after inheriting. He was succeeded by his eldest daughter, Mona, who was then only a year old. She married in 1914, the 3rd Lord Howard of Glossop, great-grandson of the 13th Duke of Norfolk who until his death in 1972 was heir presumptive to the dukedom. They had eight children, the eight Ms: Miles, Michael, Marigold, Martin, Miriam, Miranda, Mirable and Mark.
Lady Beaumont owned Carlton for 76 years, a period which saw two world wars and great social changes. In the Second World War the house was used as an auxiliary military hospital but suffered little damage and was carefully restored to its original condition afterwards, at a time when many other large Victorian houses were being demolished.
Her eldest son, Miles Francis Stapleton Fitzalan Howard, inherited both the Beaumont and Howard of Glossop baronies and in 1975 succeeded his cousin as 17th Duke of Norfolk and Earl Marshall of England.
Major General Miles Francis Stapleton Fitzalan Howard (1915-2002) was married to Anne Mary Constable - Maxwell, great grand-daughter of the 10th Baron Herries. They had two sons and three daughters - Edward William (18th Duke of Norfolk), Lord Gerald Fitzalan Howard, Lady Tessa (Countess Balfour), Lady Carina Frost and Lady Marsha George. Lord Gerald Fitzalan Howard, his wife Emma and their children, Arthur, Florence and Grace, now live at Carlton Towers.