Opening of St. Ives Visitor’s centre and Herb Garden 6/10/12
by Michael C.W. Ferrand
Opening of St. Ives Visitor’s centre and Herb Garden 6/10/12
I would like to thank the “Friends of St. Ives” for inviting me to open this magnificent visitor’s centre and nascent herb garden. I am deeply honoured and touched to be given this task, as, in my opinion, the Ferrand family left St. Ives and the area in rather inglorious circumstances. More later, – however, with more than 80 years of hindsight the decision to sell up and leave was absolutely the right one. How happy, St. Ives’ most famous resident, WBF, would have been to know that his beloved estate can now be enjoyed by the whole community. WBF was a great sportsman and he certainly would have derived much pleasure from knowing that golf, archery, equine sports and, no doubt, many others could be enjoyed on his doorstep. As an M.P., WBF was a man ahead of his times, and he would have appreciated that in today’s world, the countryside must be respected and shared by all. I am the great, great grandson of the last Ferrand resident of St. Ives. This is the 4th time I have visited the estate, and I find the grounds magical, full of atmosphere and I am falling in love with the place as have many of my ancestors before me.
The original St. Ives was, of course, a house in the valley and this house was called Harden Grange. At the end of the 18th century, Benjamin Ferrand, desirous of a rather grander residence, and appreciating the peace and calm of Harden, decided to swap the names and build and develop on this site. Benjamin died a bachelor in his 70s, and left an extensive and precise will, which determined the owners of the estate for the next 100 years. His nephew Edward and his wife Frances lived at St. Ives, which was a large house near Bingley Grammar School, for over 30 years, and they gradually made improvements to the estate. When Edward died in 1837, the estate was inherited by his sister, Sarah, who was married to Currer Fothergill Busfeild, and who had lived in nearby Cottingley Bridge in relative poverty. Such were their circumstances that their eldest son, William, was brought up by his uncle Walker Ferrand who lived at Harden Grange. When Sarah inherited the estate, having changed her name from Busfeild to Ferrand, she embarked on a spending spree. Sarah bought much expensive furniture and installed the stained glass windows, which are now installed in the south part of the mansion. Sarah entertained liberally and there are accounts of guests passing a few felicitous weeks at St. Ives in the 1840s.
Upon Sarah’s death in 1854, the estate was inherited by her son, William. William’s relationship with his mother was, at best, turbulent and, we believe, one of his first acts was to destroy the portrait of his mother painted by the famous Bradford artist, Robert Simpson R.A. William not only inherited the St. Ives estates but also Harden Grange which he inherited from his uncle Walker Ferrand. By this stage, William had married his second wife, Fanny, daughter of Lord Blantyre. William was comfortably installed in Harden and now had the money to create a true mansion worthy of a gentleman M.P. He therefore demolished the old St. Ives in the valley and changed the name of this house, Harden Grange, to St Ives and continued to live here whilst embarking on lavish alterations and extensions. We believe that it was William and Fanny who built the original herb garden, greenhouses and the various walks that surround the mansion and the estate. He and his family evidently loved the estate and we believe that the mansion was often used for entertaining fellow M.P.s and local gentry. William was a large bearded gentleman with a loud voice, fiery temper and a sense of humour.
When William Busfeild Ferrand M.P. (he also had to change his name) died in 1889, the estate passed to his nephew also called William Ferrand. I know little of my great, great grandfather except that I believe that he was, like his father, who was chairman of the governors of Bingley Grammar School for 25 years, somewhat of an academic, specialising in the law. He held a senior position with Leeds Crown court at the end of the 19th century. Like many others, the estate suffered at the beginning of the 20th century and worse was to come with the outbreak of the Great War. The War wiped out a whole generation of young men, and by 1919 the world was a very different place. Not least of the problems was finding labourers for the estate, but most estates were losing money and because of losses during the War, high taxes and a general feeling that the end of the world was nigh, half the estate was sold in 1919. William was in his 80s when he died in 1926.
Up till the middle of the 19th century, all the Ferrands had been educated at Bingley Grammar School, which had been subsidised by the family in return for them choosing the vicar who was also the headmaster. His eldest son, William Harris Ferrand, had been educated at Eton and Christ Church Oxford, where he had met many of his friends. William Harris had lived in Harrogate for many years to be near his great friends and fellow bridge players, Lord Harwood, who was married to the princess Royal, and Bill Ingleby of Ripley Castle. He was steward of York Racecourse and lived for Field Sports. He was reputed to be one of the 3 best shots in Yorkshire. When his father died, William Harris was in his 50s, his life was very comfortable and why should he change everything to come and live in a cold, expensive house with all the incumbent responsibilities? For him, the only attraction was the grouse moor which, as an excuse, he said was being ruined by the increasing population of Airdale enjoying their walks on his land and scaring the grouse! He helped himself to all the best furniture and porcelaine, auctioned all the goods and chattels and sold the mansion and estate to Bingley Municipal council in 1929. My father, who was brought up by his grandfather, spoke little of St. Ives, probably because his grandfather, in his heart of hearts was a little shameful of having sold the family seat for hundreds of years. They rarely, if at all, returned to Bingley. One man’s loss is another’s gain, and how wonderful that thanks to my great grandfather’s egotism this magical estate can be enjoyed by all.
Since 1929, I know that the mansion and estate have known some ups and downs, but now they are definitely on the up. What a joy that the some seriously handicapped patients in the mansion can enjoy the grounds and, thanks to the “Friends”, the rest of the estate can give so much pleasure to so many. I am delighted that the visitor’s centre can inform all of the history of St. Ives. I am equally glad that the herb garden can transport visitors back in time to appreciate 19th century plants. I am sure that WBF, Fanny and their family are smiling at the resurrection of the estate thanks to the dedication and hard work of ALL the volunteers.
With these few thoughts, I am happy to declare the visitor’s centre and herb garden open!
Michael C.W. Ferrand
Stephen, David Ferrand, Kath, Peter, Pam, Deputy Lord Mayor and his wife, Michael Ferrand and Susan
William Harris Ferrand, Christopher Ferrand, Nanny, Geoffrey Ferrand
Amias Ferrand, Stafford Ferrand, Noel Hanbury, Dick Woodman, Geoffrey Ferrand (St Ives, August 1921)
Emily (Lily) Harris-Ferrand
Christopher Ferrand and Rosemary Ferrand-Baker-Cresswell (Wedding 1953, Embleton)
William Harris Ferrand
William Harris & Emily-Mary Ferrand
Michael, Christopher, Camilla, Hugh and Rosemary Ferrand (1971) Scotland