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A brief history of Escrick and Escrick Park

By Helen Pentith  //  Wed 4th March 2015
Skipwith Common

Every country estate has undergone countless evolutions in the past century alone. At the start of the 20th century, who would have predicted that the Escrick Park estate would be home to holiday lodges and rural offices? Escrick’s history stretches back far beyond the start of the 20th century –it even receives a mention in the Domesday Book of 1086. What follows is a complex tale of development, growth, and constant change…

Early history

Escrick’s history is thought to have begun in the Saxon period, but the settlement remained small throughout the medieval period. In the Domesday Book, Escrick was called ‘Ascri’, and it had only nine villagers, four freemen and eight ‘ploughlands’ (the amount of land that can be ploughed by eight oxen). A manor house was first recorded at Escrick in the 14th century, and it became known as Escrick Hall by the mid-16th century.

The Escrick Park Estate

The estate really started to take shape in the 17th century. Sir Thomas Knyvett became the first baron of Escrick after he played a key part in foiling the gunpowder plot of 1605. In 1668, Sir Henry Thompson (ancestor of the current owner Charles Forbes Adam) bought the estate. Thompson was Lord Mayor of York, MP for York, and a successful wine merchant who used his wealth to bring new life into the estate and the manor house itself.

Over the following couple of centuries, the house was rebuilt and extended almost continuously, with the efforts of Beilby Thompson in the mid-18th century having a particularly large impact on the estate and the village. He gradually bought areas of the village and moved it further from the manor house, to the north. The estate grew in size and stature until its peak of 22,000 acres in the late-19th century. At this point the estate was one of the largest in the North of England.

20th century

As all Downton Abbey viewers will know, the start of the 20th century was a testing time for estates, and many had to downsize significantly or risk becoming defunct. In the mid-20th century, Escrick Hall was divided into flats, and later leased out to Queen Margaret’s School, which continues to use the building to this day.


Current owner Charles Forbes Adam has continued the work of his predecessors and has transformed the estate so that it’s fit for the 21st century. Forbes Adam’s focus has been on diversification and conservation, creating holiday lodges and rural office spaces to bring in income from non-agricultural sources while retaining the charm and history of the estate. The estate’s renewed focus on conversation has helped support the upkeep of Skipwith Common, one of Yorkshire’s newest nature reserves.

While the role of the Escrick Park Estate has changed significantly over the past five hundred years, the future of Escrick and the estate look bright. To learn more about the estate and its property, navigate the links above.

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Country Land & Business Association Winners of The Bledisloe Gold Medal
RICS Award for Building Conservation David Bellamy Gold National Training Award
Members of the BH&HPA Visit Britain 5 star Award for exceptional park National Landlords Association
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