The area around Scampston Hall in North Yorkshire is full of big estates. Birdsall, owned by the Willoughby family, who derived their wealth from coal, comes with 13,000 acres.
Scampston, meanwhile, has 6,000. “We have never had an industrial fortune,” says Chris Legard, the owner. “No one has ever found coal, tin or gold. Somehow we have managed to survive and we’ve done pretty well considering.”
Legard, 56, is full of enthusiasm for how unflashy the local area is. “I was shooting in Hampshire last year, and everyone turned up in new Range Rovers. Up here, the older your Subaru is, the smarter you are.”
2020欧洲杯体育投注开户In 2011, Legard and his wife, Miranda, took over the house. “I knew that, at some point, this was going to fall on my shoulders,” he says, “but I paid it zero attention, to be honest. I was just busy with my life.”
2020欧洲杯体育投注开户Before that, the Legard family had enjoyed a “really nice, simple life” in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, with their two children, Ben, 25, and Phoebe, 20.
2020欧洲杯体育投注开户In 1997, Legard founded clothing mail-order company Joseph Turner, and began commuting over the Howardian Hills to Scampston, around 25 miles from York, to take over elements of the estate from his father, Sir Charles Legard, 15th baronet, now 81. And then in 2011, “we moved, and that was it. I arrived, and he left”. Now, Legard does the commute in reverse.
2020欧洲杯体育投注开户In the 1690s Legard’s ancestors, the St Quintins, bought Scampston with its 17th-century house, in a move aimed to make themselves “a bit grander and a bit smarter,” says Legard. He quickly points out that Scampston isn’t particularly grand at all, being more of a “gentleman’s residence than a stately home”.
Despite its petite size, the historical house has a sizeable art collection, including six paintings by Thomas Gainsborough, as well as works by Pompeo Batoni and Peter Lely; this was largely thanks to the 18th-century owner Sir William St Quintin, a friend of Gainsborough.
There’s a work of art outside, too. His son, also Sir William, commissioned Lancelot “Capability” Brown to design a landscape in the 1770s.
The St Quintins lived at Scampston until 1935, when Mary L’Estrange Malone, daughter of Marjory St Quintin, married Sir Thomas Legard, 14th baronet. Born in 1911, she was very much of the old world, recalls Legard of his father’s mother. “She used to sit at a beautiful desk in the drawing room, just looking out of the window and reading obituaries. The butler would appear when the bell was rung – she never had to lift a finger in her life, and had no interests as a result.”
She was very different from Legard’s mother’s mother, however, the daughter of “a self-made property man from Scarborough, the middle-class girl in the village, whose parents had a car. She was a doer, with high energy – she travelled through Russia in her teens, and lived until she was 104.”
The result of many years of Edwardian living meant that Scampston was neglected. “There were buckets in most bedrooms, peeling wallpaper and an Aga running off coke.” When, in 1994, Legard’s father Sir Charles moved in with his second wife, Caroline, they promptly did up the house, rewiring, redecorating and cleaning the paintings, “selling a couple of Canalettos to fund it”.
2020欧洲杯体育投注开户And thank goodness, says Legard. “It would have been beyond Miranda and I as a project. We haven’t moved a painting or even a lamp.” Sir Charles and Lady Legard also restored what is today Scampston’s biggest attraction, the four-and-a-half-acre walled garden, with the help of Dutch designer Piet Oudolf.
In its heyday Scampston had a working walled garden. Today, it is open to the public seven months a year. It is now financially sustainable, says Legard, “though, if you asked me if I’d rather have X million pounds or a walled garden, I’d take the money”.
He enjoys having visitors to Scampston and has rather missed them over the lockdown. “I like sharing,” he says. “This house is an interesting one, though it’s tiny compared to [nearby] Castle Howard. People come here and think they’ll look around just in case, and leave bowled over because you get a phenomenally beautiful art collection compared to the size of the house.”
The walled garden is operating again as usual and is open to the public, but the house won’t open this year. “It’s quite cramped in there – we couldn’t do socially-distanced tours.” He hopes to open the café for takeaways from early July.
In time, Scampston will be Ben’s responsibility. Not for the moment, though, says his father. “He’s got his own career as a chartered surveyor and, hopefully, he’ll earn his own living.” Besides, he has better things to do. “He’s much more interested in young ladies and parties. He knows, like I knew, that one day this will land on his plate. I’ve said to him that when he’s ready, we’ll move out in a shot.”
Lately, during lockdown, the whole family have been back at home together. “I’ve been on the mower, Miranda has been in the garden eight hours a day, and we’ve been running the place in a slightly old-fashioned way,” Legard says.
“The children have really enjoyed it. We’ve played Monopoly, some cards and tennis – and taught them how to clean, as the household staff have been furloughed. It’s been fun doing everything ourselves.”