Hyde Hall

Hyde Hall

Hyde Hall is a restored neoclassical nineteenth century house in New York and a museum of its own past.

Built by an Englishman named George Clarke (1768-1835), Hyde Hall went on to become the home of several generations of the Clarke family before becoming state property. Today, this historic home is a good place to discover the culture of rural Anglo-Americans during the early years of the Republic.


Underlying the town at some depth is the London Clay stratum, with a thick layer of Boulder clay laid down during the ice ages, including the Anglian. The soil on top of this is a loam, with erratics of Hertfordshire puddingstone conglomerate found around the town.

Prior to the Norman conquest, most of the area was owned by the Saxon Angmar the Staller. [ citation needed ]

The Manor of "Sabrixteworde" (one of the many spellings previously associated with the town) was recorded in the Domesday Book. After the Battle of Hastings it was granted to Geoffrey de Mandeville I by William the Conqueror. Local notables have included John Leventhorpe, an executor of both King Henry IV and King Henry Vs' wills and Anne Boleyn, who was given the Pishiobury/Pishobury estate, located to the south of the town.

The mansion and surrounding land was acquired by Sir Walter Lawrence, the master builder, in the 1920s. In 1934, he instituted the Walter Lawrence Trophy for the fastest century in county cricket. [2] He built a cricket ground and pavilion in the grounds where the great and the good of the cricket world came to play against Sir Walter's home team, which often included his three sons: Jim, Guy and Pat. Sir Walter also had two daughters: Molly and Gipsy. Great Hyde Hall was sold in 1945 and became a school. It is a Grade II* listed building and has now been divided into housing. [3]

Much of the town centre is a conservation area many of the buildings date from the Tudor, Stuart and Georgian periods.

Great St Mary's Church is a Grade I listed building "of special interest as a substantially unaltered large medieval parish church, typical of the Hertfordshire type, and with an outstanding collection of memorials of the highest artistic quality". [4] It was originally built in the 13th century (although a church on the site existed in Saxon times) and includes a Tudor tower containing a clock bell (1664) and eight ringing bells, the oldest of which dates from 1749. [5] It is thought to be called 'Great' St Mary's to distinguish it from St Mary's, Gilston. Ralph Jocelyn of Hyde Hall, who was Lord Mayor of London in 1464 and in 1476, is buried here images of many of his family and other locals have been engraved on brass, and hence the church is popular for enthusiasts of brass rubbing. The ghost of Sir John Jocelyn, known for his love of horses, is reputed to appear riding a white horse on the old carriage drive every 1 November. [6]

The town's prosperity came from the maltings, some of which now house antiques centres. Among the maltsters were George Fawbert and John Barnard in 1839 they set up the Fawbert and Barnard charity to fund local children and their education, funding a local infant school that still exists today.

By the time of the Norman conquest, or soon after, Sawbridgeworth's rich farming land was fully developed for cultivation as was possible with the means available at the time: it was the richest village community in the county. It is, then, hardly surprising that many important medieval families had estates here. The land was divided among them, into a number of manors or distinct estates the Lord of each manor had rights not only over this land but also over the people who farmed it. The number of manors increased during the Middle Ages, by a process of subinfeudation, that is the granting out of a part of an existing manor to a new owner so that the new manor was created. Many manors sprang from the original Domesday Book holding of the de Mandeville family. The first came to be called Sayesbury manor, from the de Say family who inherited it from the de Mandeville's in 1189. The many important people who held these manors built themselves houses with hunting parks around them when they died their tombs enriched the parish church, so that today St Mary's has one of the finest collections of church monuments in the country.

During the Second World War RAF Sawbridgeworth, which is not in the civil parish, operated Supermarine Spitfires, Westland Lysanders, North American Mustangs and de Havilland Mosquito, among other types - for a complete history of the airfield, see the book Where the Lysanders were . , by Paul Doyle, published in 1995 by Forward Airfield Research Publishing. [7] The Walter Lawrence & Son Ltd joinery works, located between the canal and the railway, built over 1,000 [ citation needed ] Mosquito fuselage shells and wing skins for de Havilland during the Second World War. [8] Subsequently, it reverted to making joinery and doors for the building trade. The joinery works was closed in about 1982 and houses were built on the site.

Sawbridgeworth was the birthplace of composer Bernard Rose (1916–1996) and the actor Stephen Greif (1944–).

Sawbridgeworth is in the parliamentary constituency of Hertford and Stortford. Since the formation of the constituency in 1983, it has elected Conservative Members of Parliament. The current MP is Julie Marson, who was elected in 2019.

Sawbridgeworth is governed by Hertfordshire County Council, [9] as well as being part of East Hertfordshire District Council. Hertfordshire has a two-tier system of administration, with a county council and district councils. The town council currently has twelve councillors, covering both Sawbridgeworth and Spellbrook.

The town has its own on-call fire station, in Station Road. It is part of Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service. [10]

Sawbridgeworth has been twinned with Bry-sur-Marne in France since 1973.

The village of Lower Sheering is across the county boundary in to Essex, and adjoins Sawbridgeworth along its eastern edge, east of the railway station and of the River Stort. It shares similar postal code but is in the Epping Forest District of Essex.

Sawbridgeworth has a secondary school, the Leventhorpe Academy, which also offers a public swimming pool and leisure centre. There is also one primary school, one junior school and one infant school in Sawbridgeworth.

Sawbridgeworth Cricket Club field five senior sides on a Saturday and seven colts sides, from ages nine to fifteen. The 1st XI plays in the Home Counties Premier Cricket League, and the other league sides play in the Hertfordshire Cricket League. The main ground is Town Fields, situated behind Bell Street. The second ground is at Leventhorpe Academy.

Sawbridgeworth has tennis and bowls clubs.

Sawbridgeworth is home to 309 Squadron of the Air Training Corps. [11]

The A1184 runs through the town. The River Stort Navigation flows north/south along the eastern edge of the town, parallel to the trainline, and past the Maltings.


Historic Hyde Hall opens for the summer

In the first two weeks of the season, guests can view a special flash exhibit where some of Hyde Hall's clothing collections will be making a rare appearance. Among the items that will be on display are an 1830s gown, a butler's outfit, a hunting coat, and a livery uniform.

COOPERSTOWN, NY - After a winter of uncertainty and a major restoration project, historic Hyde Hall in Cooperstown reopened for the summer Saturday.

And have they got a busy season planned for you.

In the first two weeks of the season, guests can view a special flash exhibit where some of Hyde Hall's clothing collections will be making a rare appearance. Among the items that will be on display are an 1830s gown, a butler's outfit, a hunting coat, and a livery uniform.

Due to covid-19, tours are limited so reservations are required, and everyone must wear a mask.

In recognition of all the hard work and sacrifices made by local medical personnel and volunteers, Hyde Hall is offering free admission to Bassett network employees and volunteers throughout the month of June.

"You know last year was a challenge for everybody,&rdquo says Hyde Hall executive director Jonathan Maney.

&ldquoPeople were frightened about going out. They weren't sure what they could do or where they could go. We're all relieved that Hyde Hall is open, that our area is open, that restaurants and other businesses are beginning to look at crowds of people coming to our site and enjoy life again."

There are a number of low-risk events planned for the year, including a one-night-only ghost hunt with paranormal investigators.

To find out what's happening at Hyde Hall, or to purchase tickets for any of the events, just click here.


Hyde Hall - History

Hyde Hall is a stunning reminder of a bygone American era when families of English aristocracy established vast estates in the former colonies. The house itself may well be the finest example of neoclassic country mansions anywhere in America. Roger Kennedy of the Smithsonian writes that Hyde Hall is "a great house, architecturally, and a social document of the first importance." Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan has called Hyde Hall "one of the most remarkable buildings in America."

Today Hyde Hall is a house museum and regional cultural center offering visitors the unique opportunity to tour a true restoration in progress.

HYDE HALL'S HISTORY AND ARCHITECTURE

Hyde Hall was built for George Clarke, whose great-grandfather and namesake was a prominent figure in the government of New York for 42 years prior to the American Revolution, and was the home of Clarke and his descendants for 144 years from 1819 until 1963. As secretary and lieutenant governor in the British Crown's government for the province of New York in the early- to mid-1700s, the elder Clarke amassed an estate of 120,000 acres. That land, and Clarke's Jamaican sugar cane plantations, was the basis of the family fortune inherited by George Clarke which financed the construction of Hyde Hall.

George Clarke started Hyde Hall in 1817. He purchased the site, on a hillside terrace at the foot of Mount Wellington, for its commanding view down Otsego Lake (James Fenimore Cooper's Glimmerglass). He selected upstate New York's ablest architect, Philip Hooker of Albany, to draw up his designs. Hooker's credits include the facade of Hamilton College chapel, Albany Academy, Albany City Hall, and the original New York State Capitol building. Hooker himself was an Albany politician of long standing, a member of the "Albany Regency."

Hyde Hall was Hooker's grandest domestic creation, and it remains a rare survivor of his work. A Doric pile refined to the barest essentials, its limestone walls reach 190 feet by 90 feet. Hyde is a complex of four structures, some 50 rooms, enclosing an open, stone-paved court 24 feet by 54 feet. This quadrangular plan, a Private Wing of Soane-like spatial qualities, and a Public Wing whose two neo-Palladian rooms, 36 feet by 24 feet, soar to 18 foot ceilings, set Hyde apart from other American houses. Hyde was a showplace, built to impress. To this day, a visit is a rare and rewarding experience.

George Clarke died in 1835 (a year before his friend Hooker), and construction ceased at Hyde Hall. Clarke left his mansion and a share of his lands and fortune to his son George Clarke, Jr., a dashing figure in his day, an artist, musician and fashionable gambler. He was also a landlord and hops speculator, and when the hops market collapsed late in the 19th century, George Clarke Jr. lost title to the mansion in a million-dollar personal bankruptcy that was reportedly the largest in the nation to that point.

Photo: Otsego Lake through the door/window of the Billiards Room. The balcony and wrought iron railing are above the columns of the Great House. Phil Harris.

Only through a consequence of the marriage of Clarke Jr.'s son was the mansion kept in the family. The son, George Hyde Clarke, had married into the Averell Carter family of Cooperstown and Cleveland. When the sheriff auctioned the estate to make good Clarke Jr.'s debts, George Hyde Clarke, financed by his mother-in- law, bought back the mansion, nearly all of its contents, and 3,000 acres surrounding the house.

Hyde Hall continued as a family home for three more generations of Clarkes, until 1963. New York State acquired the building that year, quite by accident, when the State acquired 600 acres around Hyde Hall for development into Glimmerglass State Park.

Photo: Hyde Hall Main Staircase, circa 1930.

Time and almost impossible maintenance costs, made worse by an outbreak of dry rot while the house was closed during World War II, had taken their toll. New York had no plans, and no funds, for restoring the mansion, and the threat of demolition became very real.

Friends of Hyde Hall was incorporated in 1964 to save the house and to assist the state in maintaining it for the public's use and enjoyment. These purposes remain unchanged. In 1988 the Friends acquired a 30-year lease of the 15-acre Hyde Hall Historic Site, as well as full responsibility for its restoration and management.

Architects and historians view Hyde Hall as a singularly important building, both for its design and its place in history. It is, writes Roger G. Kennedy, director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, "a great house, architecturally, and a social document of the first importance." It is a reminder of and an unequaled monument to the landed class who governed the development of this nation. It is one of the nation's major private architectural undertakings in the years between the Revolution and the Civil War.

Photo: Hyde Hall restoration specialist Francis Milks at work on the ornamental ceiling of the Dining Room, July 1995.

In 1814 William Smith's History of New York to the Year 1732 highlighted the Clarkes' rare social position.

"The family is among the few that were high in office, who have retained their possessions through the convulsions of the Revolution."

This and the family's long residence at Hyde allowed the gathering of papers covering two and a half centuries of New York's history, from 1705 to 1963. This extraordinary archive has been given to the Friends by the Clarke heirs and is presently on loan at Cornell University.

Over the years, since the restoration of Hyde Hall began, several possible uses have been suggested for the building. The Friends are centering on purposes that will enable the house to provide both a glimpse into history and a gracious space for public gatherings, concerts, symposia, etc. Once restored, Hyde Hall will attract and serve historians, residents in the surrounding villages and towns, and the 300,000 tourists who visit Cooperstown and historic Leatherstocking country each year. In the meantime, visitors get the rare opportunity to tour a true restoration in progress. Indeed, since 1973, thousands of visitors have inspected the house on tours sponsored by the Friends of Hyde Hall.

Hyde Hall is a State Historic Site which is leased to and is being restored and operated by Friends of Hyde Hall, Inc. in cooperation with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Directions: From Cooperstown, go east on Main Street over the bridge and up East Lake Road (Rte. 31) about 8 miles, past Glimmerglass State Park. Turn left on Mill Road, and follow it for about 1/2 of a mile, where you will see our site marker. Turn left at the sign and enter Hyde Hall's drive.

From Rte. 20, go to East Springfield and turn at intersection (K.C.'s Corner and Country Cone), heading south on Rte. 31 for 3.8 miles. Turn right on Mill Road (Springfield Hill Road opposite on left).

Friends of Hyde Hall is a not for profit 501 (C) (3) organization formed in 1964 to assist New York State with the preservation and operation of this monumental site. In 1988 the Friends acquired a 30-year lease on Hyde Hall from New York State. The Friends alone now shoulder the financial and administrative responsibilities for the restoration and operation of the house and grounds.

Photo: "Tin Top," the original gatehouse for the estate, where your tour visit to Hyde Hall begins.

Friends of Hyde Hall come from diverse backgrounds and live throughout the United States and in several foreign countries. The majority, however, are local residents. Their common bond is an appreciation of Hyde Hall and the recognition of its crying need for preservation.

Since its formation, Friends of Hyde Hall has raised and invested over one million dollars in the preservation of the historic house, its rich artifact collections, and its accompanying archive of family papers and other documentary materials. The majority of these funds have come from concerned individuals who firmly believe in the organization's mission to restore Hyde Hall, and realize the ultimate public benefit that will come from the rejuvenation of this great house.

Hyde Hall is one of the "three or four great buildings in America of its time. " Brendan Gill, architectural critic 'The New Yorker' magazine, 1996

A visit to Hyde Hall is like a step back in time. Begin your tour with an introduction to Hyde Hall in our newly-remodeled visitor center located in the estate's carriage barn. Explore the house with its nearly 50 rooms and stunning architectural details. See firsthand our ongoing restoration work, and possibly talk with a skilled craftsman. Bring your picnic lunch to enjoy on the lawn as you take in the unspoiled view of Otsego Lake that inspired George Clarke to choose this site for his country house nearly two hundred years ago. You are invted to spend the day as you experience grandeur in the country.


Opportunities for visitors:

Scheduled ghostly tours run on Wednesday nights in July and August, and Fridays and Saturday in October. Custom tours can be arranged for groups of 10 or more (this may differ during COVID). Book online at HydeHall.org.

Guided historical and haunted tours are offered during normal operating season. Special events throughout the year.

Days/times of operation:

Late May through Halloween, open for tours every hour on the hour, 10:00am to 4:00pm

Costs:

$15 Adults
$12 Seniors, Military, and Youth (6-17 years old)
Children under 5 Free


Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Hyde Hall, built on the shores of Otsego Lake by George Clarke (1768-1835), was to be a showplace at the center of his agricultural empire that included vast tracts of land in New York State, England, and Jamaica. He commissioned Philip Hooker of Albany, whose credits included the original New York State Capitol, Albany City Hall, and the facade of Hamilton College's chapel, to draw up plans for his grand house.

Clarke created a country estate reminiscent of his childhood in England in the middle of New York State. Seasonal building campaigns took place until Clarke's death in 1835. Hyde Hall was possibly the largest domestic structure built in the United States between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Hyde Hall remained in the Clarke family until 1963, when the house and its acreage were acquired by New York State for the development of Glimmerglass State Park.

Visitors to Hyde Hall are welcome to explore its nearly 50 rooms, view ongoing restoration work, and picnic on the lawn and take in the unspoiled view of Otsego Lake.

Hours of Operation

  • Open for guided tours May 25 - October 31 beginning at 10:00 am. Last tour departs at 3:00 pm.

Fees & Rates

Most New York State Parks charge a vehicle use fee to enter the facility. Fees vary by location and season. A list of entry fees and other park use fees is available below. For fees not listed or to verify information, please contact the park directly.

The easy-to-use Empire Pass card is $80- and your key to all-season enjoyment with unlimited day-use entry at most facilities operated by State Parks and the State Dept. of Environmental Conservation including forests, beaches, trails and more. Purchase online or contact your favorite park for more information. Learn more about our Admission Programs including the Empire Pass.

  • Admission
  • $15 Adults


Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Hyde Hall, built on the shores of Otsego Lake by George Clarke (1768-1835), was to be a showplace at the center of his agricultural empire that included vast tracts of land in New York State, England, and Jamaica. He commissioned Philip Hooker of Albany, whose credits included the original New York State Capitol, Albany City Hall, and the facade of Hamilton College's chapel, to draw up plans for his grand house.

Clarke created a country estate reminiscent of his childhood in England in the middle of New York State. Seasonal building campaigns took place until Clarke's death in 1835. Hyde Hall was possibly the largest domestic structure built in the United States between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Hyde Hall remained in the Clarke family until 1963, when the house and its acreage were acquired by New York State for the development of Glimmerglass State Park.

Visitors to Hyde Hall are welcome to explore its nearly 50 rooms, view ongoing restoration work, and picnic on the lawn and take in the unspoiled view of Otsego Lake.

Hours of Operation

  • Open for guided tours May 25 - October 31 beginning at 10:00 am. Last tour departs at 3:00 pm.

Fees & Rates

Most New York State Parks charge a vehicle use fee to enter the facility. Fees vary by location and season. A list of entry fees and other park use fees is available below. For fees not listed or to verify information, please contact the park directly.

The easy-to-use Empire Pass card is $80- and your key to all-season enjoyment with unlimited day-use entry at most facilities operated by State Parks and the State Dept. of Environmental Conservation including forests, beaches, trails and more. Purchase online or contact your favorite park for more information. Learn more about our Admission Programs including the Empire Pass.

  • Admission
  • $15 Adults


Looking out over Glimmerglass with the Ghosts of Hyde Hall

I’d never seen anything like it before. A large, stalwart gatehouse, the color of whipped butter, stood stoically – like a sentry in uniform – at the entrance to Hyde Hall. It had been built in the same style as the very first toll houses dotting New York’s western turnpikes. In August’s early afternoon heat, the sun glinted brightly off a section of its roof, a tin-covered dome nicknamed “tin-top” for that very reason.

Long ago, the gatekeeper and his family would have lived here, in charge of the traffic’s flow. They would have noted the arrival of the rich and famous to the sprawling estate, as well as their exit, hours or even days later, through the main gate. The tour guide took note of me admiring the unique, two-winged structure built in the 1820’s, and rose gracefully from her seat to greet me. In a soft, lilting voice, she regaled me with some colorful, yet pertinent facts.

She explained that Tin-Top was the earliest surviving gatehouse in New York, moved from the main entrance of Glimmerglass State Park to its present location several years earlier. In addition to reclaiming its’ main function – greeting guests, it presently housed Hyde Hall’s ticket office, a bookstore, and large space for historic exhibits. It remained an important symbol of New York’s transportation history and no doubt would continue to do so.

“You’re in for a treat, once the tour starts!” she exclaimed. “Just wait and see. It’s a beautiful piece of history.” And five minutes later, when our tour group assembled and we began the short walk across Tin Top Bridge, her words rang true. The gasp was audible when we caught sight of Hyde Hall. It was just, well, so majestic. And the setting, romantic. There had to be a ghost or two somewhere!

We could see three distinctly different sections of the home, each built around the central courtyard, overlooking Otsego Lake. If you’re familiar with the five-book series Leatherstocking Tales, or the author James Fenimore Cooper, you’ll recognize Otsego as the Glimmerglass he often wrote about.

The Stone House was built with the family’s everyday life in mind. The next unit would become home to sizable servants’ quarters and second-floor bedrooms. That structure, though larger than the first, was much simpler in detail. The third, known as The Great House, was built in yet another style, more squared-off in design than the previous two.

George Clarke was a robust Englishman from an affluent family. He was named after his great-grandfather. The elder George was prominent in New York’s colonial government. He’d also amassed 120,000 acres along the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys, and a sizable fortune when he returned home to England. It was the land, the promise of a future that inspired young George to envision the loveliness of Hyde Hall. He was determined to come to America and settle down here.

Built between 1817 and 1834, Hyde Hall’s namesake was in honor of another property owned by his grandmother’s family in Cheshire England, bearing the same name. This newer home, a grand private residence, is still considered one of the most stunning reminders of by-gone eras, a time when influential English families set down roots and established vast estates and fortunes, both here in America and ‘across the pond.’

It wasn’t hard to fall under its’ spell. After all, we were wandering through one of the country’s oldest structures, in and out of 50 palatial rooms that held on tightly to a mind-boggling collection of furniture and artwork, china and other artifacts from the rich history of yesteryear.

The staircases were breath-taking. They spiraled up-up-up. We could not see to the top of them. The tour guide showed us where the family ate, where they slept, where the servants worked tirelessly, 24/7, in order to make the house run smoothly.

In one room, a life-sized painting of Jane Storrs Cooper Worthington greeted us. The masterpiece, on loan from the Cooper family, captures the likeness of this young woman standing on the rocks in Newport, Rhode Island. White-capped waves crash against the craggy shoreline behind her. It was obviously a place she loved to visit, judging from the peaceful expression on her face.

“Jenny,” as she was fondly referred to by family and friends, passed away two months after her wedding day. Her husband, John Worthington, was heartbroken. He commissioned the stunning portrait of his beloved bride two years later.

Time passed, as it tends to, and John remarried. His new wife was quite upset though, forced to see the likeness of his first love every morning, noon, and night. She was firm in her request that he remove the painting and put it out of her sight. Jenny landed in a dark closet, covered in sheets. Jealousy is a cruel beast. Especially if one of the subjects is dead.

That should have been the end of it, right? The start of a new chapter in life. But, once the painting was off the wall, hidden from the light of day, strange things began to happen. Pots and pans would fly across the kitchen, thrown by an unseen hand. Glassware would be tossed to the floor, where it shattered into a million pieces. Loud noises were heard in the night and other disruptions were reported during the day. Finally, when the likeness of Jenny was unwrapped and hung in its rightful place again, all paranormal occurrences ceased.

In 2013 the SYFY channel’s show, Ghost Hunters, investigated the estate and aired the immensely popular episode, October 30 th of that year. There are rumors of a widow’s curse, stories of a woman in white, a piano in the drawing room that’s heard playing a melody – even though no one’s there, and a mayday message via the radio, heard by the craftsman who’d worked alone in the home for ten years.

The home and grounds were silent while we were there. But, an overwhelming feeling that there might be some activity at different times was strong, almost palpable. Imagining the people who’d passed through these 50 rooms over the years – the love affairs, weddings and divorces, the births and deaths, laughter and tears – how could there not be some residual energy waiting to manifest itself?

Regardless, the architecture is stunning, the history of the family and home quite interesting. The tour guide was knowledgeable and willing to answer any questions we asked. Believe me, there were plenty. Hyde Hall is part of the Haunted History Trail of New York State, which features 65 attractions to date, covers 31 counties and over 400 miles of history, culture and the paranormal. If you have any interest, you need to get in touch with them! You’re in for a great time.

All photos by Theresa St. John

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About Theresa St. John

Theresa St. John is a travel writer and photographer based in Saratoga Springs, New York. Her work has appeared in many on-line and print magazines. International Living, Discover Saratoga, Saratoga Mama, Farming, Vacation Rental Travels Magazine and Travel Thru History, to name just a few. She is proud mom to two wonderful sons, enjoys a great daughter-in-law, has the unconditional love of six rescued grand-dogs, two Chinchillas and a bird.

Comments

So glad you enjoyed our historic site. I am one of the site interpreters who work at Hyde Hall and I feel so fortunate to be employed at such a wonderful place. It is a pleasure to show it off to our guests.

It truly is a wonderful spot, I wish I had had more time there. You are very lucky to be there showing the grounds and sharing the stories with others. Thank you for taking the time to read the article, I appreciate it!


Crystal Palace

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Crystal Palace, giant glass-and-iron exhibition hall in Hyde Park, London, that housed the Great Exhibition of 1851. The structure was taken down and rebuilt (1852–54) at Sydenham Hill (now in the borough of Bromley), at which site it survived until 1936.

In 1849 Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria and president of the Royal Society of Arts, conceived the idea of inviting international exhibitors to participate in an exposition. Plans were developed and the necessary funds speedily raised, with Victoria herself heading the list of subscribers. The exhibition opened in the Crystal Palace on May 1, 1851.

The Crystal Palace, designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, was a remarkable construction of prefabricated parts. It consisted of an intricate network of slender iron rods sustaining walls of clear glass. The main body of the building was 1,848 feet (563 metres) long and 408 feet (124 metres) wide the height of the central transept was 108 feet (33 metres). The construction occupied some 18 acres (7 hectares) on the ground, while its total floor area was about 990,000 square feet (92,000 square metres, or about 23 acres [9 hectares]). On the ground floor and galleries there were more than 8 miles (13 km) of display tables.

Some 14,000 exhibitors participated, nearly half of whom were non-British. France sent 1,760 exhibits and the United States 560. Among the American exhibits were false teeth, artificial legs, Colt’s repeating pistol, Goodyear india rubber goods, chewing tobacco, and McCormick’s reaper. Popular British exhibits included hydraulic presses, powerful steam engines, pumps, and automated cotton mules (spinning machines). More than six million visitors attended the exhibition, which was open to the public until October 11. The event showed a significant profit, and a closing ceremony was held on October 15. Thereafter the building was taken down, and it was rebuilt at Sydenham Hill in Upper Norwood, overlooking London from the south.

The Crystal Palace established an architectural standard for later international fairs and exhibitions that likewise were housed in glass conservatories, the immediate successors being the Cork Exhibition of 1852, the Dublin and New York City expositions of 1853, the Munich Exhibition of 1854, and the Paris Exposition of 1855.

For a number of years the Crystal Palace was the site of shows, exhibitions, concerts, football (soccer) matches, and other entertainments. On the night of November 30–December 1, 1936, it was virtually destroyed by fire the towers that survived were finally demolished in 1941 because they were deemed a conspicuous landmark for incoming German bombers.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn, Managing Editor, Reference Content.


Holmes House

Building History

Holmes House was built in 1836 as a boarding house for students at the Holmes Plymouth Academy. After the demise of the Academy, the building was a private residence for many years. Sometime after 1912, Gertrude Shaw, President Silver's secretary, lived in the building. When President Silver retired in 1946, he moved into Miss Shaw's home with his sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Spurr. Upon Mrs. Spurr's death, Dr. Silver married Miss Shaw, and they remained in the house. Dr. Silver passed away in 1949, and Mrs. Silver remained in the home until 1989, when, at 101 years old, she sold the building to Plymouth State College. It has housed many departments of the college, inlcuding the Women's Center, Alumni Office, Advancement, and more.


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