BUILDING – Skelton Castle, Wharton Family

Accreditation Cleveland Standard 29/01/1933.

By HUGH W. COOK Redcar

   Colonel W. H. A. Wharton whose beautiful Cleveland seat is Skelton Castle may be very aptly defined as a “true type” of the English country gentleman, a good sportsman and a friend to the needy.
The “squire,” as he is affectionately known, is the owner of a large estate in Cleveland, and another at Gilling in Richmondshire.
Born in November 1839 the squire is descended from the Lords Wharton and is a living tribute to the chase and an open air life, because he carries himself as erect and is as sprightly as he was 25 years ago.

A Remarkable Pedigree

   Soon after the Norman Conquest the De Brus family held the castle and were lords of Skelton, and passing from this family the Fauconbergs became the owners, and it then came to the Conyers, who held it until the reign of Queen Mary, when it descended by marriage to Anthony Kemp, who sold his share to Robert Trotter.
Marriage then brought Skelton to the Halls, who later took the name of Wharton. The late Mr. J. T. Wharton son of the vicar of Gilling in 1844 succeeded his uncle, and he in turn, was succeeded by his so, the present Colonel W. H. A. Wharton.

Skelton Castle 800 Years Ago

   Skelton Castle was built in 1140 by De Brus and according to records it was a beautiful specimen of antiquity and of picturesque loveliness.
About 1290 it is described as Scheltone Castrum, of Fayre Halles and large towers.
By lapse of ages the castle fell into disrepair and was demolished in 1788, when the present edifice was erected. Most of the trace of the original castle may have departed, but tradition still lingers for was not the old original castle the birthplace of an illustrious line of nobles and the ancient cradle and nurseries of warriors, kings and princes.
Colonel Wharton has always been much keener on the chase than the turf, though for a long time he has been a steward of the Redcar meeting, and often attends other meetings.
Commencing his hunting education when very young he hunted with the Cleveland, and passing on to the University he attended Midland meets later hunting a good deal with the South Durham and Hurworth packs.
For years he acted as M.F.H. to the Cleveland, and passing on to the University, he attended the Midland meets, later hunting a good deal with the South Durham and Hurworth packs.

   Many years ago the late Sir Hugh Bell passed a note to the “Cleveland Master” at a Unionist meeting stating “They are most anxious that W.H.A.W should stand as M.P. for Cleveland.”
A scribbled note came back, “W.H.A.W, is much more congenially occupied as M.F.H of Cleveland.”

A Silver Model of the “Squire”

   Squire Wharton completed 25 years as M.F.H. to the Cleveland Hunt, and the supporters of the hunt presented him with a silver model of himself on horseback. There were over a thousand subscribers to this gift which speaks volumes.
Over 50 years ago Colonel Wharton joined the Volunteers and succeeded Colonel Godman as the Officer Commanding the 4th Battalion York’s Regiment Territorials Green Howards.
Retiring in 1913, he rejoined in 1914, when the war broke out, doing more splendid work and received the O.B.E. for his war services.
In 1920 he became A.D.C. to the King.

A Generous Charity Supporter

   Colonel Wharton has never lost an opportunity of associating in the building of churches and other institutions for the betterment of the mortal and social conditions.
Colonel Wharton has no son and only one daughter – Miss W. Wharton who, like her worthy “pater” takes a great interest in all local events and is a keen worker for the Skelton Detachment of the British Red Cross Society.
The Squire was always one of the most popular masters of hounds and in his day one of the best amateur huntsmen in England. It was quite an inspiration to hear his voice echoing in the woodland or from hillside to hillside around “beautiful Cleveland.”
Over the stream of the vale, over the bog, ravine, hillside or heathery heights the “Squire of Skelton,” was just as capable a huntsman and was just as happy.
“In Cleveland, “says the Squire, “we have a body of the most sporting farmers in the world, and I can trust them to back me up, and personally I love Cleveland from end to end.” One old Hunting worthy state to me.
“Throughout the long mastership of Colonel Wharton with the Cleveland Hunt he has always maintained discipline without any linguistic hysterics or violent adjectives,” I believe it.
Squire Wharton and Miss Wharton spend most of their time in residence at the beautiful Skelton Castle, and here they have the confidence and respect of everyone, which again speaks volumes.



dean May 27, 2010 Castles & Monuments