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Scarborough Remembers
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The History of Raven Hall

Raven Hall is built on the summit of "Peak" 600 feet above sea level, where the Romans built a signal station in 407 AD, the reign of Justinian, for the protection of the coast against Saxon invaders. Workmen digging the foundations for the Hall in 1774 for a Captain Child of London found a stone, which appears to have been the foundation stone of the fort. It is now in Whitby Museum.

 

In later years invading Danes hoisted their standard with a Raven motif and demolished the fortress. The local dialect still has strong links with Danish tongue.

 

The mansion, it is rumoured, was really built as a retreat for George 111 during his mad periods. In 1826 it was in the possession of the Willis family, who had become wealthy treating the mad King. Some of the family fortune was employed in making additions to the Hall and laying out the grounds and terraces. Much of the stone came from old cottages at the alum works, which had been in use since 1615. In the gardens, iron trees were created with tin leaves, which jingled in the breeze. The inside of the Willis’s house had many mementoes of the King, including a framed order of the Privy Council giving Dr Willis permission to flog the King when necessary to aid treatment of his illness.

 

It is said that when all the alterations were completed a "rearin" or completion supper was held which became the talk of the countryside.


Eventually the family fortune was gambled away and the Raven Hall was lost on a wager on two lice running across a saucer! The new owner of the Hall was a Mr Hammond of London whose family spent their summers at the Hall. The two stone dogs on the present garden walls are in the likeness of the family pets. Mr Hammond died in 1895 and the estate was sold, the Hall alone fetching £10,000.It was decided to lay out the estate as a new seaside resort, and to this end roads were laid, drainage installed, plots of land sold, and a few houses built. But the development company became bankrupt in 1913.


The Hall, by now converted into a hotel, passed to a hotel group, but was sold again in the slump of the 1920s.


The hotel is once again privately owned and managed by Epworth Hotels since October 2004. The grounds, always a special attraction of the Hall have won many awards, and have been used by many film companies, including a television programme on Count Dracula, who it is rumoured, stayed here in the dark and murky past, although he found nearby Whitby Abbey graveyard more to his liking!

For further information, please contact the Scarborough Tourism Bureau on 01723 383636.

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