Just north of Richmond, near Gilling West, is the rather unusual sight of a large ornate stone doorway standing in the middle of a field. Not too many people know the story of Gillingwood Hall’s last remaining fragment, but it’s definitely a good one. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the hall was lived in by the Wharton family. In 1750 the last residents were a childless brother and sister. Folklore records that upon the death of her brother Anthony, Margaret discovered that she had been left out of the will. In response, she threw a huge party at Gillingwood Hall and the next day the place was a smoking ruin. (Parents take note.)
It appears the English landscape is littered with the remains of now vanished stately homes: some Richmond residents might know that the area of The Green was a tannery in medieval times, and later in Georgian times the site of magnificent Yorke Mansion, with the current grounds of Culloden tower being its formal gardens: the recent dry weather meant that the underground remains of the gardens were visible. Fewer Richmond residents might know that the area around Round How was an Arcadian pleasure garden, with Round How itself having a folly on the top, now almost entirely invisible except for a few loose stones in the undergrowth.
All these places and many more were researched and collected in a book by local artist Ed Kluz, called “The Lost House Revisited”, which collects photographs, plans and text about the buildings along with Ed’s distinctive paintings and scratchboards.
Ed grew up just outside Richmond in the lower reaches of Swaledale, attending Richmond school, where local artist and musician Christopher Moss was his art teacher (the pair have just launched a joint exhibition at the Lotte Inch gallery in York, which runs until the start of September). Ed then went on to the Winchester School of Art, and then settled in Brighton where he made a name for himself. However, he says it was always the long term plan to come back to the north, where he says the quality of life is much better, and studio space is considerably cheaper: for the same rent, Ed has a studio in central Richmond which is three times as big as his one in Brighton. It is also quite likely that his studio in Brighton didn’t have a view of a Norman castle and share a wall with a chapel.
For the time being, Ed spends his days at work in his studio, planning major exhibitions like the one held recently at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (“Sheer Folly”). In the evenings he has a bit of an eBay habit, buying up old prints and engravings of interesting buildings. A love of old buildings runs in the Kluz family: Ed’s sister Rosie works at nearby Kiplin Hall.
Ed hopes that with Richmond and the region’s cultural offerings being so strong, more people might choose to come back to areas they grew up in. With rents and property prices in most major cities becoming unaffordable to many, it may become an increasingly popular option.
Ed’s next big event is a talk at Chatsworth House with author Kate Hubbard, and after that a lecture in New York in November on lost country houses as part of the Hamilton Lecture series. His next exhibition is at the Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh which runs from the 3rd to the 27th of October.
In the meantime, Ed can be found working away in his studio, listening to music, and surrounded by his fascinating bits and pieces of treasure collected from a lifetime of curiosity.