Ormesby Hall is an extraordinary survival of a country house, which formerly extended to the banks of the Tees cheek by jowl with an industrial town. It was designed in plain Palladian style by Colonel James Moyser, who had worked for the Winns at National Trust, Nostell Priory. It was owned by the Royalist Pennymans who can be traced back to the fifteenth century, the last of whom, Colonel James (1883–1961), bequeathed Ormesby to the National Trust. He and his second wife Ruth (1894–1983) brought projects such as the Cleveland Unemployed Miners Association, Boosbeck Industries, and the Cleveland Workcamps to Middlesbrough. Ruth also revived the nineteenth-century tradition of theatre at Ormesby, giving Joan Littlewood the use of the old wing for her experimental 'Theatre Workshop' in 1946/1947. It has few paintings other than portraits, the most interesting of which relate to Joshua Reynolds. One is a small full-length portrait from 1762 of the 6th Baronet, 'Wicked Sir James' Pennyman (1736–1808), in a black (once dark blue) suit trimmed with gold braid, leaning on a cane with a suitably roguish look. The other is a copy of a Reynolds in the Lady Lever Art Gallery depicting the architect James Paine’s wife Charlotte and their two daughters. The figure of the mother has been painted out of this copy as she was at one time in the Lady Lever’s original, in which she has since been uncovered.
National Trust, Ormesby Hall
Ladgate Lane, Ormesby, near Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire TS3 0SR England
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