Monday, 14 January 2019

(359) Banks of Highmoor House

Banks of Highmoor
In 1800, the Banks family had been weavers at Keswick (Cumbld.) for several generations, but the sons of William Banks (1780-1860) branched out into other industries. The eldest son, Joseph Banks (1807-60) became a successful pencil manufacturer at Keswick, and the firm he founded survived until 1894, when it was taken over by Hogarth & Hayes, whose successors (after many subsequent takeovers) are still in business today at Workington (Cumbld.). Joseph's younger brother, William Banks (1811-78) was initially intended for the family weaving business, but at his own request was sent to London where he obtained a position with a retail draper. In 1835 he returned to Cumbria as manager for the cotton and linen manufacturing and exporting business run by Joseph Hodge (d. 1846) and his sister Jane (d. 1841). Neither of the principals had any children, and on the death of Joseph Hodge he inherited not only the business but also Hodge's villa near Wigton called High Moor (or Highmoor) House. Once in control of the business, William refocused it on the export of clothing to Australia, where the Gold Rush had caused a rapid increase in demand. He opened a warehouse in Melbourne in 1852, and recruited his younger brother, Thomas Donald Banks (1823-54), who went out to Australia as the local manager, although he died soon afterwards. The firm prospered, and William marked his success by the addition of a tall belvedere tower to Highmoor. When he died in 1878, William was a wealthy man (although later reports that he was a millionaire were greatly exaggerated). He had educated his two sons for the law, and both of them were called to the bar. The elder, Henry Pearson Banks (1844-91), maintained a set of chambers in the Temple where he seems to have spent most of his time, although if he had any legal practice it had ceased well before his death. He seems to have had no involvement with his father's business, but he did hold a number of public appointments in Cumberland, which argues that he must have spent some time there. His younger brother, Edwin Hodge Banks (1847-1917) did join the family firm, of which he became senior partner after his father's death and until he retired in 1888. He then devoted himself to public life, and to farming and horse-breeding, in which he achieved considerable success. Unfortunately he also made some unwise investments and became an underwriting member of Lloyds: by 1907 he had accumulated losses of nearly £100,000 from these two sources, and he was made bankrupt the following year. The Highmoor estate was sold, and he was obliged to terminate his public appointments and retire to the south coast, where he lived in very modest circumstances until his death in 1917. Highmoor was sold again soon after his death and was divided into flats in the 1930s.


Highmoor House, Wigton, Cumberland


Highmoor Mansion: the house of 1810 in the foreground, with the tower and extensions of the 1870s and 1880s behind.
The house began as a five bay two storey stuccoed villa with a pediment over the central three bays, built from 1817 onwards for John Hodge and completed by his son, Joseph. This building still forms the east end of the house, but has lost its glazing bars and any period interiors it once possessed and is now painted a distressing Germolene pink. It was enlarged to the west in about 1870 for William Banks, who added a tall Italianate belvedere tower in stone, and enclosed the park with two miles of iron fencing. In 1885-87, his sons made the tower into a folly, raising its height to an excessive 136 feet, and installing a great bell called Big Joe and a full Belgian carillon, housed in an elaborate and frankly rather vulgar superstructure of 'Mixed Renaissance' pedigree.
Highmoor Mansion: the tower favoured by dramatic
lighting. Image: P. Stephenson. Some rights reserved.
They also extended the house further, adding irregular two-storeyed stuccoed ranges that wrap around the base of the tower. The architect is unknown, but may have been Charles Ferguson (who designed the Skinburness Hotel for the family in 1878) or the estate builder, James Henderson, who built the hotel and to whom 'was entrusted the important work of beautifying Highmoor House by the erection of the fine and unique tower' as his obituary put it. He was also responsible for building the two lodges (known as 'Alpha' and 'Omega') on Lowmoor Road to the north, which have applied half-timbering, tile-hanging, rustic bamboo supports for the porches and dragon finials. In 1909 the estate was sold, and 
the mansion was converted into flats in 1934-35 (renovated in 1972). From the 1930s the grounds have been developed for housing, which now crowds uncomfortably close to the house.

Descent: sold by Mrs. Campbell in 1817 to John Hodge; to son, Joseph Hodge (d. 1846); to William Banks (1811-78); to widow, Sarah Barwise Banks (1813-1901); to son, Edwin Hodge Banks (1847-1917); sold 1909 to Elizabeth Bell, whose trustees leased it, apparently as several properties, and sold 1920 to J. Coulthard of Wigton...sold to Ernest Thompson, property developer, who divided the house into fourteen flats in 1934-35.


Banks family of Highmoor


Banks, William (1780-1860). Fourth and youngest son of Joseph Banks of Keswick (Cumbld.) and his wife Mary, daughter of Abel Grave, baptised at Crosthwaite, 9 June 1780. Woollen manufacturer at Keswick; described as a gentleman at the time of his death. He married, 13 April 1800 at Crosthwaite, Sarah (1783-1856), daughter of John Pearson of Greenside Hall (Cumbld.) and had issue:
(1) Elizabeth Banks (1801-23), born 10 June 1800 and baptised at Crosthwaite, 1 January 1801; died in London, 5 June 1823 and was buried at Islington, 9 June 1823;
(2) Mary Banks (1802-60), baptised at Crosthwaite, 23 May 1802; married, 6 April 1830 at Crosthwaite, Adam Bird (1800-64), and had issue three sons and four daughters; died at Embleton (Cumbld), 23 June 1860;
(3) Dinah Banks (1804-76), baptised at Crosthwaite, 4 November 1804; married, 12 April 1835 at St Leonard, Shoreditch (Middx), John Dunglinson (1791-1860) and has issue two sons and three daughters; died in London, 12 December 1876; will proved 2 January 1877 (effects under £450);
(4) Joseph Banks (1807-60), born 20 June 1807; trained as a weaver but became a pencil manufacturer (Banks, son & Co.) at Keswick from 1833; married 13 June 1829 at Crosthwaite, Ann Raven (1811-71), and had issue two sons and ten daughters; died 2 June 1860 and was buried at Crosthwaite; administration of goods granted to his widow, 6 September 1860 (effects under £3,000);
(5) John Banks (1809-10), baptised 22 September 1809; died in infancy and was buried at Keswick, 18 February 1810;
(6) William Banks (1811-78) (q.v.);
(7) Rebecca Banks (1813-76), born 2 December 1813 and baptised at Crosthwaite, 14 January 1814; married, 2 August 1837 at Crosthwaite, Thomas Pridmore (1806-79) and had issue five sons and two daughters; died 26 December and was buried at Crosthwaite, 29 December 1876;
(8) Ann Banks (1816-76), born 24 June 1816; died unmarried and was buried at Crosthwaite, 27 January 1876;
(9) John Banks (1819-47), baptised at Crosthwaite, 3 January 1819; married, 9 April 1846 at Crosthwaite, Isabella Henderson (1814-88) and had issue one daughter; died at Wigton, 3 December 1847;
(10) Sarah Banks (1821-25), baptised at Crosthwaite, 11 November 1821; died young, 4 February and was buried at Crosthwaite, 6 February 1825;
(11) Thomas Donald Banks (1823-54), baptised at Crosthwaite, 14 December 1823; partner with his elder brother William in Banks Bros, Bell & Co., for whom he acted as representative in Australia; died unmarried at St Kilda, Melbourne (Australia), 30 January 1854 and was buried in Melbourne General Cemetery, where he is commemorated by a tombstone;
(12) Pearson Banks (1827-33), baptised at Crosthwaite, 9 December 1827; died young, 2 November 1833.
He lived at Keswick.
He died at Greta Cottage, Keswick, 13 January 1860; his will was proved 26 May 1860 (effects under £1,500). His wife was buried at Crosthwaite, 26 April 1856.

Banks, William (1811-78). Second surviving son of William Banks (d. 1860) of Keswick, and his wife Sarah, daughter of John Pearson of Greenside Hall (Cumbld.), born at Keswick, 16 January and baptised at Crosthwaite, 25 November 1811. He began his career in business in the late 1820s with Messrs. Flint, Ray & Co., retail drapers in London, and then moved to Wigton in 1835 to join the linen and cotton goods manufacturing and export business of Joseph Hodge and his sister Jane. After the death of Joseph Hodge in 1846 he took over the firm, and in 1852 he opened a warehouse in Melbourne (Australia), with his brother T.D. Banks as local representative. The firm became Banks Bros, Bell & Co., and became perhaps the largest business exporting clothing and later other goods to Australia. He was a JP and DL for Cumberland; High Sheriff of Cumberland, 1871; Chairman of the Wigton Water Works Company, the Wigton Local Board of Health, and the Wigton Highway Board. He was a Conservative in politics, stood unsuccessfully for parliament in Carlisle in 1873, and at the time of his death was the prospective parliamentary candidate for Berwick-on-Tweed. In his later years he spent the winters in Italy for his health, where ironically he contracted his fatal illness. He married, 16 November 1843, Sarah Barwise (1813-1901), daughter of William Dand of Monkhill (Cumbld.), and had issue:
(1) Henry Pearson Banks (1844-91), born at Monkhill (Cumbld), 5 March 1844; educated at Jesus College, Cambridge (matriculated 1864; BA 1871; MA 1874) and Inner Temple (admitted 1871; called to bar, 1874); barrister-at-law but did not practice; JP (from 1871) and DL for Cumberland; High Sheriff of Cumberland, 1886; a Conservative in politics, and with his younger brother jointly funded the building of Wigton Conservative Club; a freemason from 1884; died unmarried at Hastings (Sussex), 19 January 1891; administration of his goods was granted to his brother, 7 March 1891 (effects £17,463).
(2) Edwin Hodge Banks (1847-1917) (q.v.).
He inherited Highmoor in 1846 under the will of his friend and business associate, Joseph Hodge. He apparently bequeathed it to his widow for life.
He died of malaria in London, 1 May 1878; his will was proved at Carlisle, 21 May 1878 (effects in England under £140,000) and administration of his goods in Australia was granted 27 May 1880 at Melbourne (estate £33,025). His widow died 6 September 1901.

Edwin Hodge Banks (1847-1917)
Banks, Edwin Hodge (1847-1917). Younger son of William Banks (1811-78) of Highmoor and his wife Sarah Barwise Dand, born 7 April and baptised at Wigton, 28 July 1847. Educated at Jesus College, Cambridge (matriculated 1866; BA 1870; MA 1874) and Inner Temple (admitted 1868; called to bar, 1873). Barrister-at-law, but he did not practice law and instead joined the family firm (Banks Bros, Ball & Co.), from which he retired in 1888; he was thereafter an underwriter with Lloyds. His obituarist called him 'a man of few words but many deeds' and he led a full public life until his bankruptcy in 1908, when he had sustained debts of nearly £100,000 through losses at Lloyds and on other investments. He served as an officer in Westmorland & Cumberland Yeomanry Cavalry (Capt.) and Wigton Volunteer Corps (Ensign) and was JP and DL for Cumberland and High Sheriff of Cumberland, 1889. He was a Conservative in politics, and served as such as County Councillor for Wigton, 1889-1908; Chairman of Wigton Local Board, 1878-88 and Urban District Council, 1888-1908. He was a director of the Wigton Gas Company and Wigton Market House Company, a trustee of the Hodge Charity, a Governor of the Nelson School and Thomlinson School, and a manager of four local schools. He was a freemason from 1869 and was noted for his philanthropy in the Wigton area, including building and equipping the public baths, and refitting the interior of Wigton church. In private life, he had a particular interest in breeding thoroughbred horses for racing, and had some success in this area as 'Old Joe', which he had bred but sold, won the Grand National in 1886. He was unmarried and had no issue.
He inherited Highmoor on the death of his mother in 1901, but it was sold following his bankruptcy in 1908.
He died in Brighton, 20 August 1917 and was cremated at Norwood before his ashes were interred in the family mausoleum at Wigton; his will was proved 12 November 1917 (estate £396).


Sources


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1924, p. 74; M. Hyde & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Cumbria, 2010, pp. 686-87.


Location of archives


No significant accumulation is known to survive.


Coat of arms


Sable, a cross engrailed or, between, in the 1st and 4th quarters, a bear rampant or, muzzled gules, and in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, a fleur-de-lis or.


Notes about missing information and help wanted with this entry


  • I would be most grateful if anyone can provide photographs or portraits of people whose names appear in bold above. 
  • As always, any additions or corrections to the account given above will be gratefully received and incorporated.

Revision and acknowledgements


This post was first published 14 January 2019.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

(358) Bankes of Winstanley Hall

Bankes of Winstanley
The Bankes family were settled in Wigan by the 15th century and for several generations were pewterers in the town. In the mid 16th century, James Bankes (1542-1617), with whom the genealogy below begins, was sent to London to be apprenticed to a goldsmith. His master may well have been John Ballett, whose business partner he became and whose daughter he married as his first wife. At this period, goldsmiths functioned as bankers and also lent money on interest, and James became wealthy on the profits of this trade. From about 1576, he began to invest surplus money in land (and especially coal-bearing land), which not only offered greater security than money lent on bond, but had the advantage of conferring social status on the possessor. His purchases were mainly in the Wigan area, but also included the manor of Greet near Birmingham. Between 1590 and 1592, James retired from business and moved back to Wigan, where in 1596 he bought the manor of Winstanley and built the earliest part of Winstanley Hall. At much the same time, he married his second wife (his first wife and his son by her having died some years earlier) and produced a second family. His life is unusually well documented for the period, thanks to the survival of his memorandum book and a number of legal cases in which he was involved, but it remains curiously difficult to form a consistent picture of his character. When he was younger, and building up his estate, he was litigious and abrasive and engaged in some sharp business practice. The rector of Wigan, with whom he had a dispute about tithes, thought him 'a proud and insolent man'. But his memorandum book, written in his later years for his children, is couched in pious terms and contains much advice on estate management which amounts to advice to consider your tenants' interests as well as your own; perhaps that was the fruit of bitter experience, or perhaps he softened in old age!

When James Bankes died in 1617, his property passed to his eldest son, William Bankes (1593-1666), who had been educated at Grays Inn to equip him with the sort of legal knowledge useful in estate management (his younger brother, who entered the same inn at the same time, was called to the bar, and became a barrister in London). William is a shadowy figure by comparison with his father, but by dint of staying carefully out of politics, he seems to have managed to remain neutral during the English Civil War, and to have preserved his estate without impairment. His son, William Bankes (1631-76), by contrast, entered public life at the Restoration and was clearly sympathetic to the Court faction. He had a powerful sponsor in the form of Charles Stanley (d. 1672), 8th Earl of Derby, who found him a seat in Parliament and persuaded a reluctant King Charles II that he was of sufficient standing to become a Deputy Lieutenant. But it would seem that his religious sympathies were more radical than his political views, as he employed a deprived minister as tutor to his children: it may be that a similar ambivalence had motivated his father's neutrality.

William was succeeded by his son William Bankes (1658-90), whose public career was along much the same lines as his father's, but was cut short when he died aged 32. He was married but had no children, so the Winstanley estate passed to his younger brother, Thomas Bankes (1659-1728), who had a large family (many of whom died in infancy) but no public career. Thomas was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Robert Bankes (1699-1748), who went to Cambridge and evidently had scientific interests, as he later became a Fellow of the Royal Society, but who again died unmarried. He was followed by his younger brother, William Bankes (1709-75), about whom even less can be said, although it seems likely that he began the exploitation of the coal reserves on the estate for more than purely local consumption. His only surviving son, William Bankes (1751-1800), undertook the first recorded remodelling of Winstanley Hall in about 1780, but again had no children, and with him the continuous male line descent of the estate came to an end. He bequeathed his property to his first cousin, the Rev. Thomas Holme (1732-1803), who lived at Holland House, Upholland, and when he died soon afterwards the estate came to his eldest surviving son, Meyrick Holme (1768-1827), who took the name Bankes in 1804. Meyrick had a career as an officer in the Royal Navy, but retired some time in the 1790s as a lieutenant; he then served as a militia officer before inheriting Winstanley, and going on to become High Sheriff and a Deputy Lieutenant. He continued the process of developing coal working on the estate, and the profits of this enabled him to enlarge and remodel Winstanley Hall in 1818-19. It was, however, his son, another Meyrick Bankes (1811-81), who finally put coal mining on the estate onto a fully commercial basis, establishing coal depots in Liverpool and Manchester from which his coal was distributed directly to customers, and hugely increasing the scale of production.

In the 19th century, the profits of coal mining made the Bankes family a great deal richer than they had been before. In the 1830s, Meyrick Bankes, who took little part in public life and was 'of a retiring disposition', bought several large and contiguous properties in north-west Ross-shire to form the Letterewe estate, which was used as a late summer and autumn retreat for shooting and deer stalking. Over time, a series of large houses were built on this estate for members of his family. The earliest may have been Gruinard House, a curiously English neo-Tudor house which may have been built soon after Bankes purchased the property in 1835; Letterewe itself was rebuilt in about 1858; while Drumchork House at Aultbea was under construction for his eldest son in 1881-82; and was unfinished when first the father and then the son died within a few months of each other. 

In later life, Meyrick Bankes became increasingly eccentric, and he left separate wills respecting his English and Scottish property which were extremely complex, highly manipulative of his children, and provided lucrative work for lawyers for years afterwards. One of his principal objectives seems to have been to separate the ownership of Winstanley and Letterewe, and this he achieved. What he did not foresee was that both his legitimate sons would die without issue within a year of his will being proved. The effect of the wills was therefore that his eldest daughter, Eleanor (1837-1907), inherited the Winstanley estate, while his second daughter, Maria Ann (1839-1904) received Letterewe. Eleanor was married to William John Murray (1835-84), who owned a small estate of his own in Ross-shire but who was already confined in an Edinburgh asylum by the time his wife came into Winstanley. After he died, Eleanor joined forces with her second son to buy Balconie Castle (Ross-shire), which took the place of Letterewe as a base for Scottish holidays from 1890 onwards and remained in the family until the Second World War. Maria Ann had married Lt-Gen W.C. Robertson Macdonald of Kinlochmoidart, but divorced him in 1881 and married a Frenchman of modest physical stature, Paul Liot, who took the name Bankes and threw himself rather improbably into Highland life, where he became known as the 'pocket French laird'. Maria sold Letterewe after his death in 1901.

Winstanley Hall and Balconie Castle passed on Eleanor's death in 1907 to her second but eldest surviving son, George Hildyard Bankes (1867-1949), who was the last person to fully occupy either house. During his lifetime, many of the coal mines which had sustained the prosperity of the estate in the 19th century were closed, and after the Second World War (when both Winstanley and Balconie were requisitioned for military use) he also sold Balconie to a local timber merchant who had no use for the house and let it rot until it became dangerous and had to be demolished. His estate was still comfortably over £400,000 when he died, however, so it is hard to see why his daughter, Joyce (1904-74), who wrote articles and a book about the history of the Winstanley estate and was clearly interested in the place, was apparently unable to afford to live in the house, even after paying the swingeing death duties of the time. In the 1950s, she and her husband, Ralph Vincent Bankes (who was no relation, but a member of the Bankes family of Soughton Hall in Flintshire), carved a family flat out of the house and more or less abandoned the rest of the building. By the 1980s the house was unoccupied and it has remained so ever since, sliding ever more rapidly into dereliction and ruin. The estate remains in the hands of the family, but the house and a small amount of surrounding land was sold in 2000 to a housing development company which first applied for permission to demolish the house and redevelop the site and then submitted a scheme for restoration that involved so much enabling development that it was rejected by Wigan Council. The house is now partly roofless and almost beyond economic repair, and one hopes a creative restoration solution - perhaps involving sale to a building preservation trust - can be found before a catastrophic collapse takes place.


Winstanley Hall, Wigan, Lancashire


There was probably a manor house of the eponymous Winstanley family here from the 13th century, for there is a moated site in the park which is likely to have been the location of a high status dwelling. However the present Winstanley Hall is essentially an Elizabethan stone house built for James Bankes (1542-1617) soon after he bought the estate in 1596. The main front faces east, and has a half-H plan with two projecting wings either side of a recessed centre, with square projections in the re-entrant angles, originally forming the entrance porch and hall bay. It is one of three houses in the Wigan area built in this form, the other two being Birchley Hall (1594) and Bispham Hall (c.1600-10). 


Winstanley Hall: an engraving of the house in 1817, showing it before the removal of the gables.

The centre, wings, and the projections in between were originally all gabled, but the gables were taken down and replaced by a plain parapet in the early 19th century. The house was traditionally planned, with a great hall in the centre, a great chamber above, the porch leading into a screens passage at the lower end (to the right), and a bay window lighting the dais at the upper end. The original elevation may not have been entirely symmetrical but it had evidently become so by the 19th century, when the window lighting the dais end of the hall had evidently become a second porch. 


Winstanley Hall: the south front built by Lewis Wyatt in 1818-19, from an old postcard.

Winstanley was extensively remodelled by Lewis Wyatt in 1818-19 for Meyrick Bankes (1768-1827). He created a new south front, clustered around a four storey central tower, which is quite convincingly in the same style as the original work, and is united with it by the continuous parapet. His new range must, however, incorporate earlier additions, for at the south-west corner is a canted bay of 1780, designed by L. Robinson but with an extra storey added by Wyatt. The west range is gabled and irregular, but some of it seems to date from the 1780 period. There were further extensions at the north end of the house (helpfully with datestones of 1843 and 1889), but again they incorporate some earlier work. The interior is, or perhaps more accurately was until recent dereliction, largely of the Lewis Wyatt period. The staircase hall has an elegant neo-classical ceiling rose and a delicate wrought iron balustrade, and what may have originally been a drawing room but was later used as a study retains a neo-classical chimneypiece and simple frieze.

To the north-east of the house stands a large stable yard, loosely enclosed by four free-standing ranges of different, mostly 19th century dates. In the centre of the yard is a big Neptune fountain of c.1830 by William Spence, with rearing horses executed in stone. The once secluded park was probably given its present form by Lewis Wyatt, who built the lodge and gatepiers on Pemberton Road in c.1818, and perhaps also the former walled garden. During the Second World War, Winstanley Hall was requisitioned for military use, and open-cast coal mining was begun in the park in 1942.  The hall survived military occupation, although there was some vandalism, but the coal mining in the park caused subsidence which affected part of the house, even though coal was not taken from directly under the building. In the 1960s, the construction of the M6 motorway cut the park in two. However, the landscape of the park was reinstated after mining finished (and the Bankes family carried out some subsequent tree planting), and the motorway is sunk in a cutting, so the setting was not fatally compromised by these developments.


Winstanley Hall: the current state of the building after
a partial collapse of the roof.
As far as I have been able to establish, in the 1950s the family created a flat within the house which they continued to use, while largely abandoning the rest of the building. The house remained thus partly occupied until 1984, but has since been wholly abandoned and allowed to decay. The property was sold to a developer in 2000 who applied for permission to demolish the house, which was refused after Save Britain's Heritage intervened and offered financial and professional support for a scheme involving the restoration of the buildings. SAVE has also drawn up a proposed scheme of reuse, but although the developer has submitted a number of planning applications, none have yet been approved, apparently because the level of enabling development required by the developer is unacceptable to the Council. This has led to an impasse in which the only change is that the house accelerates towards disaster, and the cost of restoration rapidly increases. Some stabilisation work was undertaken on the courtyard buildings in 2015, with financial support from the English Heritage, but the condition of the house is now very poor: it has suffered from dry rot and extensive water ingress and, as a result, the roof and ceilings have partially collapsed. At the time of writing, it can still be saved, but time is running out fast and it is very much to be hoped that a scheme satisfactory to all parties can be agreed soon.

Descent: sold 1596 to James Bankes (1542-1617); to son, William Bankes (1593-1666); to son, William Bankes (1631-76); to son, William Bankes (1658-90); to brother, Thomas Bankes (1659-1728); to son, Robert Bankes (1699-1748); to brother, William Bankes (1709-75); to son, William Bankes (1751-1800); to cousin, Rev. Thomas Holme (1733-1803); to son, Meyrick Holme (later Bankes) (1768-1827); to son, Meyrick Bankes (1811-81); to daughter, Eleanor Starkie Letterewe (1837-1907), wife of William John Murray (later Bankes) (1835-84); to son, George Hildyard Bankes (1867-1949); to daughter, Joyce Helena Murray (1904-74), wife of Capt. Edward William Jervis Bankes RN (1904-84) ....sold 2000 (with 10 acres) to Dorbcrest Homes. Much of the surrounding estate still belongs to the Bankes family.

Letterewe House, Ross & Cromarty


Letterewe House: the house as it exists today


The house began as a minor laird's house on the estate of the Mackenzies of Gairloch, described as 'a good seat' in 1813, and reputedly having 16th or 17th century origins. The house can still only be reached by boat across Loch Maree or on foot, and the large estate (81,000 acres in 1996) is one of the most remote parts of the British Isles. Successive remodellings, including a major one in 1858 for Meyrick Bankes (1811-81) and another after 1976 for Paul Fentener van Vlissingen, have turned the house into a pretty white-harled baronial shooting lodge with bartisans on the corners, tall dormers breaking into the roof, and a pyramidal-roofed tower with a cupola on top. The house is now available for short-term rental on a self-catering basis.

Descent: Hector Mackenzie sold 1835 to Meyrick Bankes (1811-81); to daughter, Maria Ann (1839-1904), wife of Lt-Gen. W.C. Robertson Macdonald and later of Paul Liot (later Bankes) (d. 1901); sold 1901 to Lawrence Dundas (1844-1929), 3rd Earl and later 1st Marquess of Zetland, who gave it c.1922 to his son, Lawrence John Lumley Dundas (1876-1961), 2nd Marquess of Zetland; sold to Col. Bill Whitbread (1900-94), who sold 1977 to Paul Fentener van Vlissingen (1941-2006); to daughters Alicia and Tannetta Fentener van Vlissingen.


Balconie Castle, Evanton, Ross & Cromarty

An early 19th century castellated house, built on the site of a medieval tower house, and said to have incorporated part of its fabric. It was constructed for Alexander Fraser, who managed one of Evan Baillie's estates in Grenada and married his daughter; he purchased the estate in 1806 and later founded the adjoining village of Evanton. His house was a six-bay, three-storey block with a central tower and a service wing to one side. It was essentially a rather plain building with sash windows, but was given a touch of Gothick fantasy by a crenellated parapet all round, which was repeated on the top of the tower.


Balconie Castle: the house in the early 20th century, from an old postcard.

The house was altered internally and extended by Andrew Maitland & Sons for George H. Bankes in 1891-92, shortly after he and his mother jointly purchased the property, and was subsequently used as a holiday home and a base for shooting and fishing in the summer months. During the Second World War the house was requisitioned by the Army and troops were billeted there. After the War, George Bankes sold the estate to A.J.M. Munro, a timber-merchant from Alness, who allowed the house to remain empty. It gradually became derelict and a target for vandalism, and by 1968 it was deemed unsafe and was blown up. The stables and some outbuildings survived and were later converted into a private house.

Descent: built c.1806 for Alexander Fraser (1759-1837); sold 1838 to Hugh Munro of Teaninich; given to illegitimate daughter, Catherine (d. 1877), later wife of [forename unknown] Reid; to cousin, Mary Mackenzie, who sold 1890 to George Hildyard Bankes (1867-1949) and his mother, Eleanor Starkie Letterewe Bankes (1837-1907); he sold 1948 to A.J.M. Munro, who demolished the house in 1968. 


Bankes family of Winstanley Hall



Bankes, James (1542-1617). Reputedly the son of William Bankes of Wigan, born 1542. Citizen, goldsmith and moneylender of London, in partnership with John Ballett until 1576;  retired between 1590 and 1592; by industry and sharp practice he built a substantial fortune, which from 1576 onwards he increasingly salted away in the purchase of land, especially land with mineral resources in the form of coal. He was litigious, and the rector of Wigan noted that he was "of great wealth and riches, and by means thereof grown to be a very proud and insolent man". He married 1st, 6 June 1575 at St Vedast, Foster Lane, London, Elizabeth, daughter of his partner John Ballett, and 2nd, c.1590, Susan (d. 1627/8), daughter of William Sherrington of London, haberdasher, and had issue:
(1.1) A son, who died young;
(2.1) John Bankes (d. 1592); died in infancy and was buried at Wigan, 13 August 1592;
(2.2) William Bankes (1593-1666) (q.v.);
(2.3) Thomas Bankes (1595-1651), baptised at Wigan, 21 December 1595; educated at Grays Inn (admitted 1613); barrister-at-law in London; married, 1626, Elizabeth, daughter of William Bispham and widow of Edward Cotton of Cotton Hall (Cheshire); died 1651;
(2.4) Margaret Bankes (b. c.1600); married, 1625, George Hyde of Urmston (Lancs);
(2.5) Ralph Bankes (b. c.1600), born about 1600; living in 1617;
(2.6) James Bankes (1603-61), baptised at Wigan, 12 October 1603; buried at Wigan, 22 August 1661.
He purchased the manor of Winstanley in 1596 and built Winstanley Hall soon afterwards. His second wife inherited substantial property, including Wardley Hall, from her family before 1601, when she sold it to other members of her family.
He died 4 August 1617 and was buried at Wigan the following day; his will was proved at Chester, 29 October 1617 (effects £336). His first wife died before 1590. His widow died in 1627/8 and was buried at Wigan.

Bankes, William (1593-1666). Eldest surviving son of James Bankes (1542-1617) and his second wife Susan, daughter of William Sherrington of London, merchant, baptised at Wigan, 30 December 1593. Educated at Grays Inn (admitted 1613). He maintained a stance of neutrality throughout the Civil War and successfully preserved his property intact. He married 1st, 1613, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Ireland, kt., of Bewsey Hall (Lancs) and 2nd, 20 May 1624 at Chastleton (Oxon), Sara (1590?-1668), daughter of Walter Jones of Chastleton House, and had issue:
(1.1) James Bankes (1614-59), baptised at Wigan, 15 May 1614; educated at Grays Inn (admitted 1634); died in the lifetime of his father and was buried at Wigan, 12? February 1658/9;
(1.2) Thomas Bankes (1615-57?), baptised at Wigan, 15 August 1615; died in the lifetime of his father, and was perhaps the man of this name buried at Wigan, 30 April 1657;
(1.3) William Bankes (b. & d. 1619), baptised at Wigan, 15 June 1619; died in infancy and was buried at Wigan, 29 June 1619;
(2.1) William Bankes (1630-76) (q.v.).
He inherited Winstanley Hall from his father in 1617.
He was buried at Wigan, 13 October 1666. His first wife was buried at Wigan, 2 April 1621. His widow was buried at Wigan, 25 June 1668.

Bankes, William (1630-76). Only recorded son of William Bankes (1593-1666) and his second wife, Sara, daughter of Walter Jones of Chastleton (Oxon), baptised at Wigan, 19 August 1630. MP for Newton, 1660 and Liverpool, 1675-76; JP for Lancashire, 1665-66, 1670-76; DL for Lancashire, 1660-62, 1663?-76; Vice-Admiral of Lancashire and Cheshire, 1673-76; Commissioner for Assessment, 1660-74; joint Farmer of the Excise for Lancashire, 1665-74; Freeman of Liverpool by 1670. He was a client of the Earls of Derby, who promoted his career and persuaded King Charles II to accept him as a Deputy Lieutenant. As an MP, he was a supporter of the Court, but in the early 1660s, he employed the deprived Presbyterian minister, Adam Martindale, as tutor to his children. He married, 23 October 1656, Frances (d. 1693?), daughter of Peter Legh of Bruche (Lancs), and granddaughter of Sir Peter Legh of Lyme Park, and had issue:
(1) William Bankes (1658-90) (q.v.);
(2) Thomas Bankes (1659-1728) (q.v.);
(3) Rev. James Bankes (1660-1742), born 1660; educated at St Paul's School, London, and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1679; BA 1682/3; MA 1686); Tutor and Librarian of Trinity College, Cambridge, 1691-1706; rector of Lilley (Herts), 1706-09; rector of Bury (Lancs), 1710-43 and vicar of Heywood (Lancs), 1729-42; died unmarried and was buried at Wigan*, 21 May 1743;
(4) Sarah Maria Bankes (1663-1748); died without issue;
(5) Frances Bankes (b. 1665), baptised at Wigan, 23 May 1665; died young before 1670;
(6) Legh Bankes (1666-1705), baptised at Wigan, 30 August 1666; educated at Grays Inn, London (admitted 1685); married, 19 August 1703 at Ashton-in-Makerfield (Lancs), Alice, widow of Thomas Launder of Newhall, Ashton; buried at Wigan, 5 October 1703;
(7) Charles Bankes (1667-71), baptised at Wigan, 20 February 1667/8; died young and was buried at Wigan, 8 August 1671;
(8) Anne Bankes (1669-72), baptised at Wigan, 28 October 1669; died young and was buried at Wigan, 18 June 1672;
(9) Frances Bankes (1670-1745), baptised at Wigan, 22 February 1670; married, Edward Morgan (b. 1669) of Golden Grove (Flints.) and had issue including Catherine (who married Robert Bankes (1699-1748) (q.v.)); died 1744/5;
(10) Piers Bankes (b. & d. 1673), baptised at Wigan, 6 February 1672/3; died in infancy and was buried at Wigan, 5 April 1673;
(11) Elizabeth Bankes (b. 1675), baptised at Wigan, 31 August 1675; married, 1711, her cousin Richard Legh (1679-1740), Captain of Horse, third son of Richard Legh of Lyme Park, but died without issue.
He inherited Winstanley Hall from his father in 1666.
He died 6 July 1676 and was buried at Chastleton (Oxon); his will was proved in the PCC, 9 November 1676. His widow is said to have died in 1693.
* According to an entry in the Bury parish register.

Bankes, William (1658-90). Eldest son of William Bankes (1630-76) and his wife Frances, daughter of Peter Legh of Bruche (Lancs), born 24 August 1658. Educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1676) and Grays Inn (admitted 1676). MP for Wigan, 1679, 1688-89 on the interest of the Earl of Derby. JP for Lancashire, 1683-88, 1689-90 and DL for Lancashire, 1689-90. Bailiff of Liverpool, 1685-88. He married, 31 March 1687 at Wigan, his cousin Lettice (1663-1719), daughter of Richard Legh of Lyme Park (Cheshire), but had no issue.
He inherited Winstanley Hall from his father in 1676 and came of age in 1679.
He died 10 January 1689/90 and was buried at Wigan. His widow married 2nd, 1700, Thomas Fleetwood, and died in 1719.

Bankes, Thomas (1659-1729). Second son of William Bankes (1630