History of Crackenthorpe Hall

Crackenthorpe Hall was mentioned in the Domesday Book and is listed by English Heritage as Grade II*, being of Historical and Architectural importance. The Hall was the ancestral home of the Machel family, reputedly descended from a Roman centurian (Matalus Catalus) ,from Roman times.

The House has evolved over the centuries with Tudor, Restoration, Georgian and Victorian alterations. It is thought likely that there was a Roman Villa on this site, evidenced by the Roman Altars that have been incorporated into one of the east gable walls of the house. Crackenthorpe Hall is thought to have suffered at the hands of invading Scots and early border ' Reivers' (an old name for bandit) between the 14th - 17th Centuries

Crackenthorpe Hall is steeped in history, and became of national importance when King Henry VI took refuge here, following his defeat by the Yorkists at the Battle of Hexham in 1464. Apparently he lived incognito, disguised as a working gardener.

The atmosphere of mystery is further reinforced by the troublesome and well-documented ghost of Peg Sleddall who was Lady of Crackenthorpe Manor during Cromwell's time. She is said to have haunted the family and the Hall, as the Grey Lady of Crackenthorpe, reappearing before the death of successive heads of the family. Peg's ghost was so troublesome that she was exhumed from the churchyard and reburied in the River Eden adjacent to Crackenthorpe Hall and covered by a large Granite boulder brought in for the purpose. The Granite boulder is now known as Peg's Stone. There have been many sightings of Peg over the years, sometimes in her carriage, often accompanied by the Helm wind blowing down from the Pennines.

Line Drawing of Crackenthorpe Hall 1858

The current house was probably built around 1630 and refronted in 1685 by Hugh and Thomas Machel. In 1786 the Crackenthorpe estate was sold (some say lost in a game of cards) to the Lowther Estate. In the 1877, the estate was repurchased from the Earl of Lonsdale by Captain Octavius Machel, a successful racehorse trainer and winner of the Derby on several occasions. The Captain proceeded to renovate an considerably extend Crackenthorpe Hall into a grand Victorian country House. It is this grand part of the house which is available to rent. When Captain Octavius died in 1902, the house passed to his nephew, Colonel Percy Machel.

Royal connections continued when, in 1905, King Edward VII attended the wedding of Colonel Percy Machel to the singer Lady Victoria Alice Leopoldina Ada Laura (“Valda”), daughter of Count Gleichen and a great-niece of Edward’s late mother, Queen Victoria.

A fountain in the garden of the hall was sculpted by Valda’s sister, Feodora. Valda, Feodora and a third sister, Helena, were bridesmaids to Edward’s eldest daughter, Princess Louise, the Princess Royal, in 1889.

Tragically, Percy Machel, who was a Colonel in the Lonsdales Battalion, was killed on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. In 1929, Lady Valda sold Crackenthorpe Hall thus ending nearly 1,000 years of Machel family connection to Crackenthorpe Hall.

Photo of Crackenthorpe Hall 1897