In 1744 the Earl was advised to sell the two estates and Hutton, seeing the chance of a bargain, purchased that of Gate Burton. (The neighbouring Knaith estate was sold to a Mr Dalton, and in the early 19th century Hutton’s grandson bought it and brought it back to the Hutton family.) Gate Burton at that time had no hall or manor house and rather than go to the expense of providing one Mr Hutton built the little Château on its wooded knoll above the river, with its garden and plantations around it, as a weekend cottage. There, according to his son, “he could retire from the Business of his office at Gainsborough, from a Saturday evening until the Monday Morning”. He would have had his rooms on the first floor, with a kitchen and servant’s room below.
The architect of the Château was John Platt, and it must have been almost his first work, designed when he was only 19. Platt came from a family of mason architects and for 50 years and more he practised as a builder and statuary mason as well as an architect, all with equal success. He worked almost exclusively in Yorkshire; the Château is almost his only building outside the county. His many works include Mount Pleasant, near Sheffield; Thundercliffe Grange, Ecclefield and Page Hall, Eccleshall. He added a wing to Tong Hall, designed a fireplace for Renishaw and staircases made of marble from his own quarries for Aston Hall and Clifton Hall.
Thomas Hutton finally began to build Gate Burton Hall in about 1765, and it was mostly complete by 1768. The Château came to be used simply as a summer house, an agreeable destination for picnics or the odd night “in rural seclusion”. Towards the end of the century, however, alterations were carried out, including the addition of balconies at either end of the building. In the 19th century new windows were inserted, but they were on the wrong scale being two panes wide instead of three; the exterior above the rustication was rendered and the roof was renewed.
In 1907 the Hutton family sold both Gate Burton and Knaith to the Sandars family, wealthy maltsters from Gainsborough. In the sale particulars the Château is described as a shooting box, so the upper floor had probably been kept for the use of the family for shooting lunches and other such entertainments. After the War it was not lived in again and was left stranded without natural users. Gate Burton Hall, with its park, was sold again in 1974, but the strip of land along the river where the Château stands was retained and became part of the Knaith Hall estate, which had been inherited by a connection of the Sandars family.
The work of neglect and natural decay inevitably continued, accelerated as so often by the activities of vandals, until the building was approaching the point of collapse. In 1982 the owner, concerned for its survival but unable to afford the cost of repair himself therefore offered it to the Landmark Trust.
For a short history of The Chateau please click here.
To read the full history album for The Chateau please click here.