11th Century -

The Brisco family moved to England with the Conqueror in 1066 following the victory at the Battle of Hastings. They had settled in Brisco-on-Esk in Cumbria and held a fort with soldiers on the border with Scotland. 

Crofton Hall Front

11th Century - 

The first record of the family is Sir Robert Brisco, Lord of Brisco he was the only son of Allan Brisco and his wife Elizabeth Haverington. He married Matilda Musgrave the daughter of Sir Richard Musgrave and Christina Crofton. They had a son Thomas Musgrave who married Sarah De Harcla from Hartley Castle, Cumbria. She was the daughter of Sir Michael De Harcla of Hartley Castle and his wife Joan FitzJohn. The sister of, Andrew De Harcla, 1st Earl of Carlisle. he was born in 1270 and died in 1323. 

Hartley Castle, home of the de Harcla family and then the Musgraves

(Hartley Castle, home of the de Harcla family and then the Musgrave Family)

12th Century -

In the 12th century following the marriage of Isold Brisco to heiress Margaret Crofton daughter of Sir John Crofton, the manor of Crofton was passed to the Brisco's by marriage. 

Isold Brisco fought in the last Crusades and became a hermit in later life. For many generations the manor of Crofton passed down the male line of the family as Lords of the Manor of Crofton. Isold's heir, Sir Christopher Brisco was taken prisoner and forced to mortgage the estate by the Church, giving land to the church to be released. 

13th Century -

There are no records of what stood at the hall apart from a Pele Tower. This was essential for any country manor in the medieval times, based in the West Marches of Reiver Country. Reiver country sits along the Anglo-Scottish border. Spanning from the 13th century to the 17th century rival families would raid and plunder on neighbours either side of the border with no thought of nationality. Many of the families would go on to establish themselves as the gentry within Cumbria and in Scottish and English noble life.

Although the Brisco family themselves weren’t involved, many of the families who married into the Brisco family were including the Musgrave’s and Graham families. 

15th Century -

The Brisco’s would be close to the main events of the medieval times for hundreds of years to come. In 1415 the family sent 7 members to fight the French at the Battle of Agincourt where Sir John was a standard bearer in the battle.

During the Wars of the Roses following the defeat of the Lancastrian King Henry VI at the Battle of Hexham sought refuge at the Hall before moving on to Crackenthorpe Hall, where a Brisco was Lady of the Manor where he disguised as a gardener to avoid being captured. 

16th Century -

In 1542 when the Scottish Army led by James V of Scotland invaded England, Sir John Brisco was one of the men to lead the English troops on behalf of King Henry VIII at the Battle of Solway Moss. The English defeated the much larger Scottish army but paying the ultimate price for King and Country was Sir John Brisco who died in battle. Within the national archives lies a letter from Henry VIII to Phillip Wharton, Lord Wharton who was also in charge of the troops at the Battle of Solway Moss directing his widow and 1 year old heir to be given 3000 acres of land and substantial financial support for their loss. 2 weeks later, James died in grief of the defeat and not having a son but a daughter, that daughter was Mary, Queen of Scots…

The Back of Crofton Hall

(The back of the hall, showing the 17th century to the left and the 19th century to the right.) 

17th Century -

The hall was stood in beautiful landscape gardens during this point. The deer park was added in the 1600's and following the English Civil War the house was knocked down and built again.

Colonel William Brisco was MP for Cumberland and in charge of the estate of his kinsman, Phillip Wharton, 1st Lord Wharton. He was also known as one of the staunchest Parliamentarians' in the country during the Civil War. He fought for the Round Heads but crucially for the families survival following the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, he didn't sign the death warrant of King Charles I. Following the restoration, the hall flourished with the estate extending to just under 9000 acres. Col. William was the MP for Cumberland during this process following the return of Charles II in the Protectorate Parliament. 

Colonel William Brisco married firstly Susanna Cranfield the daughter of Sir Randal Cranfield and his wife Margaret Villiers. Sir Randal Cranfield was the son Thomas Cranfield and older brother of Lionel Cranfield, 1st Earl of Middlesex. He married secondly Susanna Brown daughter of Francis Brown alderman of London. He was a colonel in the new model army and left his heir, John Brisco to inherit his estate in the late 17th century.

 

(Sir Christopher Musgrave, ancestor of the family, a pair of postcards showing - Adams fireplace in Crofton Hall and entrance arch way with stag)

18th Century - 

The 18th century firmly established the estate and family. With huge wealth from their family ventures and the estates wealth. The west coast of Cumbria offered a gateway to the world when for a time the port town of Whitehaven was the third busiest port in England behind those of Liverpool and Bristol. Rev. John Brisco was the vicar in the nearby parish of Aspatia. His marriage to Catherine Hylton daughter of John Hylton, 16th Baron Hylton was a prosperous one. Their son, John would be created a baronet in 1782 by King George. Sir John Brisco, 1st Baronet married Caroline Alice Fleming daughter of Hon. Gilbert Fane Fleming, Lieut-General of St Knitts and Lady Camilla Bennet. Sir John died in 1805 and was buried alongside his son, Fleming John in Bath Abbey, Somerset. Sir John's brother, Hon. Horton Brisco was part of the bodyguard to The Duke of Wellington's brother, Richard, Marquess of Wellesley. He was in the East India Company and died in Calcutta, India. 

Sir John Brisco, 1st Baronet  Lady Caroline Brisco 

(Sir John Brisco, 1st Baronet and his wife, Lady Brisco, both by Thomas Gainsborough and Sir John's father, Rev. John Brisco and brother Col. Hon. Horton Brisco.)

19th Century - 

By the turn of the century the hall was at its height, in 1810 the main hall was rebuilt in the Georgian Regency style and the house employed some 54 servants. Sir John and Lady Caroline had issue including heir, Sir Wastel Brisco, 2nd Baronet and Fleming John Brisco Esq. Upon Sir John's death in 1810, Sir Wastel inherited the title and estates in England and the West Indies. He married Sarah Ladbrooke in 1806 and had an heir, Sir Robert. 

By 1813, Lady Sarah had had more than enough of her husband and took him to court for cruelty and adultery. This was to prove to be an incredibly lengthy affair lasting for over ten years. Lady Sarah remained at their home in London, whilst her erstwhile husband went to live in their country estate in Cumbria.

As well as the issue of adultery the tricky subject of money reared its ugly head and how much money each of them had and how much they believed they should have as a result of a possible divorce.

Sir Robert Brisco inherited the estate in the Victorian era, there were no more alterations on the house. The hall was visited by the Prince of Connaught in the 1890's and hosted many fabulous shoots and hunts until the 1940's. 

Sir Robert's son, Sir Musgrave Brisco became the 4th Baronet in 1884 and married Mary Elizabeth Fielden daughter of Sir William Henry Fielden, 3rd Baronet and his wife Mary Elizabeth Wemyss. The 4th Baronet was Deputy Lieutenant for Cumberland. 

  Sir Robert, 3rd Baronet

(Sir Musgrave Brisco, 4th Baronet and Sir Wastel Brisco, 2nd Baronet and Sir Robert Brisco, 3rd Baronet)

20th Century -

Their son and heir, Sir Hylton was an avid collector of wild animals including his pet monkey. Sadly in the 1920's Sir Hylton Brisco, 5th Baronet was lost at sea, on board a cruise. The estate was left to his family but the majority of the estate was sold a short time afterwards due to the succumbing fate of so many of Britain's great estates. Ending an almost 900 year association with the Crofton Hall estate.

Entrance Hall  Sir Hylton Brisco, 5th Baronet

(Entrance Hall at Crofton Hall and Sir Hylton Brisco, 5th Baronet) 

 

(The Cumberland Hunt outside the gates flanked by the greyhound, the family crest.)

Walled Garden at Crofton Hall

(The wall garden with the coach house in the background) 

A poem written about the hall in the 1900's - 
I stand alone surrounded by the remnants of my woods; 
My rooms are all untenanted and emptied of all my goods; 
I stand alone-brooding long oft think me of my past,
And see the pageant of my years with all my players cast.
 
Upon my site for many years, a manor home hath stood,
The centre of my smiling lands within old Inglewood;
I’ve seen the yeoman gather here, when Norman’s rules the land, 
When chivalry and cruelty of times walked hand in hand.
 
The ghosts of long dead years oft walk and converse my hall,
I’ve heard them mock their likeness that hung upon my wall;
They roam again my spacious rooms, to them for ever dear:
Tragedies and comedies oft enacted here.
 
They played their part in building me, my manor and my lands; 
My woods were planted by them and my swamps drained by their hands:
Beloved by every one of them: to each a hallowed spot
And often they protected me against the raiding Scot.
 
I’ve seen them ride before their men, all armed with bow and spear, 
I’ve heard the long long drawn haunting sobs of those who held their dear;
One marched along the Northwood road to bloody Solway Moss.
 
He came no more to his loved home; a widow mourned his loss.
And others trod the paths of peace and oftimes journeyed far, 
When danger lurked in every league not under fortunes star;
They roamed afar in many lands that lie across the sea,
And treasures which they garnered there were all brought back to me.
 
I’ve heard them plan their tenants’ good, the welfare of their farms, 
Or hatch a well-nigh perfect scheme for adding to my charms; 
I’ve seen them at work and sport, their jesting and their play, 
Or off to keep a lovers tryst when life was young and gay. 
 
A’ down my lady’s walk they come, my loves of yester year, 
With hearts all full of happy hope, and laughing eyes so clear; 
On silvery nights when the moon rises high, they come a’strolling down. 
In powdered wig and buckled shoe, and trailing silver gown. 
 
I’ve seen the ‘gallants meet to hold a dock fight at the dawn, 
The golden Guineas wagered then r upon my dew-drenched lawn. 
I’ve heard the shouts from out my lows when greyhound coursed with zest; 
They were my pride; these fleeting hounds
adorn my family crest. 
 
And of my greyhounds twain are left, guarding my entrance gate; 
They stare with sightless eyes, in solitary state; 
They do not see my lordly swans, my heronry of note;
Their carven lines and features plain, a masterhand once wrought. 
 
When stately trees on Torkin Hill were reaching to the sky, 
I often heard the hunter’s note, as he the fox did spy; 
I see again a merry hunt that rides from dawn to dark
Till reynard slunk back to his lair across my rolling park. 
 
My noble beech, my lofty elm, alas, where are you now?
With all your ancient rookeries by hand of man laid low, 
The centuries of patient growth all wasted in a day; 
Your limbs are rotting on the ground, your trunks all borne away.
 
But, hark! The bells of Thursby church ring out so loud and clear, 
They usher in, with joyous noise, another glad new year; 
Another year, symbol of times ever quickening stride, 
Which leaves me-ah so far behind-in this my eventide. 
 
What this new year may hold for me strangers minds may know; 
Perchance like my fair woodlands, I’ll be wasted and laid low; 
But though I’m levelled to the ground, what though my roof tree fall, 
The ghosts of bygone years will meet in what was Crofton Hall.