Cliffe Castle Restoration

Cliffe Castle in Keighley, West Yorkshire sees a restoration of its Great Drawing Room to celebrate its 50th anniversary as a museum. BRITAIN talks to Daru Rooke, director.

Great Drawing Room, Cliffe Castle
During the late 19th century, Yorkshire millionaire textile magnet Henry Isaac Butterfield transformed his modest early Victorian villa in Keighley into Cliffe Castle. Complete with glass domes, minarets and ‘medieval’ battlements, it had all mod cons inside, from hot air heating and double glazing to opulent bathrooms. He modelled it on homes he had seen in America and at the French Imperial Court. His wife Mary Roosevelt Burke – Teddy Roosevelt’s aunt – had been one of Princess Eugenie’s (wife of Napoleon III of France) ladies-in-waiting and the French influence shows.

Says director Daru Rooke, ” All the rooms were designed by a Parisian, M Gramond and the French influence shows in his brocatelle hangings, painted ceilings and vast cut glass chandeliers. The Butterfields filled the house with unusual items such as a candelabrum owned by Lord Byron, old master paintings and a malachite chimney piece from Prince Demidoff’s Florentine Palace. It was amazing.
But in the 1950s, the house was sold to Sir Bracewell Smith, a Keighley man who had become Lord Mayor of London. He remodelled the castle again and turned it into a museum. Unfortunately, much of the contents was auctioned off.”
Cliffe Castle, Keighley, Yorks
”To celebrate Cliffe Castle’s Golden Jubilee opening as a museum, the Great Drawing Room has been carefully restored to its gold silk glory. Centre stage we’ve hung a life-size portrait of Napoleon III, Henry’s hero.” The recreated room is a chance to see Victorian opulence at its most magnificent.

Open from now onwards. Cliffe Castle Museum, Spring Gardens Lane, Keighley, West Yorkshire BD20 6LH; tel: (01535) 618231.