The Gunter Family and Wetherby Grange

Originally known as Beilby Grange or Micklethwaite Grange, Wetherby Grange was built in the 17th century by the Beilby family. In Georgian times a tower and dome were added to the house. The house was purchased in 1831 by Colonel Robert Gunter upon returning from the Crimean war. At the heart of a time when a culmination events saw many country houses demolished due to their high up keep costs, Wetherby Grange was too. The house was demolished in 1962 after it had fallen into disrepair. Local legend says it was used during WW II to store heavy rubber. The weight apparently weakened the structure. The house is now the site of the Grange Park sports park.

Sir Robert Gunter, 1st Baronet (1831- 1905) was a British army officer, property developer and Conservative Party politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1885 to 1905. Gunter was the son of Robert Gunter of Earl’s Court, London and his wife Fanny Thompson, daughter of E. Thompson of Durham. His grandfather James Gunter was a confectioner of Gunter’s Tea Shop whose purchases led to the development of some 60 acres of land in West London. Gunter was educated at Rugby School and joined the 4th Dragoon Guards. He served in the Crimean War and became captain. After the death of their father in 1852 Gunter and his brother James developed the Redcliffe Estate area, giving their name not just to “Gunter Grove”, but to many other streets in the area.

Sir Robert bought Wetherby Grange and moved in on his return from the Crimea. He was a landowner, breeder of Shorthorn cattle and President of Wetherby Agricultural Society. The 1871 Census lists the occupants of Wetherby Grange as Robert Gunter, his wife and 4 daughters plus 22 live-in servants. He was a J.P. for the West Riding of Yorkshire, and Lieutenant-Colonel commanding the 3rd Battalion Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment). Gunter was elected was Member of Parliament (MP) for Knaresborough in the West Riding of Yorkshire at a by-election in 1884 following the death of the sitting MP Thomas Collins. The Knaresborough constituency was abolished in the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 . In the 1885 general election, Robert Gunter was elected MP for the new Barkston Ash constituency. He represented the constituency until his death in 1905 at the age of 73. He was granted the dignity of a baronet 18 April 1901, of Wetherby Grange, in the parish of Collingham, in the county of Yorkshire. Gunter married Jane Marguerite Benyon, daughter of Thomas Benyon of Gledhow Hall, Yorkshire in 1862. “Edith Grove” is named after their daughter, Edith, who died of scarlet fever aged eight.

The gateway of Wetherby Grange stands beside the A58 roundabout to the south of the town and is all that now remains of the estate.

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