Thomas Skarratt Hall

Thomas Skarratt Hall was a poor English boy who emigrated to Australia in 1854. There, he married and had three sons. Having made his fortune in the gold mines he decided to retire and return to this country to complete their education.

He bought a house in London but his social aspirations required a country estate. The rather rundown Weeting Hall estate was for sale, so Thomas bought and began to renovate and improve the much neglected house. Unfortunately he became ill and died in 1903 before he could occupy the house. However his wife Mary and her three sons lived there for fourteen years. Mary Hall was respected and liked by the people on the estate, she and her sons became involved in all the parish activities. Many improvements were made to the house and grounds during their tenure. A new stable block was built together with two houses, designed by the eminent Norwich architect Edward Boardman.

With all her sons serving in the First World War, Mary decided to put the estate up for sale. The property was consigned for sale by auction through Knight, Frank and Rutley on the 26th June 1917 at their offices in Hanover Square, London. The estate consisted of a splendid mansion, farms and cottages, all set among 5,900 acres. Much of the land was covered in mature trees, woods and plantations. Although it was an attractive estate, it was a bad time to sell big country houses. The country was at war, many of the sons of the upper classes had been killed and the Edwardian period as a time of Empire, in a land of plenty, had long past. It is doubtful if the Weeting estate would have sold at all, if it had not contained large amounts of timber. The war was consuming huge quantities of timber, the demand way outstripped the available supply and people like James Calder were scouring the country for trees to satisfy the demand. He bought the Weeting Estate prior to the auction.

© Gerry Moore 2004