Calton Hall is in the village of Calton which nestles in the Yorkshire Dales near to Kirkby Malham. Tourists from overseas will find it typical of so many beautiful English villages, with the added advantage (if they are Lamberts) that this was for many years the Lambert ‘seat of power’.
Many of the ancient house of Calton could tell an interesting story, but none as well as Calton Hall. The most famous of the many Lamberts that have lived there is Major General John Lambert, or Lord Lambert as he is sometimes called. By the middle of the 17th Century, John’s name was known and respected through out the land as Oliver Cromwell’s second in command. It has been suggested, that the Lamberts had quarrelled with the church and this is why he supported a man so different to himself as Cromwell. The reason why will probably never be known now, but with him John found wealth and much power, before being betrayed and imprisoned in the Tower of London (from which he escaped).
Calton Hall was apparently burned down and rebuilt during the time the Major's son lived there. The land around the hall today has been divide up, but is otherwise much as it was then (see pictures). It is located a short walk uphill from the lovely Airton Bridge, with is crystal clear, cascading river and wide, grass covered banks.
The near by church of St Michael the Archangel in Kirby Malham celebrated its 500th Anniversary in 1990. Known as The Cathedral of the Dales it contains many items relating to the Lambert family as well as a Chapel in memory of the Lamberts it is the building shown closest in this drawing. Here is also a Mural Monument to John Lambert (died 1701) son of Major John, which says "being the last heir male in whom the ancient family of Lambert in a line from William the Conqueror is now extinct". John did have 3 sons (and one daughter) but the boys all died before he did, making him the last of that particular line. However it certainly was not as stated the extinction of the line, because Johns half brothers had mail descendent of which I am one.
I have below reproduced some extracts from the History and Antiquities of the Deanery of Craven, first published in 1878. This is somewhat hard to read with today's English, but it gives a flavour of the time.
Calton consisted entirely of abbey land, and was shared between the houses of Fountains, Dereham, and Bolton, the last of which had the manor. Of the portion given to Fountains Abbey we learn the following particulars from a vellum roll formerly belonging to that house, and afterwards to the Lamberts.
Alan de Calton had two sons, Hugh and Richard, the last of whom had a daughter Alice. The two former gave to monks of Fountains two carucates of land in Calton, together with three oxgangs in Ayrton, and a moiety of the mill. This was confirmed by Richard and by magister Joh. De Hamerton, as next of kin to Alice his daughter. All these donations were also confirmed by Richard I. in AD 1200. Portions of these lands were acquired by John Lambert, on the dissolution of the religious houses; in consequence of which he held, at the time of his death, the manor of the Calton and six carucates of land, four of the castle of Skipton, and two of the heirs of Cantilupe. John Lambert whose name occurs so frequently in the history of Kirkby Manghdale, was born to the inheritance of a small estate at Skipton, and bred to the law.
He was Vice-Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, steward of the courts of the Prior of Bolton, and in favour with the commissioners for the dissolution of the religious houses. Of this connection he availed himself so far as to anticipate the Earl of Cumberland himself, and to acquire, excepting a moiety of Malham, almost all the lands in this extensive parish which had been held by the monks. The village Calton however, is chiefly memorable for the origin of his great-grandson, who, though well born, well bred, little tinctured with fanaticism, of a competent fortune, an excellent understanding, and even an elegant taste, by an inconsistency too common in human nature, addicted himself to the cause of rebellion, and bore, perhaps, a deeper part in the miseries of that unhappy period than any single person, Cromwell only excepted. This was Major-General Lambert.
The history of this distinguished man is repeated else where; let it suffice to say that, after the Restoration, the decent and respectable behaviour which he maintained at his trial procured for him the mild sentence of perpetual exile to Guernsey, where he amused himself with the quiet occupation of gardening, and died forgotten almost thirty years after. His forfeited estates were granted to Lord Fauconberg, and by him restored to the family. His son was a man of taste and elegance, who painted, and very well for a gentleman, several portraits of the Thanet family, lately remaining in Skipton Castle, and some others now remaining at Gisburne Park.
The following particulars relating to John Lambert, Esq, the son, were procured from an old servant of the family, who died at Marton in 1769, in her 91st or 92nd year. After the family estates in Craven had been re-purchased from Lord Fauconberg, he resided at Calton Hall, then a very large old building, which was in his lifetime burnt to the ground, and replaced by the plain hall-like mansion still remaining to day. His principal amusement was portrait-painting, and he kept a deaf and dumb man to grind his colours. Mr Lambert was a conscientious member of the Church of England, and regularly attended Kirkby Church.