The hall stands at the North end of Thornton Watlass village in a large park, which is now farmed, and a garden area of about four and a half acres. It consists of a main block on the South side, with wings running North on the East and West sides. It is built of stone from various sources, with the walls about 3ft thick. The villages of Thornton and Watlass, once separated, were mentioned in the Doomsday Book in 1086, Thornton then being owned by Ribald who was mesne lord under his brother, Alan, Earl of Richmond. Before the Conquest the Saxon owners were Ulward and Stan, who most likely had a house on this site. In 1286, Peter de Thoresby held the land and his descent led to Agnus Clarvaulx, nee Thoresby, who owned most of the present estate and married her second husband, Thomas Dodsworth in 1415, from whom the present family are directly descended. There has been a house on the site for all this time, being altered and renovated over the centuries so that nothing of the original house remains. The present house is essentially Georgian, although the shape of the front of the house, with short projecting wings and gables, is basically Elizabethan. Between 1723 and 1727 very extensive renovations were carried out. Apparently the front of the older house had four gables, but two were removed, and the interior almost completely restored in the Georgian fashion. However, the Drawing Room represents the centre of the Elizabethan Hall, which extended up to this level before the lower 18th century ceilings were put in. The fireplace in the Drawing Room is also of this period, although the stones at the back of the fire are modern. The windows, inner doors, surrounds and ceiling beams are early Georgian, but three rooms are walled with Jacobean oak panelling, most likely from the original house and altered to fit the present rooms. Two are now painted, but one has been stripped back to the original wood, which was done in about 1976 by Mr W Auton of Thornton Watlass, over a two year period. There are several large open fireplaces downstairs, the one in the Drawing Room being the largest. There is an extensive library with books on many subjects, having been collected by members of the family for the last 400 years, a few going back to the 16th century. The main staircase is more recent, being erected in the 1870's. The balustrades were originally altar rails in West Tanfield church, near Ripon, and the carving on the newels and the landing were done by Francis Wrighton, gamekeeper to Sir Charles Edward Smith-Dodsworth in 1873. The coat of arms on the landing represents the arms of Dodsworth, Smith, Thoresby and Blayney. The rest of the house is newer than the main block. The West Wing was built in about 1780 and consists of guest bedrooms above and offices and the Billiard Room below. The East wing beyond the kitchen, consisting of old servant's bedrooms and the old housekeeper's room and meat larders, were added in about 1800, with the old laundry about 1820. A leaded window in the laundry passage may be Tudor but has come from somewhere else, as has the decorative stonework at the end of the East wing. These may have come from the old Elizabethan house. Sir Charles erected the family crests, set in the Dutch gable of the West wing, in about 1870, the one on the left being Dodsworth and the right one being Smith. Two pillars on the carriage sweep were originally from the front gates of Newlands Park, near Wakefield, which was, for a long time, the family seat of the Smiths. Lady Blanche, widow of Sir Charles, erected the low wall with stone lions, at the rear of the house in about 1900. There is quite a large stable yard to the east of the house with the stable on the south side dating back to the 17th century and now partly converted to cottages. The loose boxes on the north side are more recent, about 1800. One of them, with mounting block outside, is still known as St. Patrick's loose box after a racehorse owned by Sir Edward Dodsworth in 1820 and winner of the St Leger and several other major races. Sir John Smith-Dodsworth, Bt June 1987 The Hall West Elevation from the Fountain