Wood Hall’s first Norman possessor was Malgar Le Vavasour, and for several hundred years it was the home of the Vavasour family and their descendants.
An old record reads “The brethren of the Temple have, in Wetherby, three carucates of land of William de Denby de Wodenhalle, son of Robert de Wodenhalle of the fee of Percy, a carucate of land half the gift of this said William. Having acquired Wetherby from Robert, son of William de Denby”.
The mansion was originally situated right on the banks of the River Wharfe, which flows through the hotel grounds. During the Civil War, Cromwell’s army destroyed the buildings and threw the stone work into the river. It was only during this century that some of the stonework was recovered and the York coat of arms can be seen as decoration in the front hall of the hotel.
The present building was erected in 1750, designed by the famous Yorkshire architect John Carr, when it passed into the hands of the Scott family of Scott Hall, Leeds, who owned Sicklinghall: hence the village pub The Scott’s Arms. It was kept in the family until 1911 and remained a family home until 1935 when it became a boys’ prep school. A number of well-known Yorkshire families sent their sons to the school including Sir Len Hutton, the Yorkshire and England cricketer.
In 1966, Wood Hall was purchased by the diocese of Leeds with 190 acres of land, to become the first pastoral and ecumenical centre in Britain. It counted among its first visitors Mother Teresa of Calcutta. A Carmelite monastery is now situated to the rear of the hotel and residents may worship there if they so wish.
Some of the cottages were built in the reign of James 1st. The present dining room in the Jacobean wing was formerly part of the out-house on the Vavasour estate and dates back to that period. Also in the house can be seen some magnificent oak panels.
Much later, Wood Hall played host to Vietnamese boat people arriving in the UK after the Vietnam War. In 1988, it was converted to a hotel.
Since the opening of the hotel, the courtyard wing has replaced the stables and outbuildings to the west of the main house. In 1992 a further wing to the east was added to incorporate spa facilities.