Cannon Hall sits in 70 acres of historic parkland looking towards the village of Cawthorne, to the west of Barnsley.
A significant building was originally owned on the site in the 13th century by Gilbert Canun. It passed to the Bosville family in the following century and grew in importance and status. In 1650 Sir William Hewitt sold a manor, farm, land and ‘capital messuage named Cannon Hall’ to Robert Hartley for £2,900 – a considerable sum. A few years later it was purchased by John Spencer.
For almost 300 years Cannon Hall was home to the Spencer-Stanhope family who made their fortunes in the local iron industry.
In the 20 years from 1765 over £30,000 was spent on making major improvements to the Hall. Two single storey wings were added modelled on the ends of the old Hall. The rooms in the central section were remodelled in 1778 and the second stories to the two wings added in 1803-4. Final major additions to the house came in the late 19th century; they included the ballroom which was finished in 1891 and the Victorian Kitchens and Servants Quarters which were also built around this time, all of which survive intact.
From 1757 some of the best surveyors, landscapists and gardeners were hired to create a spectacular setting for the Hall, much of which remains today.
Cannon Hall was almost empty when it was sold, along with the Park and Gardens, in 1951 to Barnsley Corporation by the Spencer-Stanhope family. The Halls first curator had the enviable task of creating a collection of fine and decorative art from scratch. His aim, and that which has driven Cannon Hall’s curators ever since was to display wonderful collections for the public’s enlightenment and enjoyment. In 1957 the hall opened as a museum.