Lotherton Hall is an historic house, mainly of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. It was formerly the home of the Gascoigne family who gave it to the City of Leeds in 1968. It came into public ownership fully furnished with the family collection of paintings, sculpture, silver, jewellery, furniture and ceramics. These comprise the Gascoigne Gift which comprises something over 900 items, including objects which the family had already given to the City when the main gift was made. The gifts continued up to the bequest of Lady Gascoigne in 1979, she being the last member of the family to live in the house.
Lotherton was established as a museum of art from 1800 to the present day, while Temple Newsam tells the same story from 1500-1800. Further development of the collections was made possible by the Gascoigne Endowment Fund, which was given by the family for the enhancement of the collections. Notable acquisitions have been the Sanderson collection of historic costume, and the Savery bequest of Oriental ceramics plus purchases of Victorian furniture and Regency porcelain. Family items seen as not being of museum quality were sold or returned to the family to make way for new acquisitions which now included modern and contemporary British craft and fashion, complementing the modern fine art at Leeds Art Gallery and the historic Sanderson items. The City already owned a few pieces of modern ceramic; to these more were added, together with furniture, metalwork, jewellery and flat textiles.
By this process the collections multiplied roughly fourfold to more than 3,600 items. A fifth strand to Lotherton’s collecting became possible from 1994 onwards with the loan of 78 items from the Cooper collection of Victoriana and Edwardiana, particularly high-art furniture most of which is shown at Lotherton.
In recent years, new emphasis has been given to the social history of the house, It has meant a new determination to acquire items with a Gascoigne family provenance, this being taken to include the families with whom they intermarried.