Beningbrough Hall

Beningbrough1

Beningbrough was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Benniburg and was owned by a man named Asford. Much of the land passed to the Hospital of St Leonard, a religious foundation run by monks, during the 12th and 13th centuries. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, St Leonard’s Hospital and its land were surrendered to King Henry VIII. In 1544 the land was sold to John Banester and in 1556, his nephew Ralph Bourchier inherited the estate. Ralph began building a house on a site approximately 300 metres south-east of the present hall and recent surveys suggest that it had a timber frame with fine panelled interiors – some of which were reused in the present hall (Alton, 2011). The building passed down a line of Bourchiers and was eventually inherited by John Bourchier in 1700, aged just 16. The present hall was completed in 1716 and rises out of the flood plain of the River Ouse.

Beningbrough4

In 1704 John Bourchier embarked on a Grand Tour of Europe and spending almost two years in Italy, he absorbed the Italianate Baroque architectural style into his plans for a new house at Beningbrough. The command of the classical Renaissance vocabulary that Bourchier admired in Europe played a major role in the planning of the hall and although the building is constructed in the English tradition of brick, much of the exterior detailing is derived from Roman sources. Like Bourchier, many gentlemen scholars undertook Grand Tours as part of the 17th century tradition of the virtuoso. Referred to by Francis Bacon in 1605 as those who “entered into a desire of learning and knowledge, sometimes upon a natural curiosity and inquisitive appetite; sometimes to entertain their minds with variety and delight; sometimes for ornament and reputation”, these men did not receive any formal training in building design. The highly acclaimed English Baroque architect Sir Christopher Wren taught himself “when he turned to architecture” (Downes, 1971). The grammar of the Renaissance was initially learned from the treatises of Alberti and Vitruvius and the illustrated books of Serlio, Palladio, Vignola and Scamozzi with practical experience gained under a great master. Following his grand tour in 1754 and his study of the Baths of Diocletian and Caracalla, the architect Robert Adam declared in his Ruins of Spalatro that “with sword in hand… and reflections on the subject I must own they contributed very much to the improvement of my taste and enlarged my notions of architecture” (Adam, 1757). Essentially public architecture, the baroque country house was almost always built for the gentry or aristocracy. With eternal ideas deriving from antiquity and the desire to emulate their elegance and purity of a better age (Tinniswood, 1991), the 18th century classicists agreed that the buildings of the ancients should “serve as models which we should imitate, and as standards by which we ought to judge” (Adam, 1774).

Beningbrough16

The top of a pilaster (Great Hall)

Little is known about the building history of Beningbrough but it is believed that William Thornton, a “joyner and architect” (Tinniswood, 1991) supervised the construction of the hall. Thornton is described as Bourchier’s architect in a list of Yorkshire houses contained in a copy of The Builder’s Dictionary of 1734. Thornton worked at Bramham Park, Wentworth Castle and under Nicholas Hawksmoor at Castle Howard and on the restoration of Beverley Minster. Working to the designs of Bourchier, Beningbrough is a two storey building of double-pile plan and constructed of red brick in Flemish bond with ashlar dressings and cumberland slate roof. The symmetrical facade features a central entrance bay with Doric pilasters supporting an entablature with cornice.

Beningbrough18

Solid York stone pilasters (Great Hall)

The Great Hall is a fantastic display of splendour with imposing fluted composite pilasters gracing the double height room that soar to the groined vaults above balconied openings. Resembling the classical grandeur of Baroque palaces in Italy, the Great Hall connects a lot of the ground floor rooms and not only designed to impress, it was used to serve as a busy circulating space. The room is lavishly adorned with monumental portraits of 18th century British monarchs which come from the National Portrait Gallery’s collection. The National Trust acquired Beningbrough in 1958 and when conservators stripped back paint on the plinths supporting the pilasters, they discovered that they were made from solid York stone. The creamy white colour of the stone is what the pilasters have been redecorated with and at the same time, the floor was re-laid with smooth flagstones, as it had originally been (Alton,2011). Often decorating the entrance halls of Roman villas, sculpted portraits also feature at Beningbrough. The impressive bust of Pope Clement XIV (below) is above the fireplace in the Great Hall and was carved in Rome in 1771 by the Irish sculptor Christopher Hewetson. When Mrs Earle, owner of Beningbrough during the 18th century, became pregnant, Pope Clement gave her special permission to stay in a convent during her time in Rome in 1770-1771.

Beningbrough5

Bust of Pope Clement XIV above the fireplace in the Great Hall

Providing a link between the Great Hall and the original state apartment (now the Drawing Room) on the ground floor and the Saloon on the first floor, the Great Staircase Hall (below) displays particularly fine craftsmanship. Reserved exclusively for the owners and their guests, the cantilevered wooden staircase would have been climbed in formal procession on special occasions. To the left of the Great Staircase is a small door which opens onto another tiny set of stairs which run alongside their much grander counterpart and were used by the servants. The intricate fretwork of the banister appears to be elaborate wrought-iron work but the spindles are in fact carved in wood – likely to have been crafted by William Thornton, the chief craftsman and master woodworker.

Beningbrough6

The Great Staircase Hall

The last in the Bourchier line to hold Beningbrough was Margaret Bourchier. Margaret married Giles Earle in 1761 and they had two sons. Following the death of both sons fighting in the war against Napoleon, when Margaret Earle passed away in 1827 Beningbrough passed to reverend William Henry Dawnay, a close friend of one of her sons. The estate was owned by the Dawnay family between 1827 and 1916 (Alton, 2011).

Beningbrough17

Ground floor corridor

The State Apartment and State Dressing Room (below) are on the ground floor adjoining the Dining Room. The original form of the state apartment was lost with the creation of the current Drawing Room so the National Trust has re-created the State Apartment in the south-east part of this floor. The intimate Dressing Room and Closet would have been reserved for use by the occupant of the State Bedchamber with only close friends permitted to enter. These smaller rooms would have provided a cosy retreat to escape the biting cold of the larger rooms during the winter. Kings would have met with their key ministers and advisors in their own closets, also known as cabinet rooms, and is where the origin of the political word cabinet stems. The stepped chimneypiece was specifically designed to display ceramics. Oriental porcelain was the fashion from the late 17th century and the room displays some fine pieces of Delftware on loan from the Ashmolean and Victoria and Albert museums.

Beningbrough15

Chimneypiece State Dressing Room

The fabulous Dining Room (below) was originally referred to as the Great Parlour during the mid 18th century and was the main dining room by the 19th century. Rather than hung with fabric, the walls are of panelled wood and although they are painted a pale green colour, the original decor would have been a stony white colour. Inspired by the colours found at Boughton in Northamptonshire, the National Trust chose the current scheme as an ideal colour to complement the gold framed portraits. The walls are ornately covered with portraits of members of the Kit Cat Club. Sharing a commitment to uphold the “Glorious Revolution” (Alton, 2011), Whig politicians founded the most distinguished and influential club of its day – the Kit Cat Club. Meeting regularly in a London tavern, the club took its name from the mutton pies that were served up by the owner of the tavern, Christopher Cat. The custom of presenting a portrait to the club’s secretary, the publisher Jacob Tonson, was introduced by the Duke of Somerset. Sir Godfrey Kneller was an artist and member of the Kit Cat Club and during the first two decades of the 18th century, he painted nearly 40 club portraits. Almost half of Kneller’s Kit Cat portraits are on display at Beningbrough with the remainder at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

‘Hence did th’Assembly’s Title first arise, And Kit Cat Wits sprung from Kit-Cats Pyes’ (The Kit-Cats, A Poem, anon 1708).

Beningbrough11

The Dining Room

The Drawing Room (below) is next to the Dining Room and was originally two separate spaces – a bedroom and a withdrawing room that formed part of a state apartment. The dividing wall was likely to have been removed during the 1830’s when the fashion for ground floor bedrooms was superseded by a greater need for large reception rooms. The room features an exquisitely carved wooden frieze depicting shells, vases and palm fronds that is intricately detailed with the initials JMB which stand for John and Mary Bourchier, who the house was originally built for. The magnificent woodcarvings and panelling were moved around during 19th century alterations and again after 1917 when Lady Chesterfield had the woodwork stripped of paint to reveal the pine beneath. Thought to be original features and depicting members of the Bourchier family, some of the portraits in this room were actually bought by the Dawnays in the 1890’s (Alton, 2011).

Beningbrough14

The Drawing Room

Originally referred to as the Great Dining Room, the Saloon (below) would have been used for large parties, county balls, family celebrations and banquets. This grand room features gilded pilasters, decorative dentils and a coffered ceiling. Allowing space for celebrations, the Saloon was kept uncluttered with chairs pushed to the edges of the room. There are two 18th century mirrors in this room that come from Holme Lacy. To prevent deterioration, the mirrors were carefully cleaned and treated in 2009 as part of the ongoing conservation work by the National Trust. The elaborate Italianate decoration in the room is another example of William Thornton’s skilful wood craftsmanship and not, as it appears, moulded in plaster.

Beningbrough12

The Saloon

Enid Edith Wilson was a wealthy shipping heiress and became Lady Chesterfield following her marriage to Edwyn Francis Scudamore-Stanhope, 10th Earl of Chesterfield, in 1900. The Chesterfield’s furnished Beningbrough with lavish furniture and pictures from Holme Lacy, in Herefordshire, where they lived until 1909. They finally came to Beningbrough in 1917 and completely redecorated the house. Lord Chesterfield died in 1933 and making way for servicemen from nearby RAF Linton On Ouse, Lady Chesterfield temporarily moved to Home Farm in 1941. She returned after the war in 1947 and remained at Beningbrough until her death in 1957 aged 79. As there were not enough assets to cover the death duties, Beningbrough was offered to the Treasury and in June 1958, it was acquired by the National Trust. Lady Chesterfield transformed her closet into a luxurious modern bathroom (below) in the 1920’s. A very extravagant touch are the taps above the bath which can be shut away in their own cupboards to create a more finished look to the room.

Beningbrough10

Lady Chesterfield’s Bathroom

On the top floor of the building are galleries (below) that combine the National Portrait Gallery’s 18th century collections with interactive technology. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the galleries are the result of collaboration between the National Trust and the National Portrait Gallery who have been in partnership at Beningbrough Hall since 1979. Hosting a vibrant programme of touring exhibitions and long term loans, this Baroque mansion is an appropriate historical setting to display the fine 18th century portraits. Launching a new initiative in 2006, the Gallery and the Trust refurbished and restored the rooms on this floor and opened the galleries to the public for the first time. Bringing the 18th century portraits and sculptures to life, the interactive galleries are home to Making Faces – 18th Century Style, Visiting Portraits, Portrait Explorer, Family Matters, Portraits Tell Stories, Getting the Picture and Turning Heads exhibitions. The touch-screen computers in the IT study room on this floor enable visitors to search the entire National Portrait Gallery Collection. The ‘Virtual Portrait’ computer in the Getting the Picture room lets you commission your own 18th century style portrait which can even be emailed home. The new very definitely meets the old on this floor!

Beningbrough8

Top floor galleries

Most of the trees in the parkland at Beningbrough were planted between 1830 and 1870. The Head Gardener at this time was Thomas Foster and he was responsible for over 300 acres of parkland as well as the gardens. The various owners at Beningbrough have all left their traces on the landscape surrounding the house. Lewis Payn Dawnay, who inherited Beningbrough in 1891, planted 11,000 trees, extended the lawn to the south and replanted the north avenue with broadleaved lime trees. The accomplished artist and watercolourist William Sawrey Gilpin was hired by the Dawnay family to advise on the landscaping of the parkland. His influence on many areas of the parkland was extensive and thankfully, his sketches and notes have survived at Beningbrough. Restoration of Beningbrough began in 1977 and the National Trust redesigned the two small formal gardens, the Walled Garden and continued to develop a range of new planting schemes. The gardens are overlooked by the Victorian Conservatory (below) and feature an Italian Border which was recently replanted to reflect John Bourchier’s Italian interests. The South Lawn was inspired by a sketch dating to 1720 by the 18th century printmaker and engraver Samuel Buck which shows how the gardens might have looked at the time.

Beningbrough7

The Stable Block (below) is now home to offices and a display area. Built in the 18th century for the Bourchier’s, and with 19th century additional wings built for the Dawnay’s, the stables are constructed of brick with stone dressing. The Stable Block main range features a central pediment with a sundial adorning the tympanum and a cast-iron mind vane above. The central three bays project forward and feature a round arched arcade with three windows above. The Latin inscription over the sundial had faded when the National Trust acquired Beningbrough and was only discovered in an old photograph. Having been repainted it reads TEMPUS EDAX which means time is voracious. The Stable Block is Grade II Listed.

Beningbrough9

The Stable Block

The Walled Garden was restored by the National Trust in 1995 and included the recreation of the original paths and the planting of over 120 fruit trees. Among the varieties planted were those known to have grown in the York area during the early 19th century. One of the most famous varieties is the Ribston Pippin which was a Victorian favourite and first grown at Ribston Hall near Knaresborough. The beautiful parkland surrounding Beningbrough is a wonderful landscape and well worth exploring.

Beningbrough2

The primary status of architecture over the other fine arts is evident when 18th century Britain is compared to 16th century Italy. Seen as the consequence of a widespread improvement in taste and the awakening of a ‘national genius’, the progress in Britain was considered the result of “the study of what is elegant and beautiful, sensibility, discernment, and a correctness of eye… The genius of native artists has been called forth into new and laudible exertions” (Bryant, 1992).

Taken from Tract I by Christopher Wren:

“There are natural Causes of Beauty. Beauty is harmony of Objects, begetting Pleasure by the Eye. Natural beauty is from geometry, and geometrical figures are universally agreed ‘as to a Law of Nature’ to be the most beautiful.”

Beningbrough Hall is Grade I Listed.

Beningbrough3

Advertisements

Sizergh Castle: Banqueting Hall

SizerghBH1

On the second floor of the tower at Sizergh Castle is the Banqueting Hall. In medieval times, this was the solar chamber and is entered from a spiral staircase. The staircase provided the only access until alterations in the 19th century when a doorway was cut through from the Top Passage. The room is lit by a deep set 14th century three light window which overlooks the courtyard.

SizerghBH3

The Hall features a 16th century fireplace and adze-hewn oak floorboards. The removal of the floor above was part of the 19th century alterations which were inspired by the fashion for romantic medievalism, creating a highly theatrical interior. During the late 19th century and early 20th century, the ashlar stonework walls were painted with trompe-l’oeil and hung with armour and trophies of weapons in a true baronial style.

SizerghBH2

In 1948 Henry Hornyold-Strickland made a gallery (below) around all four sides of the upper storey using timber salvaged from a 16th century barn which had collapsed in 1945.

SizerghBH4

Against the early 17th century long-table are two sets of Elizabethan forms, or benches, the sides of which are carved to imitate loosely the hanging edge of a hide covering. One set (below) has the initials of Walter Strickland and the date 1562 while the other may be slightly later and made to match. Chairs with arms were comparatively rare during the mid 16th century and an inventory dated 1569 records only nine in the whole house. Four panel-back armchairs (as seen next to the fireplace in top photos) with flat topped arms are dated 1570 and 1571 and have lozenge panels which match those in the Old Dining Room.

SizerghBH5

The late 17th century Brussels tapestry (top) portrays the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius reproving his wife Faustina for her profligate living. This wonderful room is furnished with beautiful Elizabethan and Georgian pieces that highlight superb craftsmanship.

SizerghBH6

Fordhouses: Moseley Old Hall

Moseley8

Adjacent to the border of Staffordshire, in the suburb of Fordhouses on the outskirts of Wolverhampton, is the charming half-timbered Moseley Old Hall. Thought likely to date to 1600, the Hall was built by Henry Pitt of Bushbury, a merchant of the staple who had purchased the estate in 1583 from a Codsall family. On his death in 1602, it was inherited by his daughter Alice who subsequently married Thomas Whitgreave of Bridgeford, Staffordshire. Moseley Old Hall and estate then passed by direct descent in the Whitgreave line until its sale in 1925. In the late 19th century, the Hall’s dilapidated state seems to have been the cause of the change of name to Moseley Old Hall – in 1600 it was referred to as Mr Pitt’s new Hall at Moseley.

Moseley9

Until 1870 there appears to have been little structural alteration to the building. The outer walls were rebuilt at this time and the Elizabethan windows were replaced by casements. Much of the original panelling and timber framing within the house still remains and is clearly visible throughout. Despite falling into disrepair and seriously affected by mining subsidence, the Hall remained in use as a farmhouse until the estate was sold in 1925. In 1940 it was acquired by Will Wiggin of Bloxwich but his efforts to repair the building were interrupted by wartime restrictions and were not completed at the time of his death. The Wiggin family transferred the Hall and one acre of land to the National Trust in 1962 and they opened the building to the public in 1963.

Moseley10

After his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, Charles II was on the run for 41 days with a price of £1000 on his head. On the morning of 8th September of the same year, the King arrived at the back door of Moseley Old Hall disguised in rough woodman’s clothes. Thomas Whitgreave and his priest, Father Huddleston, greeted the King and welcomed him inside. Whitgreave was a Catholic and his mother Alice, who was also in the house, had suffered heavy fines for their faith from the Parliamentary authorities. The King was found a safe hiding place in one of Moseley’s priest holes. By the time he left Moseley two days later, the King had devised a practical plan of escape to France. Those who had helped the King lived in fear of execution for the next eight and a half years until Charles was restored to the throne in 1660. The King dictated his own account of the dramatic six weeks of 1651 to Samuel Pepys in 1680. Thomas Whitgreave became known in the family as ‘the Preserver’ and he described the events at Moseley in a manuscript. The original manuscript still belongs to his descendants but has been reproduced, along with many other versions of the story, in the exhibition about Charles Ii in the Dressing Room.

Moseley2

The Ante Room walls display five 17th century prints of the Stations of the Cross by Nicholas de Bruyn. Also known as Way of Sorrows or Via Crucis, the Stations of the Cross are a series of images that commemorate Jesus on the day of his crucifixion. The room has exposed timbers, uncovered wooden floor and fireplace.

Moseley1

The corridor on the first floor (above) was constructed in the 19th century to give privacy to the bedroom from which it was divided. The walls display collections of contemporary engravings which depict people and events connected with the King’s flight. Also on display are various Acts and Ordnances issued by the Commonwealth of England, including a document that dates to September 1651 offering a reward of £1000 for the capture of ‘Charls Stuart Traytor’.

Moseley5

The Bedroom on the second floor has a large oak bedstead which has rope springing to support a straw palliasse or mattress. Similar bedrooms of the period would only contain a bed and possibly a chest to hold clothing.

Moseley6

The Chapel (above), or Oratory, was originally open to the rafters. The barrel-vaulted ceiling was added following the Relieving Act of 1791 which allowed Catholics greater freedom of worship. The blue and gold star decoration above the altar was executed following the issue of a licence for the Chapel on 14th July 1791. The room was regularly used for services until the 20th century. The Whitgreave crucifix was made in Spain and the room features two carved Yorkshire/Derbyshire chairs.

Moseley11

The Attic contains much of the original timber framing and the facing wall has an infilling of wattle and daub. The garret is the room in which Huddleston’s three pupils kept watch during Charles visit to Moseley. The adjoining section of the attic is a small hiding place, next to a chute to the Brewhouse on the ground floor. The brewing ingredients were stored here, under the roof, to keep them dry until required for use.

Moseley3

One of the principle features of the garden at Moseley Old Hall is the Knot Garden. A knot, as it was developed in Tudor times, was a small, usually rectangular, bed upon which was outlined a pattern. The Moseley Knot is worked in the living green of dwarf plants with spaces filled with coloured gravels. The garden follows one of five designs laid out by the Rev. Walter Stonehouse, Rector of Darfield in Yorkshire in 1640.

Moseley Old Hall is Grade II* Listed.

Kendal: Levens Hall

Levens2

Located in the Kent Valley near Kendal is the estate of Levens Hall. The largest Elizabethan house in Westmorland or Cumberland, Levens Hall is still privately owned and is at the heart of a thriving agricultural estate which provides resources both to maintain the house and to ensure the fabric of rural life remains intact. The earliest parts of the building are the medieval Pele Tower and the Hall which date to between 1250-1300 and were constructed by the de Redman family of Yealand Redmayne. A Charter from William de Lancaster, in circa 1170, gave Norman de Heiland (or Yealand) land at Levens but reserved the fishing, hawking and hunting of buck and doe, boar and sow for himself. Norman de Hieland later became known as de Redman and while there may have been a house at Levens at the time of the Charter to Norman de Redman, the medieval core which forms the centre of the present building is the remains of the Pele Tower and attached Hall range. The de Redman family held Levens until 1578 with Sir Richard III, who died in 1544, the last to live at the estate.

Levens1

Possession passed to James Bellingham in circa 1580. Incorporating the fortified tower, Bellingham completely refurbished the old house and added all available comforts. These included a separate dining room and servants hall, drawing rooms and built-in kitchens. All rooms were panelled using local oak or hung with tapestry and brilliant plasterwork gave them colour. The Great Hall stands with its staircase tower and the base of the Pele all facing the river and the ford. Constructed of limestone rubble with sandstone dressings, the north front features an embattled tower with mullioned and transomed windows.

Levens6

James Bellingham’s great-grandson Alan was to lose the whole estate through gambling. In 1686 he put his affairs in the hands of trustees and in 1689, they sold his Westmorland lands to his kinsman Colonel James Grahme. Colonel Grahme was Keeper of the Privy Purse and Keeper of the Buckhounds to King James II. Grahme accompanied the King to Rochester on 18th December 1688 during the Glorious Revolution when the King was overthrown by a union of English Parliamentarians with William III of Orange-Nassau (William of Orange). Following the Revolution, Grahme lived at Levens with his wife and added two wings running south and west for kitchens, menservants bedrooms and a Brewhouse. After Grahme’s death in 1730, the Levens estate passed to Henry Bowes Howard.

Levens3

South elevation service wing and Howard Tower

The south elevation service wing (above) dates to circa 1700 and features mullion and transom cross windows which are surmounted by a square domed clock-tower with gilded ball finial. The Howard Tower was built in 1820 to connect the Elizabethan part of the house with the later south wing.

Levens7

North elevation

The gardens were designed for Colonel Grahme in 1694 by Guillaume Beaumont, a pupil of le Notre at Versailles. Beaumont had been gardener to King James II and worked at Hampton Court Palace gardens. Of his garden and designs, only Levens survives today and the topiary garden is the oldest in the world. The original garden plan includes a rose garden, an orchard, a nuttery, a herb garden, vegetable borders, a beech hedge walk, herbaceous borders and a bowling green.

Levens4

Levens Hall is Grade I Listed and the gardens are considered to be of national importance.

Levens5

Grange Over Sands: Holker Hall

Holker3

Holker Estate stands within the stunning landscape of South Lakeland and encompasses a large area of the Cartmel Peninsula. While Holker’s Norse origins may be lost in the mists of time, the earliest records of a house on the present site date back to the early 16th century. The estate formed part of the holdings of Cartmel Priory until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536 after which, it was purchased by the Preston family who were already substantial local landowners. George Preston established his family at Holker in about 1610 and the current building dates to the early 18th century with various extensions and alterations.

Holker2

Lord George Augustus Cavendish inherited Holker in 1756 and engaged the architect John Carr of York. Carr made additions in an elegant modern gothic style to the east and north wings between 1783-1793 and also made extensive alterations to the grounds by replacing the Dutch gardens with a contrived natural landscape. Further alterations were carried out in 1818 by Lord George Augustus Henry Cavendish who faced the front of the house with Roman cement. Between 1838-1842 Lord Burlington (7th Duke of Devonshire) employed the Kendal architect G Webster who altered and refaced the entire house. Giving the building a gothic appearance, Webster added tall ornamental chimneys, gables, square-headed, mullioned and transomed windows and added a new kitchen garden, arboretum, conservatory and fountain.

Holker1

Cavendish Crest above the front door

Disaster struck in March 1871 when the entire west wing was destroyed by fire. The destruction was devastating with many of the contents and principal rooms lost forever. The 7th Duke began plans to rebuild the west wing on an even grander scale and employed the architects Paley and Austin of Lancaster. Covering the same site as the previous wing, the building was constructed of red sandstone in the Elizabethan style with the addition of a projecting bow window, a high roof with dormer windows, square parapeted tower and a copper cupola. Despite emulating Elizabethan architecture, it remains unmistakably Victorian and a wonderful reflection of its age.

Holker6

Rich ornamentation (entrance porch)

The principle building is constructed of roughcast stone with ashlar dressings and features a first floor sill band and modillioned cornice. The courtyard reveals varied fenestration with a projecting Doric entrance porch. The building also features a two stage octagonal tower with ogival cupola and an octagonal open cupola on square base. Holker Hall is Grade II* Listed.

Holker4

The Grade II Listed stable courtyard (above & below) dates to 1864 and is constructed of stone rubble with ashlar dressings. The two storey buildings feature decorative bargeboards and a central open timber bell turret with a pyramidal roof and four face clock. The wings feature segmental-headed coach house doors and the buildings are now home to Holker Food Hall, offices and a cafe.

Holker5

Hardwick Old Hall

HardW1

Situated 100m southwest of Hardwick Hall is the ruin of the Old Hall. The Countess of Shrewsbury, Bess of Hardwick, was the second most powerful woman in England next to Queen Elizabeth. Gaining wealth through her four husbands, Bess was born in the Old Hall in 1527 and returned here in 1584 following the breakdown of her marriage to the Earl of Shrewsbury. Although planning her new hall opposite, Bess began to extend the Old Hall in 1587. The Old Hall was for Bess, her family and entourage whereas the new Hall would be for ostentation, entertainment and special guests.

HardW2

Constructed of local sandstone and finished with rough plaster, the Old Hall was a radical modern mansion with the latest Italian innovations in house design. Evidence suggests that the south and west walls predate the rebuilding of 1587 indicating that the old manor house which stood on the site in 1525 had been incorporated into the building.

HardW3

The Italian Renaissance villa layout was replicated with the great hall placed in the centre of the house in an attempt to create a symmetrical layout. The great hall retained its symbolic importance as the heart of the house and was still the first reception room for all visitors.

HardW4

Impressive plaster work in the Hill Great Chamber

The hierarchy of room status is echoed in the layout – the higher the room, the better it was. The third floor of the building was the highlight for visitors and was made to impress. The Great Hill Chamber still features part of the deep plaster frieze of a double arcade, which was the fashion in northern Italian houses. With design elements taken from Roman architecture, the decoration was strongly influenced by Renaissance art. Hardwick Old Hall is Grade I Listed and maintained as a controlled ruin by English Heritage.

Nottingham: Wollaton Hall

Wollaton4

Wollaton Hall in Nottinghamshire was built as a country house for the landowner Sir Francis Willoughby who inherited the estate from his father, Sir Henry Willoughby, in 1564. The sumptuous residence was designed by the English architect Robert Smythson and built between 1580-1588.

Wollaton3       Wollaton2

The building is constructed of Ancaster limestone ashlar and details a classical order on each floor of the building. Classical Roman and Greek figures are set in circular niches in the projecting corners of the building.

Wollaton7

The central hall (above) features a screen with passage and gallery above also designed by Robert Smythson. The screen has Doric columns, sculpted figures and stone entablature.

        Wollaton5

The ornate hammer-beam roof features shields and sculpted figures supporting the roof timbers. The oak panelled ceiling dates to 1830 when the English architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville altered part of the building for the 6th Lord Middleton.

Wollaton1

Wollaton Hall was converted to a museum in 1925 and is Grade I Listed.