Thoresby Hall, built in the 19th century, is a fine Grade I listed country house located in Budby, Nottinghamshire.
Although what you see today is an excellent example of Victorian architecture, Thoresby Hall has a unique history that dates back to as early as 1633 and was once completely destroyed by fire in 1746.
Once the seat of the Pierrepont family, it’s been demolished, built again twice and was even owned by the National Coal Board for 10 years in the 1980s.
Read on to learn about when Thoresby Hall was built (and rebuilt) as well as the various generations of the Pierrepont family who have successively owned it.
17th Century History
Robert Pierrepont, 1st Earl of Kingston-upon-Hull (6 August 1584 – 25 July 1643) was an English nobleman who fought in the Civil War of 1643, but who had earlier bought Thoresby lands in 1633. Unfortunately, he was killed in a friendly fire incident after being captured by Parliamentary forces and so never was able to realise his original plans.
Then, William Pierrepont, 2nd son of Robert and 4th Earl of Kingston-upon-Hull (c. 1662 – 17 September 1690), a British peer and Member of Parliament, had the house remodelled during 1685-87, probably by Benjamin Jackson.
This decision followed permission to create Thoresby Park by enclosure from Sherwood Forest. Enclosure is a term used in English landownership that refers to the appropriation of “waste” or “common land” enclosing it and by doing so depriving commoners of their rights of access and privilege.
In 1689, the house witnessed the birth of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (née Pierrepont; 15 May 1689 – 21 August 1762) who was an English aristocrat, writer, and poet.
18th Century History
In the 18th century, the estate was bequeathed to Evelyn Pierrepont, 2nd Duke of Kingston-upon-Hull, most Noble Order of the Garter (1711 – 23 September 1773) and member of the House of Lords. He was the only son of William Pierrepont and his wife, Rachel Bayntun (1695–1722).
Unfortunately, in 1746, the same year as the bloody Battle of Culloden, the house was completely destroyed by fire. It was some 20 years after when the architect, John Carr, constructed a new property on the same site between 1767 and 1772.
It’s at this point in history that we can date the first landscaping of the Thorsby Park by Humphry Repton (21 April 1752 – 24 March 1818) who was the last great English landscape designer of the eighteenth century.
In 1773, the 2nd duke passed and left Thoresby estate to his wife Elizabeth Pierrepont (née Chudleigh), Duchess of Kingston (8 March 1721 – 26 August 1788) and sometimes referred to as Countess of Bristol. She was an English courtier and courtesan known by her contemporaries for her adventurous life-style.
Three years after the 2nd dukes’ death, Elizabeth was found guilty of bigamy in a famous trial by her peers in 1776 which attracted an audience of 4,000 people.
The court declared that she had illegally married again while her 1st husband was still living and, consequently, was obliged to surrender the property upon her death in 1786 to the duke’s nephew Charles Medows (4 November 1737 – 17 June 1816), a Royal Navy officer. The 2nd duke died childless and, hence, Charles was the only heir.
He adopted the Pierrepont name, probably because of the long association of Thoresby with the family and later became the 1st Earl of Manvers.
19th Century History
In 1868, and for the 2nd time in its history, Thoresby Hall was demolished once again. This time not by fire but by choice.
Sydney Pierrepont, now the 3rd Earl Manvers commissioned the famed architect of English country houses, Anthony Salvin, to demolish the house to make way for the building you see today. Hence why Thoresby House is described as a Victorian stately home, despite its longer history dating from two centuries prior.
Completed in 1871, it measures 55 metres (180 ft) on its east and south fronts and 48 metres (157 ft) on its west front. The impressive Great Hall, with minstrels’ gallery at the west end, is 19 metres (62 ft) long and 14 metres (46 ft) high.
20th Century History
The house descended to Gervas Pierrepont, 6th Earl Manvers who died in 1955 without a male heir and the title thereby became extinct. The house remained with his wife, Countess Manvers, and their daughter Lady Rozelle Raynes.