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Grade 1 listed Lilford Hall is a stately 100 room home with a 55,000 sq ft floor area, located in the eastern part of the County of Northamptonshiremarker, south of Oundlemarker and north of Thrapstonmarker. The Hall was the home of the Elmes family from 1635 to 1711, and then the Powys family (Baron Lilford) from 1711 to 1990. Lilford Hall is now the home of the Micklewright family, only the third family in nearly 400 years to live permanently at the Hall. Lilford Hall and the associated parkland of 350 acres is located north-west of the village of Lilford, part of the parish of Lilford-cum-Wigsthorpe and Thorpe Achurchmarker. The land which was turned into the parkland was mentioned in the Domesday Book, and owned by King David I of Scotland at that time.

The hall was built around 1635 for William Elmes, and then acquired in 1711 by Sir Thomas Powys who was Attorney General to King James II, and the chief prosecutor at the Trial of the Seven Bishops. Alterations were then made in the 18th Century by the prominent architect Henry Flitcroft for his grandson Sir Thomas Powys. His son Sir Thomas Powys was thereafter created the first Baron Lilford (Lord Lilford) by the Prime Minster, William Pitt the Younger.

Lilford is Jacobean-style gentry house of the 1630s, related closely with Thorpe masons through its parallels with other neighbouring houses such as Kirby Hallmarker and Apethorpe Hallmarker. Its plan is traditional and arranged around a 'U-shaped' court with the hall entered by a screens passage, the Great Chamber placed over the hall, leading to the principal apartment that terminated with the Great Bed-chamber.

West facade of Lilford Hall
Powys family crest over front porch


Its development by successive generations of the Powys family, who acquired the property in 1711, respected the old house, but each stage has a clarity that is clearly legible and contributes to the whole. Apart from the construction of the pair of balancing stable wings by Henry Flitcroft and the successive addition of small scale extensions in the form of additional storeys to the east end of the two wings, works were confined to alterations within the house and remodelling.

The Jacobean house is considered as of considerable significance, and Henry Flitcroft's alterations in the 1740s are of a similar status. The outstanding contribution is that of Henry Flitcroft in the c1740s with his insertion of a comprehensive set of 18C interiors that not only transformed the principal rooms into a sequence of Palladian spaces, but brought light into the heart of the building. The play of the sequence of 18C rooms within the structure of the Jacobean house is one of the most notable features of the house.

The play between these 18th Century interiors and the Jacobean exterior is a major feature of Lilford Hall. The alterations of the early 19th Century are of some significance as are William Gilbee Habershon's work in the 1840s. However, the latter was primarily concerned with the exterior and the integration of the garden with the house. Of more significance is the extension of the house in 1909 by William Dunn and Robert Watson of Dunn & Watson whose proposals extended the north and south ranges in an imaginative way reminiscent of other Scottish architects such as Sir Robert Stodart Lorimer.

The significance of the house is enhanced by its association with Thomas Powys who was created 1st Baron Lilford in acknowledgement of his role as a politician under William Pitt, and through the association of the site with ornithological studies, particularly those of 4th Baron Lilford.

The relationship of the Hall to its setting is also notable, particularly because of the integration of the house with the pleasure grounds and deer park. The Park was formalized between 1747 and 1776 by removing all of the existing village (12 houses and the vicarage) as well as St. Peter’s Church, which buildings were all located close south of the Hall. The remains of the church were then used to build a folly near the Achurch end of the Park.

The Park also still contains several aviaries built for Thomas Littleton Powys, 4th Baron Lilford, a prominent ornithologist. The 7th Baron Lilford restocked the aviaries around 1970, containing more than 350 birds of 110 species, and opened the Park to the public.

In the autumn of 1990 Lilford Park was closed to the public, and the Hall and Park is now owned by the Micklewright family and used by them as a private residence.

Thomas Powys, 4th Baron Lilford, in the Library at Lilford Hall
Thomas Powys, 4th Baron Lilford, was a founder of the British Ornithologists' Union in 1858 and its President from 1867 until his death. He was also the first President of the Northamptonshire Natural History Society. Lilford travelled widely, especially in the Mediterranean Region and his extensive collection of birds was maintained in the grounds of Lilford Hall. His aviaries featured birds from around the globe, including rheas, kiwis, Pink-headed Ducks and even a pair of free-flying Lammergeiers. He was responsible for the introduction of the Little Owl into England in the 1880s.

Lilford Hall also served as nurse's quarters for USAAF 303rd Station Hospital situated in the park during World War II. After the war, the former hospital buildings in the park were used for a Polish school called Lilford Technical School from 1949 and 1954. The Lilford family presently own Bank Hallmarker in Lancashiremarker which featured on the first series of the BBC's Restoration series in 2003.

Lilford Hall and Park was the subject of the 27th January 1900 issue of Country Life Illustrated, and also a location for the BBC television series "By the Sword Divided" made in the 1980s.

Gallery

Image:rearairial.JPG|Air view of South facade of Lilford HallImage:urnlilford.JPG|Stone vase on South FacadeImage:seatlilford2.JPG|Garden seat on South TerraceImage:airialshot.JPG|View of North and West facades of Lilford Hall

References

  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, The Buildings of England – Northamptonshire. ISBN 0-300-09632-1
  • Heward, John and Taylor, Robert "The Country Houses of Northamptonshire". ISBN 1-873592-21-3
  • Inskip, Peter "Lilford Hall Conservation Statement" Peter Inskip and Peter Jenkins Architects
  • A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 3 (1930), 'Parishes: Lilford-with-Wigsthorpe', pp. 227-231.
  • Thomas Babington Macaulay (1st Baron Macaulay), Macaulay's History of England
  1. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=66293
  2. http://yarchive.net/macaulay/history/chapter_VIII.html
  3. http://www.landscapeandenclosure.com/B.%20McDonagh%20SLS%20newsletter.pdf
  4. http://www.polishresettlementcampsintheuk.co.uk/lilfordschool.htm
  5. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092712/




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