Grafton Manor, Northamptonshire

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Grafton Manor is a manor house and former royal hunting lodge in Northamptonshire , United Kingdom . Classified as a Grade II Cultural Monument, the property is west of St Mary the Virgin Parish Church in the small village of Grafton Regis .


The mansion was originally built before the mid-15th century. Around 1440 it was bought by Richard Woodville , whose ancestors had probably been based in Grafton Regis since the beginning of the 13th century. After the English King Edward IV had secretly married his daughter Elizabeth in 1464 , he was elevated to Earl Rivers . He bequeathed Grafton Regis to his grandson Thomas Gray , a son from the first marriage of his daughter Elizabeth. In 1528, the English King Henry VIII bought the manor house in exchange from Thomas Gray, 2nd Marquess of Dorset , who received holdings in Leicestershire in return . He had the neglected mansion converted into a royal hunting lodge, which he often used to go hunting in the adjacent Grafton Park. Stones from the abandoned castle of Castlethorpe in Buckinghamshire were used for the construction. Grafton Park, west of the manor, was merged with the Potterspury wildlife park, and another wildlife park was created a short distance from Grafton Regis north of Hartwell . However, the king used the property not only as a hunting lodge, several meetings of the Privy Council took place in the manor house . In 1528 the king met papal legate Lorenzo Campeggi in the manor house to negotiate his divorce from Catherine of Aragon , and in September 1529 the king's last meeting with his Lord Chancellor Wolsey took place in the house . In 1531 he received a Hungarian and in 1537 a Scottish ambassador at Grafton Manor.

However, Henry VIII was the only English monarch who used the hunting lodge for himself. Under his daughter, Queen Elizabeth I , the manor was leased first to William Cecil and later to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester . The Queen visited her favorite in Grafton in 1564 and 1568, and Leicester had the house expanded from 1573 to 1575 before the Queen visited him again in June and July 1575. After Leicester's death, the property was leased to Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex . King James I leased the mansion to Ludovic Stewart, 2nd Duke of Lennox , whom he visited in Grafton Regis in 1608, 1610, 1612, 1614 and in August 1616. Jacob's son, King Charles I, pledged the house to Sir Francis Crane in 1624 , who originally wanted to set up a carpet manufacture in the house. In 1628 he bought the property, but had large parts demolished in order to obtain building material for his new house in neighboring Stoke Bruerne . After Crane's death in 1636, his widow Mary Crane lived in the mansion. During the English Civil War the house was occupied by the royalist Sir John Digby until it was besieged and destroyed by the Parliamentary Army under the Earl of Essex at Christmas 1643 .

Mary Crane bequeathed the burned-out ruin to Marthana Wilson, who partially rebuilt the house and rented it out. In 1673 the king bought the property for his illegitimate son Henry FitzRoy , whom he made Duke of Grafton in 1675 . Under the 2nd Duke of Grafton , the mansion served as the residence of the Duke of Shrewsbury in 1697 and later as the residence of FitzRoy's mother Isabella and her second husband Sir Thomas Hanmer . For himself the Duke of Grafton set up Wakefield Lodge as a residence in Northamptonshire, so Grafton Manor was leased as an agricultural property after Hanmer's death. The tenants expanded the property with various company buildings. In 1919 and 1920 the 8th Duke of Grafton sold Grafton Manor. After the Second World War, the mansion was used as a private school until 1960. It then served as a residential building and, for a short time, as a restaurant, and is currently used as a private hospital.

Building description

The current building originally dates from the 16th century, but was substantially renewed and rebuilt in the 17th and 19th centuries after it was destroyed in 1643. The house, originally on an E-shaped floor plan, is made of limestone and has a slate roof. The middle part is two-story, the two gabled, slightly protruding side wings are single-story. In the center the house has a low entrance porch, on the right side there is an annex made of bricks from the 19th century. Two chimneys and partly stucco ceilings are still preserved from the interior.

Southwest of the house is the so-called chantry , which served as the gatehouse and farm building of the royal hunting lodge. The two-story group of buildings from the 16th century served as a stable and barn for the agricultural property and was rebuilt in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Gatehouse Gazetteer: Grafton Regis Manor. Retrieved March 31, 2015 .
  2. ^ Brain Injury Services, Northampton - Grafton Manor. Retrieved March 30, 2015 .
  3. Historic England: The Chantry. Retrieved April 2, 2015 .

Coordinates: 52 ° 6 ′ 53.6 ″  N , 0 ° 53 ′ 40.6 ″  W.