Gainsborough Old Hall



Gainsborough Old Hall, Lincolnshire is one of the best-preserved medieval manor houses in England. Dating from around 1460ís the Hall has an impressive Great Hall; original medieval kitchen with large fireplaces; East and West ranges containing a number of rooms and a corridor which is reputably haunted.

Dating from around 1460ís Gainsborough Old Hall is one of the best-preserved medieval manor houses in England. Although it is known that a castle and a manor existed in Gainsborough prior to this due to them being referred to in a charter of King Stephen (1135-1154). The person believed to have started to build what was to become Gainsborough Old Hall was Thomas Burgh after he inherited it in 1455. This incorporated the Great Hall with its ornate wooden ceiling and the kitchen with its enormous fireplace. The house was later added to with the construction of the East Range with the West Range being added sometime after 1470, followed by the brick tower in the 1480ís.

The Hall remained in the possession of the Burgh family until 1596 when Thomas, the Fifth Lord Burgh, died without an heir. The Hall was then sold to William Hickman, a merchant from London. Hickman was to make a number of improvements, especially to the east range and the Hall was to remain in the Hickman family, who were to live there until 1720 when they moved to a newly constructed house. Since then the Hall has been unoccupied but has been used for a number uses including a theatre, a pub and a masonic temple. 

From 1949 the Hall was looked after by a volunteer group, The Friends of the Old Hall (FOHA), who first opened it to the public. The Hall was given to the nation in 1970 by Sir Edmund Bacon, a descendant of the Hickman family. The Hall is now owned by English Heritage and is open to the public as a museum operated by Lincolnshire County Council.

It is known that the Hall received two royal visits. Richard III in 1483 and Henry VIII, and his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, in 1541.  The Burgh family were well connected at court and the first Lord Burgh was at both the Coronation of Richard III and the Henry VII. The third Lord Burgh was among those who petitioned Pope Clement VII to consent to the divorce of King Henry VIII in order that he could marry Anne Boleyn and he was Anne Boleynís Lord Chamberlain

Constructed mainly of brick the Hall consists of part timber-framed construction and incorporates a number of ranges and an imposing brick tower on the north-east corner which was used for lodgings. Visitors are able to ascend the tower which provides good views over Gainsborough. 

The Hall is supposedly haunted by the Grey Lady, thought to be the daughter of the Lord of the Manor. She fell in love with a poor soldier and planned to elope with him. Her father discovered the plan and locked her away in the tower where she died from a broken heart. 

The building has changed little architecturally over the years. The kitchen still contains many of its original features, including two open fireplaces, large enough to roast an ox, and two bread ovens which are served by a third chimney. On view are a variety of rooms furnished according to the time and depicting how it would have looked in those times.  

Today the Old Hall is a Grade I listed building

      External Views

The Great Hall The Panelled Room

The Kitchen

Tower Bedroom Toilet             


Copyright - All  Photographs copyright Ron Gatepain

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