Research at Apethorpe Hall

Apethorpe Hall, near Oundle, Northamptonshire, is a Grade I listed country house of exceptional importance. Dating from the late 15th century, Apethorpe Hall has entertained Tudor and Stuart royalty, notably Elizabeth I and James I. The house contains one of the most important Jacobean interiors to remain in the country. It was the principal seat of the Mildmays and Fanes, Earls of Westmorland, for over 350 years.

The Great Hall Range

In the centre is the 15th century Great Hall, with its entrance porch and oriel window. To the left lie the early great chamber and parlour blocks.

History

Apethorpe Hall was built in the late 15th century for Sir Guy Wolston, who served as constable of the nearby royal castle at Fotheringhay, Esquire of the Body to Edward IV, and sheriff as well as MP for Northamptonshire.

In 1551 the property was acquired by Sir Walter Mildmay, soon to become Chancellor of the Exchequer.  He rebuilt the South Range to provide a state apartment suite, where Elizabeth I was entertained in 1566.

Sir Francis Fane, who had married Mildmay's granddaughter, remodelled the state rooms and added a long gallery in 1622-24 at the express order of James I for his 'more commodious entertainment.... and princely recreation there'. The King provided oak trees for the purpose from Rockingham Forest.

The courtyard front of the East Range

Built in 1622-4, this range houses the Long Gallery on the first floor. Below it was an open arcade, which was glazed in during the 19th century.

The house was clearly a favourite of the early Stuart monarchs.  There were at least thirteen royal visits - more than to any other house in the county - between 1566 and 1636, and it is said that it was at Apethorpe that James met George Villiers, his favourite, later to become Duke of Buckingham.

The Fanes, now Earls of Westmorland, continued to make alterations and improvements to the house and landscape through the course of the 18th and 19th centuries.

In 1904 the property was bought by Leonard Brassey, who carried out a major programme of works to the house, gardens and park with the architect Sir Reginald Blomfield. Lord Brassey sold the house and gardens in 1949, though retained much of the remaining estate. The house became an approved school, which closed in 1982.

The King's Chamber in 1909

Built for James I, this room retains its fine decorative plaster ceiling and an exceptionally ornate fireplace. © Country Life (NMR)
© Country Life (NMR)

also of interest

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