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Historic Towns & Picturesque Villages

Torcross on Slapton Ley in Devon


in the county of Devon

Pictures of Gainsborough Old Hall

a Historic Building in the town of Gainsborough, in the county of Lincolnshire

About Gainsborough Old Hall

Gainsborough Old Hall is one of the largest and most outstanding surviving examples of a late medieval house in the country. It was built in 1484 by Lord de Burgh after the Lancastrians had wrecked his former home. The house has a fascinating history, with many Royal connections. Here, Lord de Burgh received Richard III, and in 1509 the house was visited by Henry VIII, and in 1540 it became the place where the king was to meet Katherine Parr, widow of Lord de Burgh's eldest son Thomas, who was destined to be Henry VIII's last wife.

The last of the de Burgh family to reside at the Old Hall was Thomas de Burgh, he was Queen Elizabeth I's ambassador to Scotland and Lord Deputy in Ireland. It was his extravagance that forced the sale of the family seat in 1597, a year later he was dead, but the Hickman family to whom he sold the property lived there until 1720 when they moved their family seat to Thonock.

From then on the old place experienced a very chequered history, it first became a parish church, a linen factory, a corn exchange, a mechanic's institute, it once more became a church, then tenements and shops. It also has a history as a theatre, soup kitchen, public house, ballroom, an auction room, and finally it became a Masonic Temple.

Through lack of desire to modernise the house, it was left to fall into disrepair, but somehow or other the kitchens survived as the best example of a medieval kitchen in the country. Much of the Great Hall survived, and the strong brick tower. In the Great Hall visitors can see the finest remaining single-arch braced roof and a most beautiful stone oriel window.

There is nothing of the earlier 13th century fortifications, with the exterior presenting an attractive black and white timber-frame manor house set around a pretty garden in the heart of the town. It is delightfully restored and refurbished to appear much as it did when lived in by the de Burgh's, it is evocative of its Royal "hey-day" especially in the Great Hall, when if you listen carefully you swear you can hear the ribald laughter of Henry VIII.

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