The Old Hall’s History | Gainsborough Old Hall History
Gainsborough Old Hall is one of the country’s best preserved medieval manor houses. It has a magnificent Great Hall at its centre linking the East and West Ranges and boasts one of the best preserved examples of a late medieval kitchen in England.
A charter of King Stephen (1135 – 1154) refers to a castle and a manor at Gainsborough. The earlier manor of Gainsborough is believed to have come to the noble Burgh family via the mother of Thomas, who later became known as the 1st Lord Burgh. Soon after Thomas Burgh inherited the manor in 1455 he began to build the new manor house now known to us as Gainsborough Old Hall.
Samples of timber from the Great Hall suggest the trees used in its construction were felled between 1454 and 1485 with a likely felling date around 1465 suggesting the current building dates from around the 1460’s. This and other evidence suggests that the kitchen and Great Hall were built first, shortly followed by the East Range. The West Range that stands today was probably constructed sometime after 1470 with later additions, such as the brick tower, completed in the 1480’s.
The walls of the original medieval building were constructed using a timber framework e.g. Great Hall and East Range but were later encased in brick as during this period brick was a statement of wealth and status.
It is believed the manor was originally surrounded by orchards, hunting grounds and a mart yard, all belonging to the Burgh family.
The Hickman family bought the Hall in 1596 and lived there until 1720. Since then the Hall has been put to many different uses including a theatre, a pub and a masonic temple. It was given to the nation in 1970 by the Bacons who are descendants of the Hickman family.
Two family dynasties helped to shape the history of Gainsborough Old Hall; The Burghs up until 1596 and the Hickman and Bacon families thereafter. During its occupation by the Burghs, the Hall received two royal visits. Richard III visited in 1483 and Henry VIII, together with his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, in 1541. The Hickman family also brought their fair share of interesting links. It is believed by many that William Hickman and his mother Rose offered support to the Separatist congregation. Some of these Separatists went on to form the group of Pilgrims who sailed for America on the Mayflower.