An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 6, Architectural Monuments in North Northamptonshire. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1984.
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AN INVENTORY OF THE ARCHITECTURAL MONUMENTS IN NORTH NORTHAMPTONSHIRE
Apethorpe is a parish of 723 hectares in Rockingham Forest, the village lying near Willow Brook. It incorporates the former village of Hale, mentioned in Domesday Book and deserted as a result of the Black Death (RCHM, Northants. I, Apethorpe (4)); institutions to Hale church continued long after depopulation, but the parish was presumably united with Apethorpe in the 15th century when it fell to the same owner. Apethorpe in Domesday belonged to the royal vill of Nassington, and was a chapelry of Nassington until it was made a separate parish in the 19th century.
In the late 15th century Hale and Apethorpe were acquired by Sir Guy Wolston, an officer in the household of Edward IV who amassed an extensive holding of land in the area; he built a large house at Apethorpe and probably also rebuilt the church. His property passed c. 1550 to Sir Walter Mildmay and from his family to the Fanes, later Earls of Westmorland. The first Earl rebuilt much of Apethorpe Hall and also put up a monument to his father-in-law in the church. The creation of a major residence at Apethorpe had important consequences for the village. In 1551 only ten of the 44 tenements in the village were copyhold, suggesting a large buying-up of property by Wolston or his successors (NRO, W(A) XVI.5); by 1773 there were only two, insignificant, copyholds left (mons. (12) and W. part of (7)). The Fanes therefore had almost complete control over parish and village. In 1801 there were still 45 families although in 1673 there seem to have been 62 tenements. A large deer park was created in the 16th and early 17th centuries, incorporating much of the area of Hale; this was enclosed for farming in the late 17th century and the hall never had an extensive landscaped garden. The parish was enclosed in 1778, and the road from Woodnewton, hitherto approaching from E. of the church, was diverted along a former cul-de-sac to its present route; a group of six tenements S. of the church was demolished (map in NRO). After acquiring the Westmorland estate in 1904 Mr. Leonard Brassey made many alterations to the village, doubtless changing its character. Many new picturesque houses and cottages were built, some at least designed by Traylen of Stamford (Architectural Review, 41 (1917), 61) and in 1910 the old Westmorland Arms was replaced by a new public house named the King's Head. On the sale of the hall in 1947 a large house called the Manor House (8) became the seat of Lord Brassey. The remaining houses in the village are small. Two outlying houses, Blue Field and Halefield Lodges (13, 15), may be associated with outlying farms on the demesne land, while Cheeseman's Lodge (14) was built for a keeper of the park.
(1) Parish Church of St. Leonard (Fig. 18; Plate 56) stands at the E. end of the village on the edge of parkland. It consists of a Chancel, South Chapel, Nave with North and South Aisles, West Tower with spire, and South Porch. The walls are mainly of limestone rubble laid in shallow courses, but those of the S. chapel have also bands of squared limestone; the tower and spire are of finely jointed ashlar. The roofs are low-pitched.
The chancel, nave, aisles and porch are all of the late 15th century, but a voussoir with chevron ornament, built into the N. aisle wall, survives from a 12th-century building; one monument (no. 5), of the mid 15th century, also remains. The date of the rebuilding is unknown but it would be reasonable to suggest that Sir Guy Wolston, the builder of Apethorpe Hall, was responsible for the work, soon after he had acquired the manor in c. 1480. The S. chapel was added in 1621 for Sir Francis Fane to house the tomb of his parents-in-law, Sir Anthony Mildmay, d. 1617, and Grace Lady Mildmay, d. 1620, in accordance with Sir Anthony's will (PRO, Prob. 11/130). The tower was built in 1633, almost certainly replacing an earlier tower.
The church is noteworthy for the attention it received during the early 17th century, principally by the addition of the Gothic-style S. chapel, enriched with classical wall decoration in relief and provided with stained glass, to house the grandiose Mildmay monument. The rebuilding of the W. tower in fine masonry also exemplifies the respect paid to Gothic architecture during the 17th century. The Mildmay monument is one of the largest and most theatrical of its type in the country.
The church was refitted in the early 18th century. The seating, which has not survived, was installed from 1735 onwards and consisted of box pews for occupation by villagers and servants of Apethorpe Hall, and a large W. gallery for the owners of the Hall. The arrangement and allocation of seats is recorded in a plan of 1738 (Fig. 13; NRO, W(A) 4.IX.26, 7.XV). Other fittings included a reredos, a pulpit supplied in 1736 and a coloured-glass E. window made in 1732.
Architectural Description – The Chancel has an ogee-moulded plinth, side and diagonal buttresses of two weathered stages, and plain parapets. Windows on the E. and N. have four-centred heads and graduated lights, but the lower part of the E. window has been blocked and the central mullion removed. In the N.E. angle is a head corbel which carried a wall post of a former roof. On the S. is an arcade of 1621 which was inserted when the S. chapel was added. The arches and piers have quadrant mouldings with wide fillets, and the capitals have cyma reversa mouldings (Fig. 19). The chancel arch is of two plain chamfered orders, the outer continuous, the inner with moulded capitals and half-round shafts which have been cut back to terminate as cone-shaped corbels, presumably to allow for the fittings installed in 1735. The South Chapel of 1621 is uniform with the chancel but somewhat higher; the design of the windows is identical but the jambs of those of the chapel are composed of vertical stones in contrast to the smaller horizontal stones of the earlier work. On the W. is an arch of similar design to the arcade between chancel and chapel. The upper parts of the interior wall surfaces are elaborately decorated with limestone panels carved in relief; the rectangular panels have scroll-pattern frames of varying designs, some of classical derivation (Fig. 19). Traces of Biblical texts remain. On the N. below the panels are wreaths, looped curtains and cherubs' heads. The Nave has arcades of two chamfered orders, the outer continuous, the inner carried on half-round shafts with moulded capitals, and high bases (Fig. 20). The E. responds have been cut back and now terminate as cone-shaped corbels. The clearstorey has plain parapets and windows of three trefoil-headed lights in four-centred heads; the lower parts have been blocked. The North and South Aisles are uniform with the chancel. The N. and S. doorways have continuous wave-moulded jambs and four-centred heads. Set in the N. wall is a 12th-century voussoir with chevron ornament. Immediately W. of the porch is a narrow blocked opening of post-medieval date. The lower parts of some windows have been blocked.
The Tower (Plate 56) was built in 1633, the date being carved in relief above the W. window. It is of three external stages with an ogee-moulded plinth. The tower arch is of two orders, the inner chamfered, the outer wave-moulded; capitals have cyma reversa mouldings and the bases are roll-moulded (Fig. 20). The rear-arch is plain. A vice in the N.W. corner has a doorway with a four-centred head. The W. doorway has a rounded head and plain jambs, and the W. window above has two trefoil-headed lights and a semi-circular head. The belfry windows are each of two pointed lights in a round-headed opening, all within a rectangular recess. Other small openings have either square or trefoiled heads. The upper string course is carved with crudely executed dog-tooth ornament. On the octagonal spire are two tiers of lucarnes, the lower of two lights, the upper of one. The South Porch has an ogee-moulded plinth, diagonal two-stage buttresses and plain parapets with gargoyles carved as grotesque animals. The E. wall has probably been rebuilt. The archway has a four-centred head of two chamfered orders, the outer continuous, the inner with capitals and half-round responds; above is a niche with canopy, much decayed. A single-light window in the W. wall has a pointed head with sunk spandrels, cut from one stone. Inside are stone benches.
The Roof of the chancel is of three bays with moulded tie beams, short king posts and staggered purlins; it is probably a replacement of 1621 when the S. chapel was built. The roof of the S. chapel is similar to the foregoing but the king posts are decoratively carved. The 15th-century nave roof has boldly cambered tie beams with braces to wall posts supported on stone corbels carved as grotesque demi-figures. The aisle roofs have cambered tie beams, some moulded, carrying central purlins, perhaps 17th-century.
Fittings – Bells: four; 1st, inscribed 'John Stot gave this bell 1629'; 2nd, uninscribed; 3rd, by Thomas Norris, 1671; 4th, inscribed 'Nomen [Magdalenie] Campana melodie Geret' (VCH, Northants. II, 549). Bell-frame, braced, 1633, contemporary with tower. Clock: with lozenge-shaped dial on tower, painted 'IW 1704'; the Churchwardens' Presentments of 1765 (Lincoln R.O., Apethorpe C111/40/1) state that the dial should be new-painted and figured. In 1776–7 the clock had a new dial, painted by William Briggs for £2.5.0; it was repaired in 1834–5 when Whyles painted and gilded the dial for £2.10.0. and Beal repaired the works, supplying new brasses, etc. The clock-frame is inscribed 'IW 1704' on the top rail. Corbels: two in spandrels of chancel arch, on W. face, carved as demi-animals, for supporting the rood beam, 15th-century. Cross shaft: two pieces, one in W. tower, another set up on a base in churchyard; incised border and foliage decoration, perhaps 14th-century. Doors: (1), in N. doorway, planks with modern backing, hinges with U-shaped ends, probably 17th-century; (2) in S. doorway, fielded panels, lock decorated with quatrefoils and trefoils, 18th-century; (3), to tower vice, planks, hinges with ogee terminals, 17th-century; (4), in W. doorway, 17th-century. Font: marble bowl with gadrooning and floral wreath, baluster stem of limestone, also with gadrooning, early 18th-century. Gates: to S. porch, wooden, upper part with grille of uprights set diagonally and ironwork cresting of spikes and ovals, early 19th-century.
Glass: in chancel, E. window (1), depicting the Last Supper, naturalistically portrayed, with shields of arms in outer lights of Fane impaling Stringer for Thomas 6th earl of Westmorland and his wife Catherine, with motto 'Ne vile Fano'; the glass is signed in right light 'I. Rowell Wycomb Bucks Fecit 1732' (Plate 57). In S. chapel, E. window (2), depicting the Fall of Man, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the Last Judgement, each scene with texts and the date 1621 (Plate 62); in the head are shields of arms of Mildmay impaling Sherington, and Fane impaling Mildmay. In the second window in the S. wall (3), 17th-century fragments include arms illustrating Sir Francis Fane's ancestry through the Despensers; also shield of arms of Mildmay quartering Sherington and other alliances. Inscriptions and scratchings: 17th-century initials on S. chapel arcade; 15th-century masons' marks on both nave arcades; on E. face of S. porch, 'William Ireson, 1776'.
Monuments and Floor slabs. Monuments: in chancel – on E. wall (1), of Rowland Woodward, undated, black marble panel with pilasters enriched with rosettes, a crowned skull on the apron and a large cartouche of arms flanked by obelisks each inscribed 'Dum Descendit Largitur'; the arms are of Woodward impaling Grimsdith. The monument, recorded by Bridges in c. 1720, is 17th-century (Plate 65). (2), of John Leigh, 1627, black marble panel flanked by Ionic columns supporting a frieze enriched with fruit and flowers, and an inverted broken pediment on which rest a reclining figure and a cartouche of arms of Leigh quartered with others (Plate 65). In S. chapel – on E. wall (3), of Maria Fane, daughter of Lord Burghersh, d. 1837, simple monument set up by her mother in 1842; additional panels to Augustus, Lord Burghersh, 1848, and Ernest, Lord Burghersh, 1851. (4), of John Fane, son of John, Lord Burghersh, died in Florence in 1816 aged six months, white marble effigy of infant in bonnet, on mattress and couch decorated with anthemion ornament (Plate 72). (5), tomb slab with effigy, formerly on the sill of the N.W. window in chancel, but now detached in S. chapel, is said to be of Sir Richard Dalton, d. 1442 (VCH, Northants. II, 549). The figure is in plate armour with hands in prayer, head on helm with a manticora as a crest and at the feet; pairs of demi-angels holding shields flank the effigy. Above is an Annunciation scene with figures of God, the Virgin Mary beneath a canopy, and the archangel Gabriel. Small areas of red and green paint remain, and painted crosses and flowers are traceable on the background. On three sides is a sloping marginal fillet, but the right hand side is plain indicating that the slab was designed to go against a wall (Plate 45).
In the centre of the chapel (6), is a large marble monument of Sir Anthony Mildmay, d. 1617, and Grace his wife, daughter of Sir Henry Sherington, d. 1620. The monument (Frontispiece, Plate 60) was erected in 1621 by Sir Francis Fane, their son-in-law, and Mary his wife, in accordance with Sir Anthony's will. It is of grey veined and black marble and is partly gilded and painted. Two effigies lie on a black and white marble tomb chest beneath a baldachino consisting of a shallow dome with a cupola having round-headed openings in its drum, which give light to the interior. The baldachino is supported at each end by a rectangular pier onto which curtains, hanging from the architrave of the dome, are looped. Against the piers are standing figures (Plate 61) representing the four Virtues, and the frieze is inscribed 'Devoute', 'Wise', 'Charitable' and 'Just'; the frieze is also inscribed 'Chaste' and 'Valiant'. The head of the figure representing Justice is modern. Seated on the cornice are smaller figures, on the E. of Faith and on the W. of Hope; on the cupola dome is a seated figure of Charity. Crowning the cornice are freestanding cartouches of arms of Mildmay (N.E. and S.E.) and Sherington (N.W. and S.W.). Against the cupola drum are shields of arms of Mildmay impaling Sherington, both quartered with alliances, and Mildmay quarterly. The W. pier of the baldachino is inscribed with a record of the setting up of the monument by Sir Francis Fane in 1621. The tomb chest is enriched with emblems of mortality and eulogistically-phrased inscriptions record the lives of Sir Anthony on the S., and of Lady Grace on the N. The effigies (Plate 61) lie on rush mats, he in Greenwich armour, she in full mantle, ruff and head-dress. The authorship of the monument is not known but the figures of the four Virtues are in the manner of Maximilian Colt (cf. Cecil monument, Hatfield, Hertfordshire); the baldachino may be compared with that over the tomb of the Countess of Derby at Harefield, Middlesex, probably also by Colt.
In S. aisle – on S. wall (7), of Susan, Countess of Westmorland, 1814, tablet surmounted by urn; (8), of Charles Fane, died 1813 at the battle of Vittoria, tablet with moulded surround. Floor slabs: in nave – (1), of M. Berkeley, 170– and Susanne B. . . . ., 1739, pitch-filled inscription; three other slabs, illegible.
Panelling: in chancel, fielded oak panels, early 18th-century. Pulpit (Plate 66): mahogany, six-sided, two stages, the lower modern with fielded panels, the upper with raised shaped panels of walnut, one inlaid with a sun burst; this is presumably the pulpit supplied by Wilkinson, joiner in 1736 (NRO, W(A) Misc. 12). Rainwater heads: four on nave, with cherubs' heads, dated 1735 and 1736 (Plate 68). Reredos: oak, three fielded panels with shaped and rounded heads, fluted pilasters and moulded entablature, early 18th-century. Seating: see Sectional Preface (Fig. 13). Screen: at W. end of nave, oak, round-headed double doors with panelling of square and L-shaped panels below symmetrically turned balusters, and an openwork tympanum of rectangular pattern; the wings continue the panelling but the balusters are elongated; probably c. 1633, contemporary with the tower (Plate 67). Wall-painting: area of red paint over chancel arch, medieval. Weathercock: probably 1633.
(2) Apethorpe Hall (Plates 84–87) is a stone-built house consisting of ranges round two courtyards and standing in modestly sized gardens S. of the village. The present house was begun in the late 15th century by Sir Guy Wolston who acquired Apethorpe in c. 1480. In c. 1550 it passed by exchange to Sir Walter Mildmay, and in 1617 to Sir Francis Fane who was created Earl of Westmorland in 1624. He was responsible for much rebuilding. The 7th Earl began, but did not complete, an ambitious Palladian remodelling in c. 1740. The house remained in the hands of the Fanes until 1904.
Sir Guy Wolston, the initial builder of the house, rose in the household of the Dukes of York and thereby became usher to the King's Chamber to Edward IV. Three times sheriff of the county, he was made constable of Fotheringhay Castle in 1464, and was knighted in 1487. He died in 1504 bequeathing his property to his son-in-law, Thomas Empson, son of Sir Robert Empson, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who was attainted in 1510 (Cal. Fine Rolls, Ed. IV and Hen. VI p. 169, 222; Hen. VII p. 82, 156). In 1515 Apethorpe and Wolston's other estates in the neighbourhood were bought by Henry Keble, grocer and Lord Mayor of London, and by his son-in-law Lord Mountjoy. Following Keble's death in 1517 Apethorpe was held by his son George until 1545 when Mountjoy sold it to the Crown. On its acquisition by Sir Walter Mildmay in c. 1550 the house was once again occupied by a courtier (VCH, Northants. II, 543). Mildmay's father had risen in office in the Court of Augmentations; Walter became a Surveyor General of that court, and eventually Treasurer of the Household and Chancellor of the Exchequer (D.N.B.; J.H. Round, Family Origins, p. 60–72). Apart from Apethorpe, Mildmay had only a London house, in St. Bartholomew's. When he bought it, Wolston's house had been enlarged by the Keble family, and Mildmay's only addition was a new S. range of 1562.
The part of the main range built by Wolston, probably in c. 1480, consists of the hall with a cross wing to the S. and service rooms to the N.; the cross wing presumably contained a large chamber on the first floor (Fig. 21). The hall oriel fits unconformably against the cross wing and may therefore be a later addition. Also of later date, but still in Wolston's time, is a range to the S. of the cross wing; it is on a slightly different alignment from the earlier buildings and contained a parlour on the ground floor. At the same time or soon after a block was built at the S. end of this parlour together with a range running westward from the same end. This S. block may have extended to the E. but would have been curtailed when the S. range of the E. court was built in 1562. The hall range now continues northwards to terminate as a gable on the N. elevation, but it was originally shorter, the present N. end of the range having originally formed part of the N. range of the E. court; it was altered in c. 1623 in order to provide a large first-floor room, the Old Dining Room, on a N.–S. axis. Early in the 16th century the bay window N. of the porch was built, enlarging the room behind it and also matching the parlour window in the opposite corner of the courtyard. Adjacent to the Old Dining Room, but on the ground floor, is the kitchen which although remodelled in the early 18th century is probably original in form. Between the kitchen and the W. porch of the hall is a two-storey block of the 16th century, which appears always to have provided access from the kitchen to the hall by way of a door in the side of the porch. During the 17th century this block was heightened and the first floor of the porch extended westward. A wall about seven feet high, parallel with the main range and separating it from the W. courtyard, was built in the early 16th century. Still in the early 16th century the wall was heightened and a first-floor gallery, later called the Matted Passage, was built against its E. face, so by-passing the hall and parlour. Leading off the passage on the courtyard side was a garderobe. Probably also part of the original building is the N. range containing a tall central gateway; to the W. is a pair of rooms on each floor, with access to a shared turret projecting on the N. This turret may have been a garderobe which served lodgings. An early map of the gardens (NRO, W(A) Misc. Vol 37) shows that a similar arrangement existed E. of the gateway before that part of the range was rebuilt as a first-floor library in c. 1740.
By the mid 16th century there was a western courtyard, but the W. range was originally an isolated building of c. 1500. This building's first use is uncertain but it probably included lodgings; it later became a dairy and wash house etc. The 16th-century N. range was remodelled in the 17th century with short gabled projections on the N. and S., that on the S. apparently providing corridor access in continuation of the Matted Passage.
The only building which can be attributed to Sir Walter Mildmay is a range on the S. side of the E. courtyard, but it was almost totally replaced in 1623 by Sir Francis Fane. Mildmay's range contained at least one large first-floor room at the W. end adjoining the earlier parlour and may have provided a series of state rooms. Mildmay also added his arms to the spandrels of the gateway.
On Sir Walter Mildmay's death in 1598 Apethorpe passed to his son Anthony who died in 1617 leaving the house to his son-in-law Sir Francis Fane. The Fanes were minor Kentish landowners, but Sir Francis' father married Mary Nevill heiress of Lord Abergavenny and cousin to the Earl of Westmorland, attainted in 1571. Sir Francis pursued his claim to the earldom which he was finally granted in 1624 along with the lapsed barony of Burghersh (G. E. C[ockayne]. Complete Peerage). The house as improved by Mildmay was adequate for the entertainment of Elizabeth I in 1566 and of James I in 1605, 1612, 1614, 1616 and 1619 (E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage (1923) vol. IV, 83; J. Nichols. The Progresses . . . of King James I (1828)). The main occupation during James' visits was hunting; little else was done during his visit in 1605 and his dogs were sent in advance of his arrival in 1614. Fane was both wealthy and ambitious. In about 1620 the park was enlarged by the addition of 300 acres (125 hectares) of royal forest as the earlier park was considered too small for James' enjoyment of the hunt (Cal. SP Dom. (1634–5), p. 421). In 1622 the King gave Fane 100 trees and permission to buy 100 more 'at reasonable rates' to enlarge Apethorpe Hall 'for the more commodious entertainment of his majesty' (PRO, IND/6746; H.M.C., vol. 39 pt. I, p. 256). The consequent rebuilding of the S. and E. ranges of the main court as a suite of state apartments and a gallery was begun in 1623. Much of the other two ranges in the E. court were remodelled at the same time. They were given new roofs, parapets, gables and, in places, windows, to match the new work. The rebuilding of the S. range provided a second hall with adjacent chapel, and gave access not only to the old parlour in the main range but also to the new suite of state rooms, clearly intended for the entertainment of the King, on the first floor. This suite of state rooms consisted of a chamber, withdrawing room, bedroom, back stair, a room for the Duke of Buckingham, the king's favourite, and a long gallery (Fig. 22). The entrance was surmounted by a statue of James I, the bedroom was embellished with a hunting scene over the fireplace and the royal arms decorated the ceiling. These state rooms contain a notable series of fireplaces incorporating in the carving iconographical statements such as the nature of kingship. There is no evidence to suggest that a 'Queen's side' was intended in the N. range. On the E. side of the courtyard a range with a remarkable plan was built: on the ground floor was a double loggia with a central spine wall, and on the first floor was a gallery and above it a roof-walk. The range was doubtless designed for exercise and entertainment. The external walls were dated 1623, the rainwater heads 1624; the interior decoration was probably finished about this time. The king, dying in 1624, never saw the building completed. Sir Francis Fane died in 1629.
Francis Fane's ambition and relatively humble origins are reflected in the heraldry, seen both in the church and the house at Apethorpe. Fane arms were seldom used but he was at pains to stress his Nevill and Despenser ancestry on his mother's side even before gaining the (Nevill) earldom of Westmorland. Plaster ceilings in the state rooms are pageants of Nevill family alliances. The same attitude was adopted by his son Mildmay, and the family continued to use the Despenser fret as a badge as late as 1820.
The second Earl followed a cautious political course during the Civil War. In 1653 he rebuilt the stables and added further ornaments to the gatehouse (NRO, W(A) Misc. Vols. 4, 15). Little appears to have been done to the house during the late 17th century, but between 1703 and 1720 Thomas, the sixth Earl, made a number of alterations. In the E. and S. ranges of the E. court he lowered the sills of many windows, particularly of the Long Gallery, and installed sash windows elsewhere. In 1718–19 he built the Orangery on the S. side of the W. courtyard, probably to designs by John Lumley (NRO, W(A) Misc. Vol. 3; Colvin, Dictionary, p. 529). Whether or not this replaced an earlier range is not clear.
On inheriting Apethorpe in 1736, John, the seventh Earl, entered on a scheme of rebuilding on a grandiose scale. Having already built the Palladian villa of Mereworth to designs by Colen Campbell, it is not surprising that he should have commissioned designs in the same style for the rebuilding of the E. courtyard. The designs by a follower of Campbell, possibly Roger Morris, are only known from 19th-century copies (NRO, W(A) Misc. Vol. 37; Colvin, Dictionary, p. 562). The proposal was to rebuild the E. range of the courtyard, part of the N. range and to double the S. range by the addition of a columned loggia. Both the S. and E. ranges were to have corner pavilions, central domes and a rusticated ground stage below a piano nobile. Of these proposals only the N. block, containing the library, and a partial remodelling of the S. range were completed. The plans for these works indicate that it was always the intention to retain the 17th-century state rooms in the S. range and the Long Gallery in the E. range. Considering the extent of the proposed remodelling this respect for the 'historic' rooms is somewhat unexpected. The rise in ground to the S. meant that the loggia and portico would have been on almost the same level as the earlier, first-floor, state rooms. The area below these rooms and the gallery on the E. was to be almost totally occupied by arcades supporting the piano nobile. In function and partly in appearance the E. and S. ranges would have become practically single-storey, the former ground-floor rooms being entirely sacrificed to the arcades. In the less ambitious scheme which was adopted, the S. range was given a new but asymmetrical front facing the court, and the earlier rooms were supported on an arcade with a single row of columns. At the same time the White Stair at the W. end of the range was remodelled, and the rooms W. of the gatehouse in the N. range were fitted up. A circular dovecote was built in 1740 (NRO, W(A) 7.XV).
No further work of importance was carried out for a century until 1846 when the eleventh Earl initiated a large-scale modernization under Bryan Browning, a Stamford architect. The Earl died in 1849 and about this time Bryan Browning was embarking on a final campaign of alteration. He built the conservatory and loggia below it on the S. front in 1848–49, and had replanned the service accommodation, and roofed the two small courtyards between the hall range and the Matted Passage by 1851. The White Stair was given a new staircase, and sundry additions and alterations in the Jacobean style can be attributed to him (NRO, W(A) 7.XIV; X2898; the plan in VCH Northants. II, opp. p. 544 shows the house as Bryan Browning left it). In about 1858 Bryan Browning's son, Edward, altered the loggia below the Long Gallery in order to create a new entrance hall. The spine wall was removed and the E. arcade rebuilt as a solid wall with windows matching others on this front. The W. arcade was filled with a glazed wooden screen (NRO, W(A) X2891).
In 1904 the house and estate was sold to Mr. Leonard Brassey, later Baron Brassey and grandson of Thomas Brassey, a wealthy railway contractor who died in 1870. He employed Sir Reginald Blomfield to modernize the house in keeping with contemporary ideas. In 1904 the roof of the S. range was heightened and gables added on the S., to improve accommodation in the attics. The conservatory built by Browning lost its glazed domed roof and became an ordinary room. In 1913 the loggia in the E. range was again altered, a careful reconstruction of the E. arcade being installed, but the W. arcade was demolished and rebuilt as a masonry wall incorporating a curious travesty of the original. Also, a passage was built against the N. wall of the Orangery. In 1922 the hall was restored, a ceiling being removed and the roof repaired; panelling and the lower part of the screen were destroyed and replaced by new work. A staircase with 17th-century newels of unknown origin was installed in the E. range. (Notes by Lord Brassey, 1940; copy at house).
In 1949 conversion of the house to an Approved School entailed considerable alterations. The Long Gallery and the Orangery were sub-divided, the library fittings destroyed and an attrition of fittings and doorways began. Since 1972 it has been owned by the County Council. In 1976 a second scheme of rearrangement was started, resulting in the loss of some further features including the doorways of c. 1480 in the cross wing of the hall range. However, the main 17th-century rooms were restored and partitions removed from the Long Gallery.
Architectural Description – The house is generally of two storeys, with stone-slated roofs; walls are of coursed rubble except for the work of 1623, 1718 and c. 1740, and a certain amount of refacing of early work, which is of ashlar.
The Main Range (Plate 84) of c. 1480 consists of a hall, cross wing, parlour and service rooms, with the later Matted Passage to the W. The E. elevation, originally of rubble, is now of ashlar. In c. 1623 a uniform parapet was imposed on this elevation, matching the S. and E. ranges which were then being built. The mullioned windows generally have hood moulds and arched heads to their lights. The Hall is lit by four closely-placed windows on the E. and originally by six on the W. but the central ones are blocked by a stack inserted in the 16th or 17th century. The oriel has a plain parapet of c. 1623, transomed lights, miniature buttresses, and external and internal engaged shafts at the angles. The E. and W. porches are both of two storeys, with diagonal buttresses; each is entered by a double-chamfered four-centred arch, and protects a similar doorway into the hall. The E. porch has above the entrance a blank shield on a quatre-foiled panel; the window above is an 18th-century replacement with two round-headed lights within an ogee-moulded architrave. The side wall is rubble, rendered, with a first-floor blocked loop. The W. porch was similar, but has been incorporated in later work. Internally, the hall has two doors in the N. wall, one four-centred, one blocked. The 17th-century fireplace has a four-centred head within a rectangular frame below a stone shelf; two inscribed plaques above were removed c. 1940. The four-bay roof is original and has five trusses each with a cambered arch-braced collar, curved raking struts, two tiers of butt-purlins, a ridge piece and three tiers of wind-braces. Arch braces and purlins are hollow-chamfered. The end trusses spring from 17th-century stone scroll corbels; the other trusses have inserted tiebeams. The later, 17th-century, panelling was removed in 1922, leaving only the heavy turned balusters and the massive rail of the gallery. The gallery is reached by a 17th-century doorway on the N., and a 16th-century chamfered doorway leads from it to the room over the E. porch. The E. ground-floor doorway has a late 15th-century traceried door. The glass in the oriel was designed by Edward Browning in 1856 and has been mutilated (NRO, W(A) 7.XIV).
The Cross Wing is reached by a moulded doorway in the S. wall of the hall. The ground floor is in three compartments. In the E. compartment a passage between the hall and parlour has moulded doorways and is lit by a four-light, king-mullioned, window with floral stops to the label; a circular rib descends from the label, down the king mullion and through the plinth to the ground. The central compartment has chamfered doorways to the passage and parlour, but the latter is blocked; a 17th-century oval window gives borrowed light from the E. There is an original two-light window on the S.; the W. room, lit by a loop on the S., is entered by doorways in the E. and W. walls, but their chamfered surrounds of the 15th-century were destroyed in 1978. The first floor is lit by a four-light window on the S.; the two rooms were fitted out by Bryan Browning in 1850. The roof, installed in c. 1624, has clasped purlins and collars to alternate rafters with solid braces forming the framework for a plaster barrel ceiling; the present flat ceiling was added in 1850. The gable of c. 1624 has a blind three-light window. The parapeted W. gable has a stack, possibly 18th-century. Against this W. gable is a narrower, two-storey extension, now incorporated in the Matted Passage.
The Parlour, so named in 1691 (NRO, W(A) XII.6) is on a slightly different alignment from the E. wall of the cross wing, suggesting that it may be an early addition. On the E. it has a two-storey canted bay window with a plinth at a higher level and of different moulding from the rest of the range, indicating that this is a 16th-century addition; the ground-floor lights differ in detail from the upper, and originally had transoms. On the W. wall was a second canted bay window, of which only the S. jamb remains, concealed; it was transomed on the ground stage. To the N. of this window is a stair turret in the angle against the cross wing; it has been removed on the ground floor but the chamfered doorway from the parlour, and on the first floor its rubble walls with an embattled parapet, survive. Immediately S. of the oriel is a stack, probably 18th-century in its present form. The roof, of c. 1624, resembles that of the cross wing, and part of the barrel ceiling remains. The first-floor rooms were refitted c. 1850 and the ground floor altered in 1978.
To the W. of the parlour is a wing presumably of slightly later date; in 1858 it included the Steward's Room on the ground floor. In the S. wall windows include two 18th-century sashes with eared architraves, and an early 17th-century one-light window. The interior has been gutted since 1858, when an internal stack was removed. The roof is in two parts. That on the W. is much rebuilt but is probably 16th-century in origin; one truss has an uncambered collar clasping purlins and, originally, narrow arch braces. The E. section is of c. 1624, alternate pairs of rafters having braced cambered collars for a barrel ceiling.
To the S. of the parlour is a short range whose asymmetrical roof, on an E.–W. axis suggests that it may be the W. end of a wider range now demolished. The room is lit by a mid 19th-century bay window. In the W. wall is a blocked 16th-century doorway and at attic level are two mullioned windows, probably reset. The stair is approached on the S. by a chamfered 16th-century doorway; beside it is a contemporaneous two-light moulded window. Above is an early 18th-century window with eared architrave and unmoulded stone mullion and transom. Internally the stair has a wooden octagonal newel and rises to the attic where it is integral with the timber-frame partition wall; here the door has a rectangular stop-chamfered frame and is early 17th-century. The roof has its ridge nearer the N. wall and incorporates 16th-century rafters laid flat.
To the W. of the hall and parlour is the Matted Passage which runs parallel with the main range at first floor to reach the parlour cross wing. It is of 16th-century origin and retains some early floor joists. The W. wall, of masonry, is of two periods. The lower part, about 7 ft. (2.1 m.) high, retains some coping at the N. end and has two wide chamfered doorways, one opposite the hall porch, and one opposite a similar door to the cross wing. Rising above this is the contemporaneous gable of a short, lower and narrower extension of the cross wing, having a parapeted gable with a finial on the N. side, a loop, and at first-floor level, a stack added in 1851. It may have been a garderobe originally. The later, upper, part of the wall is also early 16th-century; the N. half has two two-light windows but in the S. half all windows are 19th-century or modern. Near the centre is a two-storey gabled projection originally containing a garderobe reached from the Matted Passage; it was extended S. in the 19th century and now contains a staircase. On the first floor is a 17th-century two-light window flanked by two triangular headed loops with chamfered surrounds, now blocked. Two galleries which run at first floor along the parlour cross wing and parlour link the Matted Passage to the former stair turret W. of the parlour. The date of these galleries is uncertain; all are timber-framed, part is hung with stone slates, and part is pargetted in imitation of wide-pointed ashlar, probably 18th-century. At the N. end of the Matted Passage is a twin-gabled block of three storeys incorporating the original hall porch and extending N. to the kitchen. To the S. of the porch is a short length of wall added against the buttress; it contains a chamfered doorway above which are two large corbels supporting a chamfered shelf. On the first floor is a 17th-century doorway with four-centred head in a rectangular frame leading to the enlarged room over the porch. The upper rooms were refitted in the 19th century.
The main range originally continued N. of the hall to contain a service room before it met the N. range, but this room was extended to the E. in the late 16th-century. It has a substantial axial ceiling beam; on the line of the original E. wall is a thinner beam the N. end of which rests on a corbel. The new E. wall has a moulded plinth and canted two-storey bay window with transoms on the ground stage; at first floor the window is continued for a further two lights on one side of the bay. Below, in the plinth, is a two-light chamfered window serving the cellar. The parapet is of c. 1623 and the additional area of the room has a flat leaded roof. Inside, is a reset 17th-century staircase with turned balusters. The room to the N. of the original service room is structurally part of the N. range, but the whole area N. of the hall was re-roofed in c. 1623 in line with the main range; on the first floor a single room was formed and became known from at least 1691 as the Old Dining Room. The room has a plaster barrel ceiling with a much restored 18th-century wooden cornice. In the S. wall, and now in the separate passage, is an early 17th-century doorway with four-centred head in a rectangular frame, leading to the hall gallery. The fireplace (Plate 90) at the N. end of the W. wall, set centrally within the former N. range, has a 17th-century plaster overmantel with a strapwork frieze supporting three armless terms with Ionic capitals, separating two round-headed arches containing coats of arms on strapwork panels. The shields are of Sir Frances Fane and his family alliances (Fane, Nevill of Abergavenny, Nevill of Bulmer, Despenser, Beauchamp, Warren, Clare and Nevill) and of his wife (Mildmay quartering Sherington). The stone fireplace surround is of c. 1740. The overmantel, and so perhaps the room itself, thus belongs to the time of Frances Fane, owner from 1617 to 1628.
The Kitchen is a single-storey block, wider than the adjacent ranges. The N. wall is straight-jointed against the N. range in the N.E. corner, suggesting extension or rebuilding; on the W. wall the parapet of c. 1623 can be seen to be an addition to a building originally with eaves. It is lit by three tall windows with late 17th or early 18th-century wooden frames; only the upper parts of the jambs have freestone dressings as the sills were lowered in c. 1700. Internally no fittings remain and the large fireplace on the E. wall is obscured. The roof is of the 18th century with butt-purlins.
The remainder of the N. range of the W. court is of 16th-century origin, much altered in the 17th century. It has three 17th-century gabled projections on the N. and a passage on the S., constructed in the 17th century but altered by Bryan Browning in the mid 19th century. The windows are mostly 19th-century except for one, in the central gabled projection, of two lights and with a rounded head. No internal fittings earlier than the 18th century remain.
The North Range consists of a central gateway of the late 15th century, a range of the same date to the W. and an 18th-century range containing the library to the E. (Plate 86). The gateway of three storeys consists of a single entrance passage with rooms above, and a stair turret. The archways are of similar profile; the N. arch, rebated for a gate, has continuous mouldings and is set within a rectangular frame with traceried spandrels. Above are windows of two and three lights. Added to each spandrel is a coat of arms within strapwork, on the E. of Mildmay, on the W. of Walsingham and alliances, for Sir Walter Mildmay, who doubtless added the arms, and Mary his wife. The other embellishments were added by Mildmay Fane, second Earl of Westmorland in 1653. To W. of the gate is a pedestal with vermiculated rustication and a round-headed niche surmounted by a griffin holding a fret, a supporter of Despenser. A similar pedestal, presumably with a bull, another supporter, was removed c. 1740 when the library was built. Above the gate is a mantled coat of arms with a coronet of Mildmay Fane and his second wife Mary de Vere, flanked by cornucopiae. The sill of the first-floor window is ornamented with two horizontal scrolls, the jambs with husks; on the top is a vermiculated pedestal flanked by scrolls and above are two cherubs holding a laurel wreath. Two palms flank the inscription '1653 PACE ET AMORE SUUM PALMA CORONAT OPVS'. On the S. the arch has chamfered jambs and moulded head, and above is a canted oriel supported on moulded corbelling and with a weathered stone roof; below the lights are panels with cusped saltires. The upper window is of two lights. The octagonal stair turret has a chamfered doorway with sunk spandrels; two moulded string-courses correspond with the floor levels of the gateway, and the stair is lit by loops. The turret and the tower have parapets of c. 1624 with finials, and the stair turret has a contemporary lead-covered ogee cap with wooden finial. On the S. face of the turret is a square sundial, perhaps 18th-century. The gate passage has a panelled ceiling of moulded wood ribs; openings in the walls are modern. On the first floor the Canopy Room, so called in 1838, has a quadripartite vault of uncertain date; the oriel is flanked by door recesses with continuous mouldings. The room above, called the Evidence Room in 1892, has a chamfered doorway with an early 19th-century plate-iron door; the fireplace has a four-centred head in a rectangular frame. The stair has mainly stone treads, some pierced for a bell rope. The cupola is formed on thin deep ribs and a central post, on a substantial framework.
The range W. of the gateway is also late 15th-century and survives in altered form. The S. elevation is in four bays reflecting the two rooms inside; jambs of an original upper window remain. The ground-floor windows are square with wooden mullion-and-transom frames of c. 1700 and stone cornices. The first-floor windows have early 19th-century sashes. One has a length of fluted lintel of c. 1624 reset upside down, suggesting refenestration of the whole elevation when the parapet was built with finials; the shaped near-central gable has a blind three-light window. The N. elevation encompasses the two rooms of this range and the gable of the Old Dining Room. A projection, probably a garderobe of the 16th-century has at first floor a blocked window, perhaps of the 17th century, and two 18th-century windows. It was extended a short distance to the W. before 1623; in this extension is a blocked loop at first floor. To the E. of the projection is a wide stack weathered on one side only, with a single flue. A twin-flue stack rises behind the garderobe projection, W. of which are three dissimilar 16th-century windows and a pilaster buttress; above are two 18th-century sash windows. Beneath the Old Dining Room gable are two tall sashes with ogee-moulded arrises; the sash frames were installed in 1716 (NRO, W(A) Misc. 3) and the openings may have been lengthened at that time; between them is a vertical strip of flush ashlar rising to the string of 1623 which is returned above these two windows. The shaped gable has a central blind oval window with ogee-moulded surround. Both the gable and the parapet have finials and date from c. 1623. Internally the range has two rooms on each floor, the first-floor rooms having panelling in two heights of the early 18th-century, perhaps before 1736. A lobby at the W. end of the suite of upper rooms has on the S. a round-headed arch with key block. The roof, divided by the masonry party wall, has principal rafters which diminish above clasped purlins, arch-braced collars, and wind-braces. Each roof has two bays flanked by half-bays; the W. roof has been remodelled and has a ridge-purlin. The scar for a cambered ceiling survives.
That part of the N. range E. of the gateway was rebuilt in c. 1740 in brick faced in stone as part of the seventh Earl's remodelling programme. The S. elevation (Plate 86) in the Roman Doric style, in four bays, has a heavily rusticated ground stage with almost square sash windows; the first floor has tall windows with continuous sills, pulvinated friezes and bold cornices; the wall is crowned by a shallow architrave, frieze with triglyphs and an overhanging cornice without a parapet. The N. elevation is of coursed rubble with freestone dressings, the windows having unmoulded projecting architraves. The ground-floor windows are almost square; above a platband are two tall windows flanked on either side by two square windows, one above the other. On two rainwater heads are frets and the date 1818. Internally the ground-floor rooms have 18th-century cornices and the central room has an 18th-century stone fireplace with shelf. On the first floor was the library; in the centre of the N. wall was a Palladian fireplace with Ionic columns supporting an entablature whose central tablet was surmounted by a small pediment; above, enriched pilasters, frieze and broken pediment framed a central circular clock face formed of some type of inlay. The ceiling was cambered and possibly coffered and had an enriched dentil cornice with pulvinated frieze. Recesses at each end of the room were flanked by doors, one at each end leading to closets. All the fittings of this room were destroyed in 1949.
The E. end of the range incorporates a 17th-century staircase and its associated walls retained from the earlier range on the site. The staircase (Plate 91) has symmetrical turned balusters, and at the top a landing with heavy turned newels and pendants, gives access to the attics in the E. range. Surviving above the flat roof over the Long Gallery is the N.E. corner of the parapet which had been added in c. 1623 to the 15th-century range.
The South Range has a ground-floor undercroft now sub-divided, and on the first floor a suite of state rooms of c. 1623. The N. elevation (Plate 87) of ashlar, dates from c. 1740, the original design envisaging a further bay to the W. to create symmetry. The front is in ten bays, the central three breaking forward under a pediment supported on engaged Roman Doric columns which rise from a first-floor platband. The design is generally the same as that of the range on the N. side of the courtyard, E. of the gateway, except that the windows between the columns have alternate straight and curved pediments; also, the central metopes are carved with crests of Cavendish (a serpent nowed) and Nevill (out of a ducal coronet a bull's head), and on the cornice is a parapet. At the E. end the cornice has return mouldings for the unexecuted refacing of the adjoining E. range.
The S. elevation is partly masked by Bryan Browning's conservatory of 1848; this is of three bays with mullion-and-transomed windows, and stands on an arcade of round arches on solid piers; the passage to the W. has smaller windows and round arches on columns. Browning's half-domed glazed roof was replaced by a flat roof and balustrade in 1904, and at the same time a second storey with gables was added to the S. front. The two stacks originally had two flues each, a third being added in 1904. The W. stack has octagonal flues and a high-level plinth which is continued W. as far as the E. stack: this work is presumably of c. 1562. To the E. the plinth is lower and of a different moulding. At the E. end is a projection with a canted bay window; the architectural details of this and the adjoining window are of c. 1623 and originally these windows lit the chapel. The first-floor window sills were all lowered in the early 18th-century. Internally the ground floor was formerly a flagged area with a row of square columns supporting plastered beams, all of c. 1740, but this arrangement has been destroyed recently. At either end is a heavily rusticated doorway. A room, the New Dining Room, was created at the E. end in 1876 (NRO, W(A) X2886). In 1892 this room was described as having a 13th-century fireplace moved here from the W. range of the W. courtyard (Sale Catalogue); this is presumably the fireplace engraved in Dollman and Jobbins, Ancient Domestick Architecture (1858) and now lost.
At the W. end is the White Stair; the present cantilevered stone stair is of c. 1848 by Bryan Browning, a rearrangement allowing access to his new servery next to the conservatory. It has stone treads and a plain ramped handrail. Some of the decorative plasterwork of c. 1740 remains; the stair then rose along the E. wall to a half-landing against the S. wall. There are recessed plaster panels below the line of the original stair, and panels with eared architraves above; the central panel on the S. wall has floral swags and a central mask. Narrow flanking panels have long garlands. Cornices below the landings and ceilings are enriched and dentilled. The first-floor wooden door-frames have pulvinated friezes and dentilled cornices. The ceiling is modern.
On the first floor is a suite of state rooms, of 1623, beginning at the W. end. The Great Dining Room, so called in 1691 but called New Great Chamber in 1629 (NRO, W(A) 6V. 142(a); XII.6), has a fireplace of 1562 (Plate 90) and presumably originated in a building by Sir Walter Mildmay. This clunch fireplace reaches to the ceiling. The rectangular opening and its flanking pilasters, decorated with sunk panels and roundels, have Ionic capitals; from the entablature rise two pairs of quasi-Ionic pilasters, the outer tapered and fluted, the inner with guilloche panels. Incorporated in the design are a crest of Mildmay (a greyhound's head) and initials, a lover's knot and motto of Walter Mildmay, and the arms of Mildmay and his wife (Walsingham); on the frieze are the initials W and M. The central strapwork panel within a bolection frame is inscribed with a six-line Latin verse with a play on the Mildmay motto, Virtute non vi, and the date 1562. The coved ceiling is decorated with strapwork between broad foliage-enriched ribs; in the pattern are several crests of Nevill, Despenser, Manners, Mildmay, and Fane; in c. 1740 a knotted serpent, for Cavendish, was added. Along the centre are three coats of arms on strapwork panels, for Fane impaling Mildmay, Fane impaling Nevill (Plate 92) and Nevill impaling Manners. Around the room is an enriched plaster cornice of c. 1740.
The Drawing Room, so called in 1691 but called the Best Drawing Chamber in 1629, has 17th-century scratch-moulded panelling in six heights and a cutwork frieze of uncertain date. The fireplace (Plate 88) is of oolite with black marble insets. Two Ionic columns flanking the rectangular opening are encircled by crowns; between them is a panel carved with an open book flanked by two arms issuing from clouds, one arm holding a sword, the other a sceptre. Above an entablature are two pedestals supporting statues in niches; one holds an anchor-stock, the other, now missing, held a book and a cylindrical object. Between is a shaped panel containing a bas-relief of the Sacrifice of Isaac (Plate 89). On either side of the fireplace is a four-light mullion-and-transom window, the W. being broken through to provide access to the conservatory in 1848. The coved ceiling has a fretwork of broad plain ribs decorated with paterae, enclosing crests and coats of arms on strapwork. The arms are Nevill of Abergavenny impaling Fenn; Nevill of Abergavenny impaling Beauchamp; Beauchamp impaling Despenser; Beauchamp impaling Nevill of Essex. The crests are of Despenser, Nevill, Beauchamp and Fenn.
The King's Room, called King's Chamber in 1629 and 1691 and King's Bedroom in 1762 (NRO, W(A) 7–XV) has 17th-century panelling in six heights and a plain frieze. The ceiling (Plate 92) has a central deep cove, flanked by two flats on the N. and S. with plain geometrical ribbed decoration. The cove is ornamented with strapwork and in the centre is a large panel containing the Stuart Royal Arms with supporters and crest. The fireplace (Plate 88) of fine oolite has black marble insets; the supporting columns are probably of Alwalton Marble, their Ionic capitals of limestone. Below the pulvinated frieze is a bas-relief of a deer-hunting scene (Plate 90). Above the frieze, two terms hold back the drapery of a canopy to reveal allegorical figures of Peace and War, the one holding an olive branch, the other a sword; above hovers a cherub holding a crown (Plate 89). Beside War is a lion with a damaged figure said to be a lamb; beside Peace, a group, now lost, was said to be of a child and a cockatrice (NRO, W(A) Misc. Vol. 37).
The East Range (Plate 85) of two storeys and attics, was built entirely by Frances Fane in 1623. The walls are of ashlar and the elevations are symmetrical; on each storey the mullion-and-transom windows have straight hood-moulds surmounted by a fluted band, and above is a moulded string which encircles the whole range, breaking forward over the windows. The parapet rises above a cavetto string, and is interrupted by panelled dies supporting finials. The shaped gables with finials contain untransomed windows decorated as those below.
The E. elevation is divided by two chimneys each with twin stacks; with the exception of the middle ground-floor part, each section has a two-light window flanked by two four-light windows on each floor, and the parapet is surmounted by gables in the centre and at each end. On the S. the plinth rises above blocked cellar windows. The ground stage in the centre was originally a five-bay arcade of which the central arch survives with jewelled keystone and plain fielded spandrels. In 1859 E. Browning replaced the arcade by a wall with mullioned windows; this was removed and the original arrangement reconstructed by Blomfield in 1913. The central porch has plain pilasters, two pairs of Roman Doric columns in Northampton Sand Ironstone, a frieze with irregular-spaced triglyphs and rosettes, and a balustrade with symmetrical balusters surmounted by a female bust. The first-floor window sills were lowered in 1703. Three lead rainwater heads bear the date 1624. On the roof are 18th-century gabled dormers. The N. and S. elevations are similar, having two-storey bay windows; the N. bay window is three-lights tall, the string of the parapet returning over the window. The first-floor sills on the S. were lowered in 1703. On the S. the return on the W. has a twin-flue stack, blocked windows, and a door with four-centred head.
The W. elevation, to the courtyard, is also symmetrical. The end bays break forward slightly to flank the nine-bay arcade; on the first floor the pattern of four and two-light windows is repeated on either side of the two-storeyed porch, and the parapet is crowned by three gables each with a blind three-light window. The flanking bays have a high plinth in three stages incorporating a row of quatre-foiled circles apparently of 1623. The moulded plinth returns in order to meet that of the now-demolished adjoining wings; on the N. the returns are also visible on the string courses, while on the S. is a straight-joint just short of the corner of the courtyard. The original arcade was destroyed in 1913 when Blomfield designed the present replacement. Formerly there were round half-columns against piers supporting round arches with jewelled keystones and plain fielded spandrels. Only the central arch remains. The frieze, with alternate squares and circles, survives, and is continued round the porch. The porch has paired pilasters against the range, and two pairs of Doric columns of Northampton Sand Ironstone on panelled pedestals. Within the reveals of the arch are the scars of two round-headed niches, filled by Browning in 1859. On the first floor is a six-light window; in the parapet is a coat of arms and crests of Despenser impaling Mildmay surmounted by a panel inscribed '1623'. Internally the ground stage originally consisted of two unequal loggias flanked by rooms. The loggias were separated by a spine wall, in which were round-headed niches, eleven on the W. and four on the E., and two more flanking each central opening (plan in VCH). Access to the room on the S. was by round-headed doors with jewelled keystones and flanking pilasters supporting an entablature. There was probably a similar door at the N. end of each loggia. The spine wall was removed by Browning in 1859 when he made the loggias into an entrance hall, blocking the W. arcade with a glazed timber partition. The S. doors were removed by Blomfield in 1913, when he replanned the entrance hall. The rooms to the N. have been rearranged: the N. room, called the White Bedroom in 1892, has an early 18th-century wooden fireplace surround.
To the S. there is a cellar of five unequal bays with an elliptical vault and chamfered ribs rising from pilasters with chamfered capitals and bases. There are jewelled bosses at the intersections with the axial rib. Two windows high in the E. wall are accommodated in cross-vaults. On the ground floor were two rooms separated by a stair. The N. room, called the Tapestry Hall in 1892, now contains the staircase incorporating reused early 17th-century newels (Plate 91) installed by Mr. Brassey in 1922; the S. room, called the Despenser Room in 1838 (NRO, W(A) Misc. Vol. 37), has damaged and restored early 17th-century panelling in four heights. The fireplace has a stone four-centred head in a rectangular frame, and a wooden overmantel, heavily restored, with four attached columns supporting a cutwork frieze and flanking two panels each containing a fret for Despenser in wood inlay. The intervening stair has been removed on the ground floor.
On the first floor the S. room was called the Prince's Room in 1892 but was the Duke's Chamber in 1629 and the Duke's Room in 1691 and 1762. Both names derive from the iconography of the fireplace (Plate 88) which is of fine oolite with black marble insets. Two pilasters support an entablature and a broken pediment. Between the pilasters is a panel carved with a heart-shaped shield surrounded by strapwork and bearing three ostrich feathers issuing from a crown; flanking this are two arms, one bearing an anchor, the other a ducal coronet. On the slopes of the broken pediment were two reclining figures, with a trumpet and a wreath; both have been lost since 1909. Within the open pediment is a marble inset above which rises a pedimented slab carved with an armed ship in full sail (Plate 89). The fireplace is held, plausibly, to refer to the voyage made to Spain in 1623 by the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Buckingham in order to negotiate a marriage between the Prince and the Infanta. The room was probably intended for occupation by the Duke of Buckingham, the King's favourite. The room has a flat ceiling with strapwork and small pendants between broad ribs ornamented with bunches of grapes. Below the dentilled cornice is a deep frieze with strapwork incorporating demi-figures, a defaced coat of arms, and the bull and griffin crests of Despenser (Plate 93). To the N. of this room is a stair incorporating some 18th-century work. The Oak Stair occupies the site of the King's Closet but dates from 1922 as does the ceiling above. Of the two doors from here to the Gallery only that on the W. is original.
The Long Gallery has early 17th-century panelling in seven heights and a jewelled cutwork frieze (Plate 91). Each window is flanked by fluted Corinthian pilasters with jewelled bases and a grotesque mask at frieze level. Two further pilasters' are set asymmetrically on the S. wall. The ceiling has a geometrical pattern of crosses and octagons defined by narrow ribs. The fireplace (Plate 88) is of fine oolite with black marble insets: two Ionic columns support an entablature and broken pediment out of which rises a statue in a niche flanked by figures and columns. Below the entablature two demi-females holding pendant bunches of fruit, support a marble slab inscribed:
Out of the broken pediment rises a round-headed niche with cherubs in the spandrels, containing a statue of King David playing a harp. Reclining on the slopes of the broken pediment are two female figures, one holding a pair of scales, the other a drum (?). Above them in low relief is a severed male head and a sword (for Goliath), and a sling and pouch. Flanking this upper stage and supporting the final entablature are two composite columns each encircled by a wreath of fruits.
The roof is asymmetrical, with knee-rafters on the E. side to make space for a parapet walk; the angles of the knee-rafters are strengthened by brackets, and there are butt-purlins and collars. The roof does not cover the full length of the range; the attic walls are timber-framed and there is a wooden ovolo-moulded three-light window on the N. wall. The two large areas of lead flats on the N. and S. form a promenade linked by the parapet walk which passes beneath small roofs behind the gables on the E. wall, so providing shelter. On the rear face of each gable are two round-headed recesses or seats (Plate 86).
The Orangery (Plate 87) was built in 1718–19; the design may be by John Lumley, who was described as the Earl of Westmorland's 'overseer' at Apethorpe when employed at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in 1719 (Colvin, Dictionary, p. 529); the principal freemason was John Dimbleby who also provided much freestone and the joiner was Thomas Blowfield (NRO, W(A) Misc. Vol. 3). In 1913 a ground-floor passage was built against the N. wall, and perhaps about this time an internal first-floor passage was constructed. In 1949 it was divided into two storeys and the windows destroyed. The S. wall, faced in ashlar, is of nine bays having tall windows, originally with wooden sashes, and plain architraves; the central window served as a door. Above a cornice is a panelled parapet with small urns. The N. wall of rubble has modern openings, but originally it was blind, save for a door at each end. The roof is stone slated with a broad central lead flat.
The West Range in the W. courtyard (Plate 84) is of two storeys, of coursed rubble and early 16th-century origin. The gables are parapeted, their apex finials having gablets. The E. elevation has an original door with pyramid stops to its continuous chamfer, and to the S. is a two-light window without hood-mould. Four of the five first-floor windows are original and similar. Apart from two 17th-century three-light windows on the ground floor, all other openings are modern. The roof, formerly open to the first-floor rooms, is partly inaccessible; there are butt-purlins and unchamfered arch braces to cambered collars. There seems to have been a large first-floor room at the S. end.
Gardens and Deer Park. Although gardens were created in the 16th and 17th centuries, no attempt was made to create a landscaped park or garden until 1908 when Blomfield designed the present lake. John Byng in 1790 noted 'open cornfields opposite without a tree planted; a river running thro' a rushy morass, and a ruinous mill' (Torrington Diaries (1935), II, p. 248). The layout of the gardens in the early 18th century is shown on a drawing of 1721 and an undated plan (Country Life, 20 March 1909, 416; (Fig. 23), NRO, W(A) Misc. Vol. 37) and much of this can still be traced. The land rises to the S., and on this side, centred on the range of 1623, was a square 'Bowling Green' flanked by parterres called 'flower gardens' and overlooked from the W. by a garden house. Semicircular steps led up from the bowling green to a terrace running along the S. side of these gardens; beyond was a broad 'Walk ornamented with statues', flanked by yews which still survive, and separating two more parterres on the W. and E. The W. boundary wall, of brick, dates from 1714 (NRO, W (A) Misc. Vol. 5). To the E. of the Gallery range lay the Gravel Garden, now overlain by Blomfield's entrance court of 1908. This was clearly the Privy Garden and was enclosed by walls and had walks on three sides terminating in the E. corners in pyramidal-roofed pavilions. A moat with an island and a 'Wilderness' in the midst of whose trees stood an urn on a pedestal, stood to the E. but both have vanished.
The deer park is first mentioned in 1543, by which time it was enclosed by wall and pale and stocked with fallow deer (NRO, W(A) I.XII–14; 4.XVI–5). Nearby in the S. of the parish was a freehay where the owner had hunting rights, on the site of the village of Hale, and which seems to have become united with the park by 1575 (NRO, W(A) 7.XV). In 1620 Frances Fane received by exchange from the king 14 acres in Morehay which had already been taken into Apethorpe Red Deer Park (PRO, IND/6746). Presumably therefore it was about this time that James I gave Fane verbal permission to enlarge Apethorpe Park by enclosing 300 acres (125 hectares) of royal forest because the original park was not large enough for James' enjoyment of the hunt (Cal. S. P. Dom. (1634–5) p. 241; NRO, W(A) 4. VIII–3; 2.XIII– 4). The Great Pond, probably an original feature of the park, had boats on it in 1659. There was a deer-lodge which by 1700 had been converted to a barn, and the place-name Kingstanding points to a stand on the hill presumably in the early 17th century (NRO, W(A) 6.XII; Misc. Vols. 4 and 5). Both cattle and deer grazed the park in 1679, and a survey of 1715 probably preceded the conversion of the park to agricultural use (NRO, W(A) 6. VI.2; Misc. Vol. 5).
Stables. To N.E. of the house are two predominantly two-storey ranges at right angles to each other affording stabling, a tack room and a coachhouse, early 19th-century. To S. of these is an attached single-storey structure with ovolo-moulded mullioned windows, 17th-century. In the centre of the yard is a granary of two storeys and attics and a two-storey two-room house with chamfered mullioned windows, 17th or early 18th-century.
Dovecote (Plate 128), to N. of the hall, circular, of coursed rubble with deep moulded ashlar cornice, brick nesting boxes and stone-slated roof was built in 1740 for the Earl of Westmorland by Edward Frame, mason, of Woodnewton (NRO, W(A) 7.XV). Converted to a water tower in the present century; the glover is now a glazed lantern.
(4) The Old Post Office, two storeys, class 1b, end-on to the street, parapeted gable on the W., hipped on the E. where it joins an adjacent range at right angles; 17th-century. Four-light mullioned window with label, twin-flue ashlar stack. Inside, the E. room has an ovolo-moulded, wave-stopped cross beam.
(5) Wood Cottage, one storey and attics, thatched, L-shaped plan. The N. room with a wide fireplace in the gable wall, with recesses and a'seat to one side, is 17th-century. The two-room cross wing may also be 17th-century but the internal arrangement is later.
(7) Post Office, single storey and attics, originated in the 17th or early 18th century at the W. end of the site. It was extended to the E. in the 18th century and again in the 19th century when a single-storey non-domestic range was added on the E. and a two-storey domestic wing in stretcher bond brickwork on the S. Also in the 19th century the S. part of the original range was rebuilt as a separate two-room tenement. An ashlar stack of at least 18th-century date on the N. gable of this original range serves a first-floor corner fireplace. The E. range is 18th century; the W. room was sub-divided in the early 19th century to give an entrance lobby and a small room with counter, perhaps a former bar.
(8) Manor House (Plate 98), early 18th-century, said to have been built for the agent to the Earls of Westmorland (VCH, Northants. II, 543). It is of two storeys with a basement and attics and has an L-shaped plan with front range of class 6. The five-bay front has a first-floor platband, two-light mullioned and transomed windows, parapeted gables and a wooden bracketed cornice. The central entrance has a surround simply ornamented with channels and a central lozenge; above, an inserted fanlight is flanked by consoles supporting a pediment, probably reset. (Not entered)
(12) Row, of one storey and attics, comprises a two-room house of the 17th century, with thatched roof, much altered in the 19th century, and to the S. a single-room house of the 18th century which was later extended to form a class 1b dwelling. The 17th-century house has pigeon-holes with alighting ledges occupying much of one gable.
(13) Blue Field Lodge (TL 033964). Barn (Fig. 25), aisled, with rubble gables and timber-framed side walls on rubble base, thatched roof, was built by the Earl of Westmorland in 1723. The masonry, by John Dimbleby, cost £31.13.9. and the thatching, by Robert Bulmer, £6.18.0. (NRO, W(A) Misc. Vol. II). The parapeted gable walls have five tiers of ventilating slits. The roof has two trusses with long braces which rise to tie beams and arcade plates; above the tie beams are collars and raking struts, and the ridge piece is held by a short collar below it; staggered butt-purlins. Hipped-roofed porches cover the high entrance doors.
(14) Cheeseman's Lodge (TL 019944; Fig. 26), of two storeys, was probably built as a park-keepers' lodge in the mid 17th century. The park was created before 1543 and enlarged in about 1620, but declined, possibly after James I's last visit to Apethorpe. By the early 18th century it had become grazing land and arable. In 1700 the lodge was leased to John Tookey of Apethorpe along with 278 acres (116 hectares) of pasture and various outbuildings including a 'deer lodge converted to a barn' (NRO W(A) 6.XII). In 1864 the N. part was added and the E. wing built, probably replacing an original wing (date slab, 'WR 1864'); the style conformed with the earlier section.
The house has always been one of high quality. The 17th-century part to the S. with its main front on the W. has two two-storey bay windows with canted sides and gables; the central doorway has a stone surround with four-centred head in a rectangular frame and the windows have ovolo-moulded mullions. A former bay window on the S. has been replaced by a four-light flush window re-using some of the mullions. Inside, the S. room has a moulded axial beam with urn stops. The stone fireplace has a four-centred opening in a rectangular frame with a shelf. A chamfered cross beam in the N. room has bar-stops. The staircase of 1864 incorporates symmetrically turned balusters and square newels of the 17th century.
(15) Halefield Lodge (TL 048933), one storey and attics, class 1a, parapeted gables, thatched roof, 17th-century; converted to two dwellings in the early 19th century. The interior has two wide fireplaces, and cross and axial chamfered beams.