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Barlborough Hall, Derbyshire

  • Pete Smith

This article examines the architectural evolution of Barlborough Hall from its construction in 1583 to the present day, using a number of previously unpublished documents, mostly from the Locker-Lampson Collection. It also discusses a painting in the British Library which indicates that the house was once prefaced by ranges of forecourt buildings, and it outlines the various alterations made to the house and garden between 1696 and 1714, identifying the architect responsible for at least some of these changes as John Hallam. The most important source of new information is an album of drawings by Lindley, Woodhead & Hurst of 1815, which records the building in detail before further alterations completed in 1825. These drawings also permit reconstructions of the likely design and appearance of the original house. The relatively minor additions in the mid-nineteenth century and the alterations made to the building since it became a school in 1938 are also outlined.

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1 Girouard, Mark, ‘Barlborough Hall’, Archaeological Journal, 118 (1961), pp. 223–27; Barlborough, Chesterfield’, Country Life, 8 (27 October 1900), pp. 528–34; Craven, Maxwell and Stanley, Michael, The Derbyshire Country House (Derby, 1991), pp. 2627; Thompson, James and Jessop, Oliver, ‘Structural Watching Brief, Barlborough Hall, Derbyshire’, University of Sheffield ARCUS Report 1305.1 (10) (October 2009); Jessop, Oliver and Thompson, James, ‘Archaeological Watching Brief, Barlborough Hall, Barlborough, Derbyshire’, Wessex Archaeology (October 2010), Ref: 75850.04; Thompson, James and Jessop, Oliver, ‘Heritage Appraisal, Barlborough Hall, Ward Lane, Barlborough, Derbyshire’, Wessex Archaeology (November 2010), Ref: 75850.03.

2 This album and much of the new information discussed in this article was collected by Tony Baks from the uncatalogued Locker-Lampson Collection. Copies of all the documents referred to are deposited with the Barlborough Heritage & Resource Centre, 1 Ward Lane, Barlborough S43 4JD.

3 British Library [hereafter BL], Add MS 19,915, f. 30.

4 I led a Study Day for the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain on 24 July 2010 and the results were written up briefly (but expertly) by Molyneux, Nick in SAHGB Newsletter, 101 (Autumn 2010), pp. 1113.

5 Girouard, Mark, Robert Smythson and the Architecture of the Elizabethan Era (London, 1966), pp. 109–13; Girouard, ‘Barlborough Hall’, p. 227.

6 Although Mark Girouard stated in 1966 that ‘there can be little doubt that he [Robert Smythson] supplied the plans’, he has recently expressed definite doubts about this attribution: Girouard, Robert Smythson, p. 110, and personal correspondence.

7 There is also the date ‘1583’ on the coat-of-arms on the central bay of the east front, though this was only installed after 1815. It is not shown in Lindley, Woodhead & Hurst's album and its previous location is unknown.

8 Barlborough Hall was completed in 1584, Worksop Manor in 1586 and Wollaton Hall in 1588.

9 J.H. Baker, ‘Rodes, Francis (1524/5–1589)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography [hereafter ODNB] (online version accessed January 2008).

10 Philip Riden, Victoria County History, Derbyshire, ‘Draft Text in Progress, Barlborough’ (online version accessed June 2011), p. 28.

11 London, The National Archives, PRO PROB 11/74.

12 Lichfield Record Office, B/C/11, Sir John Rodes 1639; Girouard, ‘Barlborough Hall’, pp. 223–27. On the ownership of the house, see Craven and Stanley, The Derbyshire Country House, and Riden, Victoria County History, Derbyshire.

13 Anon, Memories of Barlborough Hall School, 1939–2009 (n.d.), p. 7.

14 A photograph in the Historic England Archive, Swindon (formerly National Monuments Record), catalogued as Barlborough Hall, Derbyshire (Card Reference No. 0810_47) shows a chimneypiece with an eighteenth-century marble surround and a sixteenth-century carved wooden overmantel. The overmantel consists of two panels containing coats-of-arms flanked by caryatids. However, this chimneypiece does not appear to relate to any of the rooms within Barlborough today and it would seem likely that it has been misfiled.

15 Girouard, ‘Barlborough Hall’, p. 227.

16 Girouard refers to this frieze as containing ‘what appear to be dolphins’. Made from block moulds, they seem to have been erected sideways, possibly in order to fit into an already existing plain frieze; ibid., p. 225.

17 Girouard, Robert Smythson, p. 113.

18 The east elevation in Figure 8 shows the left-hand window on the chamber floor with four lights. This window today has six lights (matching the one on the right). There is no indication that this window has ever been altered or replaced, which suggests the drawing is inaccurate. The elevation has been digitally corrected in Figure 12.

19 Any surviving evidence of these possible structural problems is hidden behind the present render.

20 I would like to thank Jennifer Alexander who brought this picture to my attention.

21 BL, Add MS 19,915, f. 30. The inscription is written over an earlier and smaller inscription saying the same words. At the bottom in pencil ‘Purch'd of Boone 12 Aug 1854/ with Powell's’. This watercolour survives among the antiquarian notes made for the Rev. Powell in the later eighteenth century which are now deposited in the British Library. These notes concern local churches and other antiquities, although they make no direct reference to this image or to Barlborough.

22 The copyist presumably found this date recorded on the picture and assumed that it referred to the year the picture was painted.

23 It has been suggested that these forecourt buildings were never built (Thompson and Jessop, ‘Heritage Appraisal’, p. 8), but it would seem most unlikely that this painting is a fantasy or an unbuilt proposal.

24 Locker-Lampson Collection (uncatalogued).

25 Locker-Lampson Collection (uncatalogued).

26 The 1671 Hearth Tax Returns for Barlborough Hall record twenty-one hearths (Craven and Stanley, The Derbyshire Country House, p. 27), which accounts for all the hearths in the Smythson house. This might suggest the forecourt buildings had been demolished by this date or simply that the forecourt buildings contained no fireplaces, as there are no chimney stacks visible in Powell's picture.

27 The dates 1610 and 1633 appear internally: Craven and Stanley, The Derbyshire Country House, p. 28; Hartwell, Clare, Pevsner, Nikolaus and Williamson, Elizabeth, The Buildings of England, Derbyshire (New Haven and London, 2016), pp. 148–49.

28 Girouard, Robert Smythson, p. 104, n. 18, and pl. 58.

29 Locker-Lampson Collection (uncatalogued).

30 This room also has a mid-eighteenth-century chimneypiece probably installed when the thinner glazing bar and larger panes of glass were inserted into the sash windows.

31 For example, the ramped dado panelling to the basement stair and the dado panelling in the great chamber bay window.

32 Early photographs show that these windows then contained plate glass and that the present glazing bars were installed during the restoration work of 1952–56.

33 These gates are clearly shown on Joseph Dickinson's survey of the Barlborough estate dated 1723: Derbyshire Record Office [hereafter DRO], D505/72.

34 Locker-Lampson Collection (uncatalogued).

35 Both the estate surveys were produced by Joseph Dickinson in 1723, despite one being dated 1727: DRO, D505/72/8, D6623/1.

36 Barlborough Heritage & Resource Centre, BHC. Grimm 5.

37 Girouard (‘Barlborough Hall’, p. 224) referred to an ‘old plan’, which he had not seen, showing a staircase in this same position. He conjectured that this might have been the original arrangement. The position of this stair, off the dais end of the hall, would have been quite normal if it had led to the great chamber on the floor above. In this case the great chamber is on the same level as the hall, so a stair here would have been unnecessary.

38 A Quaker Postbag, Letters to Sir John Rodes of Barlborough Hall, in the County of Derby, Baronet, and to John Gratton of Monyash 1693–1742, ed. Mrs Lampson, G. Locker (London, 1910), p. 42.

39 Colvin, Howard, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600–1840, 4th edition (New Haven and London, 2008), p. 469; Doole, Megan, ‘John Hallam — “A poor mean Country Joyner” of Nottinghamshire’, Quarterly Newsletter of the Thoroton Society, 88 (Summer 2017), pp. 1416.

40 Dugdale, Alice, ‘John Hallam: “a poor mean country joiner”’, Georgian Group Journal, VII (1997), pp. 3742.

41 Copies at Barlborough Heritage & Resource Centre.

42 John H. Farrant, ‘Grimm, Samuel Hieronymus’, ODNB (online version accessed January 2008).

43 DRO, PTPD101896-8.

44 Locker-Lampson Collection (uncatalogued).

45 The architectural partnership of Lindley, Woodhead & Hurst became Woodhead & Hurst on the death of William Lindley in 1819, so presumably the drawing dates to after this. See Angus C. Taylor, ‘Lindley[Lyndeley], William’, ODNB (online version accessed May 2009); Geoffrey K. Brandwood, ‘Hurst, William’, ODNB (online version, 2004); Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600–1840, pp. 550–51, 654–56 and 1145.

46 The fact that the great chamber now has a second chimneypiece on its south wall may suggest that the southern end of this room was partitioned off at some time.

47 Thompson and Jessop, ‘Structural Watching Brief’, p. 8.

48 Locker-Lampson Collection (uncatalogued).

49 DRO, D239 M/F 8566.

50 The Lysons state that ‘The inside has been modernised’ in 1817, although this may refer to the later eighteenth-century works: D. & S. Lyson, Magna Britannia, vol. 5, 1817, p. ccxl.

51 DRO, PTP/DCHQ/003111.

52 Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600–1840, p. 1126.

53 The ‘whole length portraits’ recorded by Willement no longer survive: Willement, Thomas, A Concise Account of the Principal Works in Stained Glass That Have Been Executed By Thomas Willement (London, 1840), p. 31.

54 DRO, D505/73/4–10.

55 DRO, D505/73/1, 2, 3 and 12.

56 The large north garden is shown as still surviving on the Tithe Map of Barlborough Parish in 1839: DRO, D2630/DL.

57 DRO, D505/73/11.

58 Jones’ Views of the Seats, Mansions, Castles etc. of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of England, 5 vols (London, 1824–29), I, BB 2.

59 DRO, D505/72/8 and D6623/1.

60 A number of fragments of carved stone columns and capitals that once formed this door surround, known as the Whitehouse stones, survive in the grounds.

61 Locker-Lampson Collection (uncatalogued).

62 Molyneux, SAHGB Newsletter, p. 12.

63 This structure is now unsafe and I have not been able to gain access to view this chimneypiece. The photograph of this chimneypiece was taken in 1951, NMR AA52/577. Hartwell, Pevsner & Williamson, Derbyshire, p. 148; Girouard, ‘Barlborough Hall’, p. 227.

64 It is not certain that this was the original way the roof was accessed. It has been suggested that the main semicircular stair may have continued up into the lantern. Powell's picture indicates what might be a doorway in the lantern, though there is no sign of this doorway in the lantern today (Molyneux, SAHGB Newsletter, p. 12).

65 For example, Wollaton Hall in Nottinghamshire and Charlecote Park in Warwickshire were both remodelled around 1700 and again in the early years of the nineteenth century.

66 Girouard, ‘Barlborough Hall’, p. 227.

67 Locker-Lampson Collection (uncatalogued).

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Architectural History
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