Gunthorpe Hall

By Jayne Amat

Despite its unusual and intriguing appearance, very little appears to have been written about Gunthorpe Hall. Instead this attractive house, which resembles a miniature castle, has proved irresistible to photographers and its image has been reproduced on countless postcards. Most of the information given here has been taken from directories, census returns, maps and newspapers.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Gunthorpe Hall' page

According to the listed building description, grade II listed Gunthorpe Hall was built in the mid-18th century and its crenellations and stuccoed exterior certainly reflect the Gothick style so popular at the time. There may have been an older version of the hall in existence, possibly on a different site. The Blyth Cartulary records a grant dated 1086-87 from Roger de Builli (sometimes spelt Busli) to Blyth Priory of ”one-third of the hall (tithes) of Gunthorpe.”

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Gunthorpe Hall' page

Little is known about the early occupants of the hall. The first reference I could find is to a gentleman called Samuel Wright, great-grandson of the banker Ichabod Wright, who lived at Gunthorpe Hall in 1824 (a letter from his cousin J.C. Wright in the Middleton Collection at Manuscripts and Special Collections, The University of Nottingham confirms this). Samuel and his cousin J.C. Wright owned most of the land in Gunthorpe at this time.


Photo:Frank Drakes

Frank Drakes

Courtesy of C. Drakes

Photo:Emily Kate ('Daisy') - wife of Frank Drakes

Emily Kate ('Daisy') - wife of Frank Drakes

Courtesy of C. Drakes

Photo:Frank Drakes in his South Notts Hussars uniform, 1914-15

Frank Drakes in his South Notts Hussars uniform, 1914-15

Courtesy of C. Drakes

Photo:Fireplace at Gunthorpe Hall

Fireplace at Gunthorpe Hall

Courtesy of C. Drakes

Photo:Mrs Drakes with son Richard and daughter Nora, about 1921

Mrs Drakes with son Richard and daughter Nora, about 1921

Courtesy of C. Drakes

During the 1860s, William Gentle, farmer and maltster, was in residence. Charles Turner, another farmer, subsequently purchased the hall. An unfortunate dispute between Mr Turner and a brick maker called William Duke, over the cost of building a wall at the hall, was recorded in the Nottinghamshire Guardian newspaper in August 1880.

In 1881, Mr Turner put the house, barns, stables, gardens and grounds up for sale. A series of auction advertisements in the Nottinghamshire Guardian newspaper reveal the details and give us some idea of the extent of the property and grounds. Gunthorpe Hall was described as an “excellent freehold residential property……containing on the ground floor, large entrance hall, dining room, drawing room, breakfast room, kitchen and scullery. The upper storey contains nine bed-rooms. The cellarage is excellent, and attached to the premises are extensive Farm Buildings, Barn, Stables, and other suitable out-premises, together with a large walled Garden well stocked with excellent fruit trees. Also about 20a[cres] 2r[oods] 13p[erches] of superior Land adjacent to the above residence, which is about eight miles from Nottingham….” Interested parties were invited to contact the owner to arrange a viewing.


Also on offer was Mr Turner’s farming stock of eight “beasts”, three horses (including a thoroughbred) and three pigs, together with farming implements, carriages, a dogcart, a liquid manure cart, harnesses, horse rugs, and a whip. Finally, Mr Turner instructed the contents of the hall to be auctioned on 9th March 1882. These included Staffordshire and Broseley china, a carver oak cabinet, pianoforte, and mahogany dining room chairs and table. Why Mr Turner embarked on such a drastic sale is not clear.


Subsequent residents of the hall were manufacturer Arthur Joseph Rodgers (1885-86); William Luxby, bleacher and dyer (1891); Tom Kirk, corn merchant and John Kirk, farmer and corn merchant (1894-1904); and William Lewin and Elizabeth Morris Lewin (1908-1912). Key dates have been taken from directories and census returns.


Gunthorpe Hall’s next known owner was Frank Drakes and a member of the Drakes family has kindly provided the following information. Born in Bassingham, Lincolnshire, in 1889, Frank worked as a rancher in Canada and upon his return to England in 1910, as a fishmonger and Master Butcher in Nottingham. Frank purchased Gunthorpe Hall in about 1914 and lived there with his wife Emily Kate ‘Daisy’ and son Richard. Daughters Nora and Joan were later born at the hall. Frank farmed a substantial amount of land in Gunthorpe and during WWI served with the South Notts Hussars.  In addition to the hall, the Drakes family also maintained a home in Canada and they travelled frequently between the two properties. Frank sold Gunthorpe Hall in about 1927 and the sale of the contents, which included valuable antiques, suits of armour and stags heads, took three days. Unfortunately, due to the poor weather, very few purchasers attended the sale.


 An interesting story passed down through the Drakes family suggests that Gunthorpe Hall was moved to its present site just after Oliver Cromwell’s time and that a tunnel ran from the house (underneath the River Trent) to nearby Shelford Manor. 


After the Drakes family’s departure, the hall was subsequently occupied by John Haseldine (1928) and farmer Miss M. Houghton (sometimes spelt Houfton) (1932-1969).


In 1989, Gunthope Hall was again up for sale. The accommodation included an entrance hall with domed ceiling and decorative plasterwork, drawing room, dining room, sitting room, breakfast kitchen, breakfast room, four bedrooms (one accessed via a cast iron spiral staircase) and an attic room. Outside, the grounds extended to about one acre and included a heated swimming pool.


Today, Gunthorpe Hall is still a family home and continues to attract the attention of those passing by.


This page was added by Website Administrator on 10/03/2015.
Comments about this page

My family now own the hall in Gunthorpe, Mr and Mrs Moore

By Emily burbidge
On 08/02/2016

My Aunt Madge Houfton lived at Gunthorpe Hall until her death in the 1960s. She never married but lived with a lady named Dolly Taylor. I remember visiting Gunthorpe Hall in the 1940s where my aunt manufactured and sold ice cream. Very good it was too from what I remember. Madge had three sisters and a brother, George (my father). They all lived at Papplewick Hall from 1919 - 1925. The name Houfton is original and dates back to the mid 1700s. It has never had any other spelling since then although is is commonly misspelled today. More family information can be found on the ourmansfieldandarea website for anyone interested.

By Ben Houfton
On 24/07/2017

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