2009 marks the Quincentenary of the accession, and the first of six marriages, of King Henry VIII in 1509. We can follow in his footsteps because he travelled from
The royal party came to the timber framed manor house at Gainsborough and stayed four days before crossing the
The remainder of the Hall was not for public consumption, it was reserved for the great family and their guests. In the brick tower chamber, you can see where the Grey Lady died of a broken heart and whose ghost haunts the building looking for her lover, whom she was denied. Go and look at the garde robes (toilets) used by the great family, but not by King Hal, as he had his own potty which was the responsibility of a servant called the Groom of the Stool who attended him. Many people enquire, “Where did the King sleep?” but he did not sleep in any of the beds made up today. The King brought his own bed, which had been reinforced to hold his excessive weight. In modern terms, he was obese. He would most likely have slept down on the ground floor, possibly the space now used as the tea shop, because he would not have been able to cope with the stairs!
King Henry had six wives. His last wife, Katherine Parr, is associated with Lord Burgh’s Old Hall. At 16 she had married Lord Burgh’s eldest son, Sir Edward Burgh, however he died after three years leaving Katherine Parr a widow. Sir Edward is buried in a vault in All Saints’ Church which is within a stones throw of the Old Hall and well worth a visit. The church tower is 15c and King Henry would have seen it in 1541.
Interestingly, amongst the royal party which stayed with King Henry at the Old Hall, was Princess Mary Tudor who later became the first regnant Queen of England. She tried to reverse the Protestant religion for the old Catholic ways and burnt many heretics. Also in the group was Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, who was the grand father of Lady Jane Grey, who reigned only nine days before Mary Tudor took the throne.
In 1597 a new family called the Hickmans purchased the manor house (some of the family portraits still hang in the Upper Great Chamber) and before
In modern times, the Old Hall has an association with a Rose, the emblem of the Tudor dynasty. William Rose, a self taught inventor was born at the Old Hall and his factory made the first machines that produced Cadbury’s chocolates named after its founder, William Rose. He even saw the Grey lady in the tower chamber!
In 1949, The Friends were formed to save this iconic manor house from dereliction. In 2009, they celebrate sixty years of unbroken service to the Old Hall. To mark that milestone, a programme of events has been arranged:
The Old Hall is open Monday to Saturdays 2008 to Feb 28 2009 from 10am to 4pm and closed on Sundays. It has an excellent Gift Shop and Manor House Tea Shop.
March 1 2009 until Oct 31 2009
Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm
Saturday & Sunday 11am to 5pm
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