The Dukeries, Thoresby Hall
Thoresby Hall is probably the grandest of all the buildings still standing which make up the former Dukeries area of Sherwood Forest. This beautiful setting tells a story of nobility dating back hundreds of years with intriguing history.
The initial traces of the estate lie elsewhere in Nottinghamshire though. The nobility connection can be traced back to 1290 when Sir Henry Pierrepont married the heiress Annora de Manvers of Holme near Nottingham.
The seat then became known as Holme Pierrepont and is known still today as the location for National Water Sports Centre and is open to the public. While the name of Manvers disappeared for a while, as we’ll see later it was resurrected in the 19th century.
The son of Henry and Annora, Robert, became the Governor of Newark Castle, a strategic stronghold for its position on the River Trent and gateway to the north. The family connection with Newark remained and was cemented in 1627 when Robert Pierrepont was created Lord Pierrepont, Viscount Newark and Earl of Kingston.
Lord Kingston stood in the middle of an emerging crisis as Newark was to become a central point within the Civil War. He eventually took the Royalist position and backed Charles I and the town was laid siege on several occasions during the war.
His allegiance was to prove his eventual downfall as he was killed by cross fire whilst in transit as a prisoner under the Parliamentarians. The second Earl of Kingston, Henry, was also a Royalist and loyal to Charles I, accompanying him to Oxford.
Shortly after this turbulent era, the first Thoresby Hall was built in 1670 whilst Henry was alive and he also took the title of Marquess of Dorchester, which became extinct on his death in 1680.
The Earldom was eventually inherited by the second Earl’s three great nephews. And it was in the time of Evelyn Pierrepont that the second Duke of Kingston upon Hull that the first Thoresby Hall burnt down.
It wasn’t until twenty years later that another hall was built on the estate and it lasted only 100 years when the third Earl of Manvers decided to pull the house down and rebuild the current hall in its place.
The current hall was built between 1868 and 1874 and designed by the renowned architect Anthony Salvin. Over the years, the house has suffered a little from subsidence due to the extensive coal mining that took place across the county.
Yet Thoresby Hall still stands well and has been extensively renovated by Warner Hotels who are the current occupiers offering luxurious stays and a day spa in the heart of Sherwood Forest.
The nearby stables have been converted into Thoresby Gallery, open to the general public throughout the year. Take a relaxing walk around the grounds and the lake and you’ll also find theatre events taking place at the Riding Stables throughout the year.