At the south end of the east wing (centre right in above photo) is a small chamber on the wall of which Phillip Tyrwhitt etched is family’s commendable motto ‘Trust truth only’. This may date from 1541 when Phillip Tyrwhitt was one of the courtiers attendant on Henry VIII during his ‘Northern Progress’, the whole party staying at Old Hall for a few days.
The west wing of Gainsborough Old Hall was originally built as a ‘terrace’ of four self-contained apartments, each across two stories. Each had open fireplaces and a lofty chimney (see above) as well as a garderobe (toilet exiting through exterior wall). Almost certainly the chimney stacks would have been built with brick during the construction of the original building, this being an expensive way of reducing the fire-risk. However, as on the east wing, the brick cladding on the original timber-framed wattle and daub walls may date from the early 17th century.
Gainsborough Old Hall was built at a time when security was no longer a prime consideration when investing in a new-build manor house, although the north-east tower could have been a place of resort in times of civil unrest such as during the English Civil Wars of the 1640s. There is no evidence of a moat. Built on the River Trent floodplain, presumably to be near the town’s commercial centre, The Old Hall must always have been in danger of flooding at spring-tide times or when melt-waters from the Midlands surged down the Trent.
It is reassuring that Gainsborough’s Old Hall and All Saints church remain in good hands.