Monthly Archives: February 2018

28th February, 2018. The Old Hall, Gainsborough (continued).

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.

27th February, 2018. The Old Hall, Gainsborough.

This fifth of six blogs was initiated following a visit to Gainsborough. Gainsborough Old Hall is a late medieval manor house ranged around a central courtyard which is, however, open to the south. It thus has three connecting ranges of building compartments, north, east and west wings. It is in the guardianship of English Heritage, is Grade 1 listed and is one of the most important historic buildings/houses in England. The original build of the 1460s was given certain Tudor changes with some further changes in the early 17th century.

The surviving Great Hall, the centrepiece of a late medieval stately residence, forms most of the north wing (seen above). This timber-framed building was/is open to the underside of the roof and lit by a stone-built bay window (north facing!) at its east end (see above). The windows in the north facing gable-ends lit the service rooms at either end of the Great Hall – buttery, pantry, kitchen, servery and solar. The huge late medieval kitchen interior survives. The roof of the Great Hall is supported by oak arch-braced trusses cut from trees with a curved profile (like a cruck construction) with no tie beams spanning the upper hall space. There is evidence for a once central open hearth. Most of these features are/were reflected it the surviving part of a late medieval box-frame structure at the rear of 51, Fleetgate, Barton, albeit on a more modest scale. Unfortunately ‘Barton’s oldest building’ is currently closed to the public pending a structural survey.

The timber-framed walling of the east wing of Gainsborough Old Hall was later encased in Tudor bricks, with the bay windows being added at the same time. At the north-east corner of the east wing was built a complex brick tower (see above) with a fireplace and garderobe in each room of its three stories.

(To be continued).

26th February, 2018. Derby cathedral.

Derby cathedral was a parish church until 1927 when it was elevated to cathedral status. The criteria by which this elevation is achieved is by the installation of a bishop’s chair, it does not require any enlargement or other physical changes, although the option might be chosen. So, like at All Saints, Gainsborough, at some point in the 18th century it was decided at the parish church of All Saints, Derby to replace the pre-existing nave and chancel with a rectangular nave and apsidal chancel in the neo-Classical fashion of the time. Apparently in the case of Derby this was largly on the initiative of the then incumbent. Have only once been in Derby cathedral, and that over 20 years ago, at which point I didn’t know really what to expect – that being the case I was astonished at the light and airy space, so open, so colourful. Here, unlike at Gainsborough, the architect James Gibbs believed ‘It is more beautiful for having no galleries which, as well as pews, clog-up and spoil the interior of the church’. Like All Saints, Gainsborough, All Saints, Derby has plain columns with rectangular capitals and is an ‘audible’ church, but unlike Gainsborough it has  chancel screen, albeit of finely fashioned wrought iron.

All Saints, Derby was re-built in the 1720s. Like at Gainsborough it may well have been that the Late medieval west tower was retained as it was still in good condition (with being relatively new) plus the fact that the west tower was the responsibility of the parishioners so retaining it reduced the overall cost. I do not know what evidence may have survived as to the replaced nave and chancel either at Gainsborough or Derby.

How spell-bound the parishioners must have been when first entering their re-built church, almost certainly the first direct contact they would have had with neo-Classical architecture on a relatively large scale.

(Old Hall, Gainsborough – next blog).

25th February, 2018. Stallingborough church.

Stallingborough church (see picture shwing tower as viewed from the south with trees obscuring the nave) stands detached from the modern village but beside a deserted medieval village site evidenced in the ‘humps and bumps’ in permanent pasture. This site, in its day, would have been dominated by the manor house of the influential Ayscough family. The church is a complete neo-Classical re-build in brick with some large freestone blocks (presumably from the earlier church or from the site of Thornton Abbey) forming the foundation and plinth of the walls. Whereas All Saints, Gainsborough was stone built Stallingborough church was built of brick, almost certainly fashioned nearby from estuarine clays. Apart fro physically visiting the site the church can clearly be seen from the carriage of the Barton to Cleethorpes train, the line passing just north of the church.

25th February, 2018. All Saints church, Gainsborough.

Just ‘across the road’ from Gainsborough Old Hall stands All Saints Church surrounded by its now grassy and tree planted churchyard. It is a fine example of a combination of Gothic and neo-Classical architecture, the latter a product of the Renaissance. The surviving late-Perpendicular west tower (Gothic) was retained when the remainder of the medieval church was demolished, this , presumably, at some point in the early-to-mid 18th century. The nave, a rectangular block, and apsidal chancel were built in the high fashion of the day, the new build bonded to the base of the west tower in a proper strengthened manner. The two tiers of round-headed windows flood light into the interior while the pierced parapet and low-pitched roof of the nave conform to the neo-Classical fashion. I have not been inside but pictures show there to be a gallery around three sides of the nave and surviving box pews. No chancel screen. The nave and chancel were then constructed as an ‘audible’ church, that is so that the minister’s readings and sermon could be heard by all the congregation, a Protestant ethic achieved by neo-Classical architecture. Inside the nave two rows of columns support the ceiling/roof, these seem to be plain (un-fluted) with a high base.

With All Saints church, Gainsborough being a mostly Georgian church comparisons are invited with two other Georgian East Midlands churches – Derby All Saints (Derby cathedral) and Stallingborough church near the south Humber bank.

24th February, 2018. Gainsborough.

Recently visited Gainsborough having not been for many years. Found it very interesting. First of all visited ‘Marshall’s Yard’, a shopping complex created by adapting previously factory buildings around a works yard to retail units. Very well done, ample public seating and parking and one unit, the Laura Ashley unit, being un-ceiled allows customers to look-up and see the full height and extent of the once factory building (see picture). Marshalls were a very large Victorian engineering firm producing farm machinery for the farming industry in the steam age when metal farm tools and machinery were beginning to take over from manpower and wood. The extent of the majestic factory buildings retained with their exterior, at least, as when in production is a credit to Lincolnshire County Council and West Lindsey Council.

Then walked along the nearby River Trent embankment from the pedestrianized area to the road-bridge, past one Victorian warehouse now converted to flats (as at Brigg for example) and recently built blocks. Certain view-points inland between buildings show that much of Gainsborough was built on the Trent flood-plain, the extent of which shown by rising land about half a mile inland. Historically Gainsborough was a significant inland port and a crossing point on the River Trent. The Trent here is still tidal and Gainsborough’s trade was linked to the navigable river systems connecting to the Humber Estuary and to the national canal network during the canal age. In the day Gainsborough’s waterfront would have been a hive of activity with barges and river craft loading and unloading, while today such activity can only be imagined. Hull packet-boats, for example, regularly traded with Gainsborough.

From there visited the ‘Old Hall’ and nearby church, exterior only of both.

Finally just drove over the road bridge for a short distance only to find that were in Nottinghamshire!

(To be continued).