Building record MDR10239 - Gresley Old Hall, Gresley Wood Road, Church Gresley
Type and Period (2)
- COUNTRY HOUSE (Tudor to Georgian - 1556 AD? to 1775 AD)
- FARMHOUSE (Georgian to Victorian - 1775 AD to 1895 AD?)
Gresley Old Hall, Church Gresley. A delightful and unexpected house. The L-shaped 2 and 3 storey house has a south front graced with 3 Dutch gables - an unusual feature in Derbyshire explained by the fact that the builder of the house in 1556 was Sir Christopher Alleyne, son of Sir John, Lord Mayor of London in 1525 and 1535. Therefore it embodied what were then quite modish architectural trends, as interpreted by a local mason. The house had mullioned windows (now modernised with steel-framed ones), with hood moulds, and elaborate brick stacks and was originally a larger building, perhaps E-shaped. To the north is a 3 storey wing of perhaps early 18th century date, much plainer, but heavily disguised by extensive modern accretions. It was allegedly built out of the materials of Gresley Priory, the demesne of which Alleyne had acquired, but this seems far-fetched in view of the use of brick. In 1728 his descendant in the 6th generation sold to the Meynells and they, in turn, re-sold to the Gresleys in 1775. It was thereafter a farm until the end of the 19th century, by which time industry had destroyed too much of the estate. It had been converted into tenements by 1895, and later lay derelict for some time before being purchased by the Miners' Welfare, the renovation being complete by 1959. It stands in a remnant of park, partly enlarged by reclamation, on a low eminence. (1) The Old Hall is a three-storey building of dark brownish brick standing on an eminence with views in all directions. It is L-shaped facing east, with a wing projecting on the north side. Its appearance is now dictated by a 20th century restoration which replaced all of the earlier vertical windows with horizontal ones framed in stone or cement with stone dripmoulds over them. Of the original two-light taller casements under segmental arches, only two blocked windows near the south end of the house remain. The earliest part of the house, supposedly built in 1556 when Sir Christopher Alleyn bought the estate, includes only the ground and first-floor rooms in the north-south range. The east wing at the north end was added at the same time as the attic storey was added to the main house, perhaps about 1660. The tall west wing and staircase were probably built in the first quarter of the 18th century, and is perhaps linked to the purchase of the property by the Meynell family in 1728. In 1775 the house was sold again to the Gresleys, and became a farmhouse, introducing a long period of decline. It was converted into tenements by 1895. In 1905 it was described as cottages, and a long range of farm buildings then lay to the north. At some time, probably in the 1920s or 1930s, Vernon Brice was employed to restore the house, and he changed its whole appearance by altering the windows. This may have given rise to the theory that the house was built from the ruins of Gresley Priory, although the stones filling in the kitchen fireplace could have come from there. In 1953 the house was bought be the National Coal Board, and is now owned by British Coal Enterprises and leased to the South Derbyshire No. 1 Miners Welfare Scheme. (2) Differing assessments have been made of Gresley Old Hall and the extent to which the present building is the house built by Sir Christopher Alleyn in the 1550s. The interior of the house has been much altered; indeed, there is a possibility that the house has been truncated, perhaps at the west end where the service rooms seem likely to have been. In 1662 the house was taxed for eight hearths, making it one of the most comfortable homes in the area. Inspection of the house in c. 2006 led to the suggestion that the 16th century house was not of brick at all, except for details such as chimneystacks, floors and hearthbacks. It seems highly likely that the main body of the house was actually timber-framed and that the fireplaces and existing stack at the south end projected from, and stood outside of, the gable end. The chimney stack was subsequently enclosed within the main envelope of the building when the present brick outer walls with their distinctive Flemish gables were erected. It is suggested, therefore, that Gresley Old Hall was rebuilt in the last quarter of the 17th century, by which time it would have been over a century old and perhaps in need of repair as well as being old-fashioned. It is this late 17th century form which is now visible externally. (3)
- <1> SDR18913 Bibliographic reference: Craven, M & Stanley, M. 1984. The Derbyshire Country House, Vol II.
- <2> SDR19784 Unpublished document: Hutton, B. Derby Buildings Record. DBR 182, February 1995.
- <3> SDR20635 Bibliographic reference: Heath, P. 2006. 'Gresley Old Hall', South Derbyshire Heritage News. Issue 23 (Autumn), p 4.
|Grid reference||Centred SK 28932 18584 (61m by 48m)|
|Civil Parish||SWADLINCOTE, SOUTH DERBYSHIRE, DERBYSHIRE|
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Record last edited
Sep 30 2015 2:37PM