Of the original Risley Hall, residence of the Willoughbys, nothing remains but an Elizabethan or Jacobean gateway with crowstepped walls on a terrace by the moat. (1)
There were two manors in Risley at the time of the Domesday survey, one with a park and seat to the north of the village (Wood Hall, see SMR 24803) and one lying essentially to the south of the present A52. In 1350 this manor came to the Willoughby family. In the early Tudor period, the Willoughbys built a new seat more or less on the site of the present Risley Hall, described in c. 1710 as 'a large convenient building with good gardens, especially for fruit, and suitable to the estate, though no exact building'. This house was built of ashlared coal measure sandstone from quarries at Stanton-by-Dale. Two ranges facing south and north enclosed a courtyard, connected to the east by a gabled range, probably rebuilt later. The house was taxed on the very considerable number of 33 hearths in 1670. An oil painting shows it set behind a large terrace decorated by obelisks and statues, and the pleasure grounds were renowned for their splendour. As late as the 1870s some garden buildings survived; a gazebo with a crow-stepped gable is still partially extant, as is a bridge across what may once have been a formal canal adapted from a moat. It is not impossible that further important vestiges of this garden survive - an archaeological survey might be worthwhile. The house was offered for sale in 1743, the advertisement mentioning 'The Hall and farm and outhouses, barns, stables, coach house, two dovecotes, malting office, etc, three orchards, two gardens, two very fine large walks….'. It failed to sell, however, and was demolished in c. 1757. In c. 1790 a new house was built, and modified in c. 1890. The grounds were re-landscaped by William Barron & son in 1897. (2) [For the present house, see SMR 24813].