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Listed Building record MDR6156 - Barlborough Hall School, Barlborough

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Barlborough Hall is a fine Elizabethan house of two storeys and basement with four small raised towers of windows. Many fine interior features. Listed, Grade 1. (1) The Hall is in poor condition with bulging walls and decayed facings. See GPs: AO/60/109/6 and 7 - Panorama of south aspect of Barlborough Hall School buildings. The Hall is now an adjunct to St Mary's Roman Catholic College at Spinkhill. (2) Barlborough Hall was built by Sir Francis Rodes, a judge in the Court of Common Pleas and patronized by the Earl of Shrewsbury. It is dated 1583 on the porch, and 1584 on the Great Chamber overmantel. One of the not very frequent Elizabethan mansions of compact, almost square plan. It has a small inner courtyard, now glazed and filled with a staircase in 1825. The south front is tall, castellated and of only five bays. The sides of the house are asymmetrical, that on the east partly Georgianized in 1825 when a new entrance was made. The Great Chamber is now a chapel. The plan has two peculiarities. Firstly, there is a corridor on each floor around the inner courtyard; secondly, the internal walls are so thick that the rooms are divided by double doors with small lobbies, lighted by a single-light window, between. It was probably designed by Robert Smythson, architect for the Earl of Shrewsbury's contemporary Worksop manor. (3) Barlborough Hall is one of a most important group of Midland high houses and, within that category, of a number of seats associated with Robert Smythson and the circle of the Earls of Shrewsbury. It was built 1583-4 and is firmly attributable to Smythson. The house is of brick, covered with later stucco with dressings of permian magnesian limestone. It is almost square in plan, of two tall stories over a high basement. The centre of the house once boasted a central courtyard with the unusual feature of a corridor running right round within the walls overlooking it and adjacent to it on each floor. The more central interior walls are quite remarkably thick and massive although poorly constructed and could perhaps represent the vestiges of an earlier tower-house on the site. If so, it could have been built by John Selioke who purchased the estate in 1534. In 1671 tax was assessed on 21 hearths and in 1697 the courtyard was covered over and filled with a substantial staircase. In 1825 the house was reorientated, the entrance henceforth being on the east front at basement level. In 1938 the house was sold, along with the 300 acre park, and a prep school was founded the following year to complement Spinkhill College, which still flourishes. (6) Barlborough Hall is one of the most interesting Elizabethan smaller country houses. Early authorities, and the presence of Roman coins, may suggest that the hall stands upon the site of an earlier mansion or fortified dwelling, although there is no extant archaeological evidence for this. The present hall was built between 1583-4, and was planned and built in one operation. Although externally the principal elevations suggest a completely symmetrical plan, in response to the prevailing influence of Renaissance thought, the principal rooms are arranged on the traditional Great Hall concept. Overall, Barlborough Hall represents the fully-domesticated 'four-square castle keep' without the curtain walls. The inner walls are as much as six and a half foot thick, whilst the principal staircase is based upon the spiral and is in stone. The plan is approximately square, with all the rooms being grouped around the central light well. The main floor is raised above the ground, following the traditional plan of a Manor House layout no less than the Renaissance idea of the 'Piano Nobile', or Grand Floor. (7) A structural watching brief was carried out during electrical rewiring at Barlborough Hall in 2009. Archaeological observations were restricted to small areas only, the majority of which related to the exposed floor structure where floorboards had been lifted. Structural changes were noted associated with the conversion of the central courtyard into a stairwell and the reorientation of the main entrance to the east, which included the creation of a staircase. Occasional historic features were also observed in situ, including an unusual side access to a fireplace, a hidden gutter-channel in a wall between two rooms, a glazed light well in the floor of a room, and the limited application of lime-ash flooring over front of hall rooms and corridors. (8) In 1910 Mrs. Godfrey Locker Lampson published a collection of letters belonging to the Rodes family which had lain (apparently un-noticed) in Barlborough Hall since the 18th century. (9)

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: DOE (HHR) Clowne RD Derby Sept 1961 3.
  • <2> Personal Observation: F1 WW 11-MAY-60.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Pevsner, N. 1979. The Buildings of England: Derbyshire. 2nd ed., revised. pp 81-3.
  • <4> Index: NDAT. 0212. 0212.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Girouard, M. 1983. Robert Smythson and the Elizabethan Country House.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: Craven, M & Stanley, M. 1991. The Derbyshire Country House. pp 26-27, illust..
  • <7> Unpublished document: Battersby, I. 2005. Barlborough Hall (two volumes). HER Doc. No. 1257.
  • <8> Unpublished document: Thomson, J and Jessop, O (ARCUS). 2009. Barlborough Hall, Derbyshire - Structural Watching Brief.
  • <9> Article in serial: Forde, H. 2013. 'A Quaker Post Bag, a century on', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 133, pages 152-165.



Grid reference Centred SK 4777 7825 (30m by 31m) (Centre)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (5)

  • EDR2755
  • EDR3364
  • EDR1003
  • EDR2802
  • EDR4222

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Record last edited

Mar 15 2020 9:50AM

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