Gainsborough Old Hall given a new start

One of the best-preserved Tudor manor houses in the country, Gainsborough Old Hall, has re-opened to visitors.

Once a place where royalty dined, and with roots to the Mayflower Pilgrims, the historic Lincolnshire house, built in 1460, has been relaunched by new owners English Heritage, after closing last year because of the pandemic.

Now, after conservation and reinterpretation work, the Old Hall – which has been at the centre of life in Gainsborough for 500 years – is back open to the public.

Often called a “hidden gem”, the Hall has played host to some of history’s great names, from Richard III and Henry VIIIto John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Movement.

It was also said that Separatists, who later became Mayflower Pilgrims, secretly worshipped there before fleeing England for the New World.

From its medieval beginnings, it became a place of power and influence in the 15th century, before its wealthy second owners, the Hickman family, moved out sometime around 1730.

Over the years since, it has been an assembly room and masonic temple, a linen factory, pub, and soup kitchen.

It is one of the biggest and best-preserved medieval manor houses in England, featuring one of the country’s most complete medieval kitchens, complete with a huge fireplace, and a magnificent Great Hall beneath an ornate wooden ceiling.

A place of entertainment, eating and politics, in the 15th and 16th centuries the Great Hall would have seen important guests feasting with the Lord and Lady of the Manor on dishes such as venison porridge with saffron, roast peacock and jellied fruit slices.

Today’s visitors can enjoy their own feast at the newly refurbished café, set in the 15th century Parlour, a place that has always been used for conversation and socialising, including in the 19th century as the town’s Literary Institute.

Among other highlights of a tour of the Hall is a chance to climb the 59 steps to the top of the tower for views of Gainsborough and across the River Trent to North Nottinghamshire.

Gainsborough Old Hall was previously managed by Lincolnshire County Council before English Heritage took sole control of the property in November 2020.

Entrance costs £9.90 per adult, £6 per child or £28.50 for a family of five. English Heritage members go free.

For more details about the Old Hall, visit https://bit.ly/3jr9Hq6

For details about visiting Lincolnshire, see www.visitlincolnshire.com