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Apethorpe Hall: Wikis


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Apethorpe Hall in 1829

Apethorpe Hall in Apethorpe, Northamptonshire, England is a Grade I listed[1] country house, dating back to the 15th century. The house is built around three courtyards lying on an east-west axis and is approximately 120 feet (37 m) by 240 feet (73 m) in area. It is acknowledged as one of the finest Jacobean houses in England.

In its prime, the hall entertained much royalty, including Queen Elizabeth I, King James I and Charles I who between them made some thirteen visits to the house. The hall had been empty for twenty years from the late 1970s and was becoming dangerously unsafe, with incipient damp and rot. When English Heritage started its Buildings at Risk Register in 1998, the hall was included on it.[2]

In September 2004 the Hall was compulsorily purchased by the Government under section 47 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (only the second time the Government has had to use these powers) and English Heritage has spent £4 million refurbishing it to make it waterproof; Stamford restoration and conservation builders, E. Bowman & Sons Ltd, carried out the works. Since 2007 it has been seeking a buyer willing to spend a further £4 million to complete the restoration, so far (30 December 2009) without success. The asking price is excess of £5m. English Heritage opened the house to the public for guided tours on specified dates in 2008 and 2009.



Apethorpe Hall

The house and manor originally belonged to Guy Wolston [circa 1491] and later passed to Wolston's son-in-law Thomas Empson. In 1515 they were purchased by a London grocer, Henry Keble, whose grandson was Lord Mountjoy, who sold them to King Henry VIII of England.

Subsequently the property passed to Sir Walter Mildmay, Chancellor of the Exchequer. From the windows on the east side of the hall, Mildmay, watched the procession announcing the arrival at the house of Elizabeth I of England. Apethorpe was one of the queen's favourite overnight stops on the Great North Road.

Apethorpe Hall - main courtyard

Ownership passed from Mildmay to his grandson-in-law, Sir Francis Fane (1617), who later became the Earl of Westmorland - it remained in this family. However, the 12th Earl and his son, the 13th Earl, came under financial difficulties and, in 1904, the family seat was sold to Henry Brassey, later Lord Brassey of Apethorpe.

After World War II much of the adjoining parkland was sold and the house became an approved school which may well have hastened its fall into disrepair. In 1982 the school closed down and in 1983 the building was sold to a Libyan businessman, Wanis Mohamed Burweila, for £750,000. Mr Burweila, who made his money in electronics, wanted to found Britain's first Libyan University in the cloisters and courtyards of Apethorpe. The shooting of WPC Yvonne Fletcher at the Libyan embassy siege in 1984 put paid to these plans, however, and, along with much of Britain's immigrant Libyan community, Mr Burweila left the country.

Burweila left the building vacant leading to its deterioration; this in turn lead to him, in 2001, being served a Statutory Repairs Notice, which is an order from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, requiring him to undertake certain urgent works to ensure the future of the building. In order to avoid doing this, Burweila sold the property to a developer called Kestral Armana Ltd, (subsequently renamed Apethorpe Country Estate Ltd (ACEL)).

Film location

The house has been used for filming scenes in Another Country and Porterhouse Blue.


  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, The Buildings of England – Northamptonshire. ISBN 0-300-09632-1
  • English Heritage.
  • BBC Radio Northampton - 6 March 2007
  • BBC Look East - 5 March 2007 + 18 June 2007
  • "Northampton Evening Telegraph" - 22 March, 2007

Further reading

  • Pete Smith in English Heritage Historical Review, vol. 2, 2007 (The Palladian Palace at Apethorpe, ppps. 84-105).
  • Jennifer S. Alexander & Kathryn A. Morrison in Architectural History, vol. 50, 2007 (Apethorpe Hall and the workshop of Thomas Thorpe, mason of King's Cliffe: a study in masons' marks, ppps. 59-94).

External links

Coordinates: 52°32′50″N 0°29′32″W / 52.54722°N 0.49222°W / 52.54722; -0.49222



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