Thoresby Hall the "Stately Home", as opposed to the successful hotel it is today, opened its doors to the general public on 29th March, 1957. It was an event largely organised by Major Beattie, Lady Rozelle and Countess Manvers being on holiday in the Mediterranean on that day. (Link
). Chris Stanley, originally appointed as Estate Accountant, would then take over in subsequent years as the main organiser for such Open Days. Typically, the Hall would be open on weekends, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Bank Holidays.
During the late 1950s / 1960s, when visits to stately homes were a favoured pastime with the British public, Thoresby Hall was a great success. It’s charm originated from the authenticity of the place, combined with simple “novelty attractions” as a the model railway
which operated for there for a time, and even a late 60s attempt at a small "zoo" inside the gates and organised by a Mr Dewhurst. Standing inside Thoresby Hall
one sensed that this was indeed a Home; an atmosphere Countess Manvers’ paintings
made even more tangible.
It is a sad irony that the coal mining beneath Thoresby Estate, responsible for much of its wealth, would one day help provoke the downfall of the Hall itself as the 1970s drew to a close. I remember visiting Thoresby Hall in 1979. Countess Manvers was standing by the piano in the Main Inner Hall, and spent some time chatting to my parents, especially my father with whom she’d had a lot of contact during his years on the Estate. Amidst the nearby boxes of souvenir pencils and brochures, there was a sense of things coming to an end.
In 1980, whilst still permitting Thoresby Hall to remain the home of Countess Manvers, the National Coal Board purchased its actual structure. Their motivation for doing so made sound business sense: Mining was still active in the immediate surroundings, resulting in considerable damage to Thoresby Lake
, and a risk of structural damage elsewhere. Lady Manvers was allowed to open the Hall to the public if and when she so desired, but I have no precise date for when Thoresby Hall, as a “stately home” closed its doors to that practice. Lady Manvers passed away in 1984.
According to the Telegraph colour supplement (27 November, 1988), the subsequent sale of Thoresby Hall to the Australian-based Roo Management, would it seem prove controversial: Roo were apparently clear about their intention to strip the five main Victorian State Rooms of their contents, converting them to part of a hotel. In opposition to their proposal was local developer Geoffrey Whittaker, who vowed to preserve intact the unique contents of these State Rooms as a part of his own plans also to convert Thoresby Hall into a luxury hotel. Not only that, but Whittaker outbid Roo in a written offer of £1.6 million as opposed to Roo’s £1.5. However, and for whatever reason, The National Coal Board seemed intent on selling to Roo, “in spite of strong opposition and protests from the heritage lobby and at least 15 Mps” *. As a consequence, in May / June 1989, Sotheby’s auctioned off much of the original and unique contents of Thoresby Hall, soon after Roo had acquired the property. Roo would then own the Hall for approximately only one year, before putting it back on the market with an estimated price of £3 - £4 million. This time Geoffrey Whittaker was successful in buying it, but only six months later the developers went bankrupt and the Official Receiver had to take over.
The 1990s was surely Thoresby Hall’s darkest decade. I remember having a conversation with retired Perlethorpe teacher
C. Allan Bollans (see sidebar credits), during this time, when he was working at the Art Gallery there. The threat of looting had been a problem, and perhaps understandably, repairs such as those made by the National Coal Board to the Lake in 1992 (this link
), were based on finances rather than historical restoration. But there was to be a happy ending…
In 2000 Warners successfully took over Thoresby Hall and opened a luxury hotel on the site. Not only that, but their policy towards an adult clientele, was surely a positive influence on the re-opening of scenic walks leading from Thoresby Hall to Perlethorpe Village
. Such walkways, now enjoyed by hotel guests and visitors alike, had not been accessible for considerable years. (See THIS LINK
for video). The success of Warners, combined with the quality of the Art Gallery, restaurant, and craft shops based in the Courtyard, once again make a visit to Thoresby Hall an attractive proposition.
Note: This website has no official links to Warners Holidays, nor Thoresby Estate itself. Recommendations to visit the same are 100% positive; given in independent good faith.
(*Quotes and details regarding the sale of Thoresby Hall in 1988 / 89 taken from Telegraph Magazine, November 27th., 1988. The details and machinations of this sale have no links to subsequent sales of the Hall).
Top b & w photo:
A final family visit to Thoresby Hall, the stately home. 1979. Above:
The Inner Hall now used by the hotel guests. 2008.
Labels: Manvers, Perlethorpe Village, Pierrepont, stately home, the Dukeries, Thoresby Estate, Thoresby Hall, Thoresby Park