Strelley Hall | Main Street | Strelley | Nottingham|
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The history of Strelley Hall
Earliest Saxon times
A few hundred metres South of Strelley Hall there is a sharp bend in Main Street. This is known now as Motts Corner. Near the corner are the remains of some Motts which is an old word meaning moat.
It is believed that there was a Saxon building within the Motts which would probably have been on stilts and made of wood. The building itself seems to have completely disappeared.
Most of the original Strelley Hall fell down and was not repaired during Tudor times. There is little record of what happened during this time.
During the archaeological dig in 2006/7 it became apparent from the layers of waste that there was probably a major fire at the end of the medieval period.
Strelley Hall changes hands in 1678
Nicholas Strelley was the owner of Strelley at this time but he gambled it away and eventually the Hall and estates passed to Ralph Edge, a lawyer.
There is a family tree kept near to the Castle Room which shows the generations of Strelleys from the time when they took the estate around 1200 through the period when they lost the estates in 1678 to the present day.
The first Strelley Hall and medieval remains
It is believed that this was erected about 1200 AD. Pevsner says there was a medieval tower which is now incorporated into the modern Strelley Hall forming the Castle Room, the Castle bedroom above it and just a little of the half-window room above that. There is also a medieval cellar below the Castle Room.
The Gate Lodge has some medieval walls, particularly those abutting the road. The formation of the walls is similar to the Church and therefore may have been constructed at a similar time.
At the North end of the car park at the front of the main building is an underground room known as The Dungeon. Although it was used as a dungeon to imprison poachers even in the 20th century, it was almost certainly constructed as a cellar and the nature of the stonework suggests it was contemporary with the other medieval parts of the building.
The outside appearance of Strelley Hall
The western elevation of the Hall is a typical Queen Anne form with a few exceptions. There was a window added to the second floor in what is now the Half- Window Room and the window to the Queen Anne Lounge was changed probably in the first half of the 20th century.
The southern elevation is almost a pure Georgian symmetric elevation but has had a French window added, probably around 1950, at the South East corner. The Castle Room has two windows on this elevation but one of them is false and only there to make the elevation symmetric. It does not connect to the room but backs onto a fireplace.
The eastern elevation was symmetric when the Georgian work was complete. But the Victorians have rather wrecked the classical form by adding to it in numerous ways. First they added a porch constructed out of inferior stone compared with the remainder of the building. Although they could be forgiven for wanting the main hall warmer they cannot be excused for making it such an obnoxious protuberance.
The Queen Anne Lounge
This was believed to be the main reception room of the building in Queen Anne times. When the Georgian part of the building was added at the end of the 18th century, the Queen Anne Lounge was turned into the servants' hall. Later it became a servants' kitchen and it was not until 1985 that it was turned back into a Queen Anne style Lounge.
Some panelling was found in the stables rather haphazardly fixed to the interior walls. It was clear that it never originated there. It was refitted into the Queen Anne Lounge where it matches quite well the panelling in the Castle Room.
The Old Kitchen
This was probably built in the middle of the 18th century. It was a six metre cube and the windows started about two metres above ground level. Probably the window height was chosen so that the gardeners outside could not see the maids working inside and vice-versa. Today this has been reconstructed and more modern kitchen installed. But a new floor has been added and the space above converted into a bedroom and bathroom. The original windows have been lowered to match the remainder of the buildings and new smaller windows added for the bedroom and bathroom.
There was a huge and heavy looking grille in the roof of the old kitchen and it was carefully removed at the time of the reconstruction to reveal it as nothing more than a piece of blackened pinewood. It had been a grille covering an arrangement of shutters to cause fumes from the kitchen to be dispersed into the roof space.
The Panelled Room
The Panelled Room on the Ground floor to the North of the main entrance was originally the Breakfast Room when the Georgian additions were made during the period 1780-1803. It was then only a moderately sized room. But in 1894 when there were significant additions to Strelley Hall the Panelled Room was extended. The panelling, which matches reasonably well through the whole room, was therefore believed to be late Victorian. But around 1990 an expert studied it and pronounced that it was Jacobean making it around two hundred years older than the room itself. If this is true it was obviously moved from some other building to its present location.
The original fireplace in the Breakfast Room on the South wall is a typical Georgian piece.
But when the Victorian additions were made there was another fireplace added and as is typical for Victorians, they went one better by making it bigger than the first fireplace. But they were not satisfied with even that so they added another screen above it with no continuity to the first piece. Even that was not enough so they added yet another screen above that and the resulting fireplace has in many eyes become a hideous monstrosity but serves to remind us of the lack of appreciation of the Victorians of balance in art.
The Castle Room
This is the most interesting room historically. It is believed to have been one floor in a medieval tower with a cellar below and two further floors above. The walls are very thick - more than a metre. It is likely that it would have been connected to the other floors by a narrow stone winding staircase probably in its present doorway. The ceiling is vaulted like the cellar below and oak boards forming the floor would have been added at a later date. Th panelling is believed to date from the Commonwealth period at the end of the seventeenth century although there are numerous additions and modifications.
The fireplace exhibits a mixture of periods. The grey surround is Victorian. There are some medieval tiles built into this. The general shape of the fire grate is Georgian and the motifs are clearly from that period as well. But the puzzle comes from the date which is cast into the bottom of the iron and which says 1600. This makes no sense because fireplaces did not have this appearance in 1600 and in Georgian times there was no great interest in exhibiting history. 1600 is not known to be a significant date in the history of Strelley Hall. So, what does it represent?
One of the doors to the cupboards in the Castle Room is particularly interesting. It was actually made out of an old shutter with extra pieces of timber added at the top, bottom and sides. How strange that a rather tatty old door was re-used by people who were so rich! The door to the Castle Room was made out of at least three old pieces, two old shutters and some other facing material.
The School Room
There is a panelled bedroom above the Queen Anne Lounge. In Queen Anne times this was the bedroom used by Mrs Edge. The then Mr Edge had a different bedroom nearer to the maidservants' rooms. Some time after the Georgian extension was made the panelled bedroom seems to have become a schoolroom. Following some investigations behind the panelling, a cane made from a piece of local wood was discovered behind the panelling. The handle end seems to be rather well worn.