Historic Houses in Lincolnshire

Historic houses in Lincolnshire

England is home to some of the oldest buildings in the world – and you will find some fantastic historic houses in Lincolnshire.

Lincolnshire holds some of the most fascinating history in the country, much of which is connected to the architecture you see today. You’ll find tales of success, tragedy, romance and royalty laced within the walls of buildings across the county.

In this blog, we’re taking a look at some of Lincolnshire’s finest residences. With their grand interiors, family heirlooms and links to the monarchy, these houses are full of stories and secrets – many of which are yet to be discovered!

Doddington Hall

One of the most recognisable historic houses in Lincolnshire, Doddington Hall is a fantastic example of Elizabethan architecture. Designed by Robert Smythson, one of England’s most foremost architects, the Hall was originally built to be a home for Thomas Tailor, the registrar to the Bishop of Lincoln. Building work started on Doddington in 1595, and took 5 years to complete.

Now over 400 years old, the Hall has never been sold. Doddington has always been used a family home, handed down from generation to generation. This unbroken family occupation has resulted in huge collections of furniture, weaponry, artwork and of course, plenty of fascinating family stories.

The gardens surrounding Doddington Hall are as equally impressive as the building – if not even more so! There are 6 acres of gardens to explore, all offering something completely different.

Still bordered by the original Elizabethan walls, the East Garden runs from the Gatehouse to the Hall. Offering uninterrupted views of the building, this is one of the best spots to have a look at the impressive architecture. Standing guard in the forecourt, there are four topiary unicorns, who represent the Jarvis family crest.

Just steps away from the hall, you will find the Kitchen Garden. Packed with seasonal produce, everything that is grown here is used in Doddington’s farm shop and cafes. For the most beautiful flowers, head to the West Garden and the Wild Garden. No matter when you visit you will be rewarded with an abundance of different colours and scents. There are events on in these gardens throughout the year, celebrating seasonal blooms of irises, snowdrops and blossom.

Historic houses in Lincolnshire

Gunby Hall Estate and Gardens

Around eight miles from the East Coast, Gunby Hall is situated on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds. Dating back to 1700, this 42-roomed Hall was originally built for Sir William Massingberd, a Baronet in Lincolnshire.

Often referred to as a beautiful doll’s house, Gunby Hall remained in the Massingberd family until 1944, when it was donated to the National Trust, along with all of its contents. There is a significant collection of art, furniture and silverware now on display, including original pieces by William Morris, Edward Lear and Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Like most historic houses in Lincolnshire, Gunby Hall is surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens. There are eight acres of Victorian walled gardens to explore, bordered by immaculate hedgerows and winding pathways. No matter the season, there is always something in bloom at Gunby. With spring comes the arrival of delicate primroses, snowdrops and crocuses. During summer, a heavy scent of roses fills the air.

Close to the house, there is also a flourishing kitchen garden, which is divided into four parts. Out of all of the gardens here, this is the one that has changed least over time. The kitchen garden and the linking perimeter path are all recorded in plans dating back to 1806. Today, fruit trees adorn the walls, alongside organised rows of herbs and vegetables.

Historic houses in Lincolnshire

Tattershall Castle

Situated in the heart of Lincolnshire, Tattershall Castle is an excellent example of what wealth and power once looked like. Built of brick, in an era of stone, this fortified manor is one of the earliest and finest surviving examples of medieval brickwork.

The first property to be built on this site was in 1231 by Robert de Tateshale, who was given a license to build a manor house. During the early fifteenth century, Tattershall Castle was passed to Ralph, the 3rd Baron Cromwell. When he became Treasurer of England in 1433, Lord Cromwell upgraded the humble castle into an extremely opulent home, designed to show off his position and success. Inside, huge Gothic fireplaces, elaborate tapestries and church-like windows showcased Lord Cromwell’s privilege.

When Cromwell died, the castle was confiscated by the Crown and remained under royal ownership for a number of years. When Royalists attacked the castle during the Civil War, Parliament ordered for the castle to be demolished. Luckily, this order was rescinded following an appeal by the Earl of Lincoln. When the last Earl died in 1693, the castle was left abandoned, becoming ruinous once more.

It wasn’t until 1911 that Lord Curzon of Kedleston was called upon to help save the Castle from destruction. Lord Curzon bought Tattershall, reinstating many of the original features and opening it to the public. When Lord Curzon died, the castle was gifted to the National Trust, who still maintain the house and grounds today.

From the beautiful spring blossoms to the enchanting colours of autumn; the grounds at Tattershall Castle are a special place all year round. The double moated grounds are home to an abundance of wildlife, with large populations of bats, newts and geese in residence. As the castle is surrounded by trees, the grounds are also full of birds, some which are now on the RSPB’s red list. ​

Historic houses in Lincolnshire

Gainsborough Old Hall

Dating back to the 15th century, Gainsborough Old Hall is one of the oldest historic houses in Lincolnshire.

The Hall was built in 1460, by Sir Thomas Burgh. Although Gainsborough Old Hall was first and foremost built as a home, it was also a show of Burgh’s wealth and importance. Burgh was the founder of the Chantry and Alms House in Gainsborough and a generous benefactor to the church.

The Burgh family were extremely well connected, and royals were regularly hosted at Gainsborough Old Hall - King Richard III, Henry VII and Henry VIII all spent time here. Fascinatingly, Gainsborough’s royal connection runs deeper still. In 1529, the grandson of Sir Thomas Burgh, Edward, was married to Catherine Parr - who would later go on to become the sixth wife of Henry VIII.

When the fifth Lord Burgh died without an heir in 1596, Gainsborough Old Hall was sold to William Hickman, a merchant from London. As well as being heavily involved with religious movements at the time, the Hickman family also played a prominent role in the development of Gainsborough, with many becoming members of Parliament. When the Hickman family moved to a new house in 1720, Gainsborough Old Hall become unoccupied – although it remained in the family.

Now owned by English Heritage, Gainsborough Old Hall has changed very little over the years. It is thought to be one of the best preserved, timber-framed manor houses in the UK. With over 500 years of history within the walls, there is much to discover inside. Upon entry, you will find the jaw dropping Great Hall – a vast space once used for entertaining and dining. Winding corridors will lead to you to some incredible rooms, including one of the best surviving medieval kitchens in the UK. Here, you can still see many of the kitchen’s original features, including two open fireplaces - each large enough to roast an ox!

The Hall also boasts an impressive tower – climb the 59 steps to the top to be rewarded with some fantastic views across the Lincolnshire countryside. ​

Historic houses in Lincolnshire

Belton House

Situated just outside the town of Grantham, Belton House is a beautiful country retreat. Built between 1685 and 1688, Belton is a fantastic example of Carolean architecture. Popular with the minor aristocracy at the time, the general theme of this style was symmetry.

Commissioned by Sir John Brownlow, Belton was considered to be a relatively modest house compared to the Baroque palaces being built at the time. Despite its “low-key” appearance, Belton was built by the finest master craftsmen. The house was also fitted with all the latest innovations of the era – including sash windows and separate areas for the staff.

Belton House remained in the Brownlow family for over 300 years. Although each generation has left their own mark on the house, the overall design has remained the same throughout.

Unfortunately, like many families, World War I left the Brownlows with mounting financial difficulties, and Belton House was eventually donated to the National Trust in 1984. Now open to the public, Belton is home to a huge collection of furniture, antiques and artwork – including the very first road map of England. There are a number of state rooms to explore, and visitors can even look around the servant quarters downstairs.

Outside, Belton boasts 36 acres of picturesque gardens and parkland, the latter of which has been home to a wild herd of deer for over 300 years! From the front of the house you can enjoy unspoiled views across the surrounding grounds and countryside beyond. Behind the house, the Italian and Dutch formal gardens boast topiary-lined pathways, lush foliage and delightful floral displays. A spectacular orangery overlooks the gardens, at the centre of which sits an impressive fountain. A short walk from the house, the Pleasure Grounds offer even more. With winding pathways, seasonal wildflowers and beautiful views, this peaceful open space is perfect for a long summer stroll or even a brisk winter walk.

Historic houses in Lincolnshire

Grimsthorpe Castle

Surrounded by 3000 acres of landscaped grounds, Grimsthorpe Castle is definitely one of the most impressive historic houses in Lincolnshire. Although we can’t be sure, it is thought that building work started on Grimsthorpe in the early 13th century. Around this period, castle building peaked, due to a civil war in England and France.

Throughout the years, the building has been reconstructed, renovated and extended – sometimes rather hastily! As the castle now features a mismatch of architectural styles, it is hard to place an exact date on when it was originally built. There are elements of both Tudor and Baroque styles – the latter of which were added by Sir John Vanbrugh, the architect of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard.

In 1516, Grimsthorpe Castle was presented by Henry VIII as a wedding gift to William, the 11th Lord Willoughby de Eresby. The castle has remained in the same family ever since. As it has been occupied by the same family for so long, it houses a huge collection of art, furniture and antiques. Grimsthorpe also has one of the largest collections of royal furnishings outside of the Royal Palaces.

Outside, beautifully maintained gardens surround the castle on three sides. There are also vast areas that have been left wild, creating a haven for bees, insects and birds. Go beyond the gardens and you can explore the castle’s extensive parkland.

Designed in 1771, by esteemed gardener Capability Brown, the grounds surrounding Grimsthorpe extend to almost 3000 acres. The parkland is full of wildlife, with everything from deer to dragonflies making their home here. There are plenty of walking trails which will take you past the most interesting features of the park, most of which you can also cycle along. ​

Grimsthorpe Castle

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