THE HALL

Cottesbrooke Hall was built for Sir John Langham, 4th Baronet, between 1702 and 1712.

The Langham family acquired the estate in around 1635-1640.  They progressed from very humble beginnings in Guilsborough to becoming Lord Mayor of London, accumulating huge wealth trading with Turkey and the Middle East.  In 1660, John Langham was sent to Breda in Holland to petition King Charles II to return to England – he was rewarded with a baronetcy.

For some years, the architect was a matter of conjecture but Andor Gomme in his book ‘Francis Smith of Warwick’ provides conclusive evidence that the house was built by Smith of Warwick.

The house is built of rose coloured brick but with local Duston (ironstone) stone to the ground floor level.  The ornamentation, including giant Corinthian pilasters, entablature, parapets and door cases, is of Ketton stone.

The plan includes a central block containing the principal rooms, flanked by blank quadrants linking the main house to the East and West pavilions.

The east and west bows to the central block were added in around 1780 by Robert Mitchell.  At the same time, he built the larger bridge and the Entrance Lodges, as well as undertaking internal alterations. 

In the 20th Century, further alterations were undertaken by the then owner, Robert Brassey, with the help of Robert Weir Schultz.

In the 1930’s, Catherine Macdonald Buchanan engaged Gerald Wellesley, later the 7th Duke of Wellington, to help modernise the house, creating the present front entrance hall, moving the lodges from the Leicester Road to their present location, building the smaller bridge amongst other things.

In the 1990’s, John Macdonald Buchanan asked Francis Johnson to help create a subsidiary front door, and they undertook further alterations to the East wing.

THE CHINA CORRIDOR, The Library, the Pine Room
& The Staircase Hall

As you enter the Hall, you immediately go up some stairs to the raised ground floor and enter THE CHINA CORRIDOR. Now a gallery and remodelled in 1938 by Wellesley and Wills, this curved corridor links the West pavilion with the main “mansion block”.

On leaving The China Corridor, you come to THE LIBRARY, the first of the range of rooms on the south side of the house, overlooking The Forecourt. Originally the Library and then remodelled as a dining room by Robert Weir Schultz in 1912, it was restored as The Library by Wellesley and Wills in 1938.  The cornice dates from Mitchell’s work of 1780 but was copied by Wellesley and Wills when they fitted the bookcases.  The columns at the South end are not in fact marble but tromp l’oeil.

The central room on the south side is THE PINE ROOM which looks south east to Brixworth Church, some three miles away. The large room was the 18th Century Entrance Hall, retaining original bolection moulded panelling, once painted but now stripped. The fireplace, always on the East wall, was inserted in 1912. The rococo ceiling, like that in The Entrance Hall, is good mid 18th Century papier maché work attributed to John Woolston of Northampton.

You leave The Pine Room and arrive at THE STAIRCASE HALL. This is the finest 18th Century space at Cottesbrooke and retains many good 18th Century features.  The stairs are cantilevered of polished black stone.  This is in fact marble from Alwalton, near Peterborough. The wrought iron work of the staircase was carried out by William Marshall, who worked under William Talman at Chatsworth. The walls and ceilings are decorated with mid 18th Century papier maché work by John Woolston of Northampton.

The Dining Room, the Entrance Hall, the Drawing Room, the Vaulted Corridor & the Stone Hall

As you cross though the centre of the house to the north side, you come to THE DINING ROOM. The North range of rooms were remodelled by Robert Mitchell circa 1780 when the bow was added.  The stucco ‘Wyatt’ ceiling, frieze and part of the dado would all seem to be his work. The cornice is in the style of Robert Adam.  The fine chimneypiece of white marble and Sicilian jasper is late 18th Century.

THE ENTRANCE HALL, originally The Music Room, was central to the Wellesley and Wills alterations of 1938, and the front door was added and the floor moved from its original location in The Pine Room. The frieze is a neo-classical design dating from Mitchell’s alterations of circa 1780 when the panelling was removed from the north rooms. The ceiling is 18th Century Rococo papier maché attributed to John Woolston of Northampton.

The final room on the North side of the house is THE DRAWING ROOM. This room too was remodelled by Mitchell circa 1780 in the Adam manner. Additionally, Weir Schultz designed the stucco ceiling in 1912 in neo-classical style and also installed the white marble chimneypiece which came from a house in Dublin. Weir Schultz’s work in the ‘Adam’ manner can also be seen in his work at Dumfries House, Ayrshire.

On leaving The Drawing Room, you enter THE VAULTED CORRIDOR. This was made by Mitchell in his alterations of circa 1780 and leads downstairs to THE STONE HALL and STONE CORRIDOR. The Stone Hall is within the central block and links with the West wing via The Stone Corridor. The statues are of Diana, Flora and Adonis.

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