History

‘Rushton Hall is charmingly situated upon a gentle eminence which rises from the Ise, a small stream waters the park’.

Excerpt taken from Northampton County Magazine February 1929, also describing Rushton Hall as a fine and Princely residence.

Rushton is a magnificent structure, built mainly in local stone. It was commenced by Sir John Tresham and his family around 1438 who through generations, owned the hall for nearly 200 years, and was later enlarged and embellished by the Cockayne family around 1630.

With its imposing and graceful appearance, Rushton Hall is entered through heavy timber doors. A stone figure of Plenty sits above whilst either side of the entrance is a carved armed knight.

The hall’s interior is magnificent. Reformed throughout history, it is of grand style. Huge stone and timber fireplaces adorn virtually every room, whilst ornate plasterwork and wonderful stained glass can be found in the Great Hall, Drawing Room, Dining Room Library, and numerous other rooms.

Sir Thomas Tresham created the Oratory which houses the precious plaster representation of Passion, dated 1577. It was removed from St Peters Church, which once stood in the grounds of the hall.

Quiet and secluded, the famous Triangular Lodge built by Sir Thomas Tresham around 1590 was an inspired architectural achivement, with virtually all features set in threes. It is now owned and protected by English Heritage.

William Williams Hope from Amsterdam purchased Rushton Hall in 1828 for the princely sum of £140,000. He spent huge amounts of money on the hall, ‘for the purpose of fitting it up in the French fashion’ and resided at the hall in the shooting seasons only. It is said that the famous Hope diamond was stored here during his ownership. Upon his death, Miss Clara Thornhill paid £165,000. A year later she married William Capel Clarke and in 1856 both took the name Clarke-Thornhill.

Charles Dickens became a great friend of Clara Thornhill, and over the years visited Rushton many times. He conceived the idea of Haversham Hall for his novel Great Expectations whilst at Rushton.The Clarke-Thornhill family owned the hall until 1934, but after the death of William Clarke-Thornhill, the Hall was let to an array of lodgers including JJ Van Alen who loved the hall so much, he reinstated many Tudor and Jacobean architectural details at great expense.

The RNIB opened the hall as a school in 1957 and sold it in 2003 to H I Limited, a privately owned family business, committed to maintaining Rushton for future generations.