12 September 2012

Nuthall Temple and Aspley Hall

I spent yesterday morning with Andy Whittaker of BBC Radio Nottingham wandering over the sites of Nuthall Temple and Aspley Hall for a series on Nottinghamshire's 'lost houses' to be broadcast in October.
Strictly speaking we didn't wander over the site of Nuthall Temple as that would suicidal - it lies under the M1 just north of Junction 26! Instead, we had to stand near the one publicly-accessible remnant of the house, an imposing but weather-worn gate pier from the 1750s which still stands by the roadside in the centre of Nuthall.

Nuthall Temple is a major architectural loss. It was one of only four houses in England inspired by Andrea Palladio's Villa Rotonda (which is located just outside the Italian city of Vicenza) and the only one built outside the south-east. The local landowner, Sir Charles Sedley, commissioned architect, astronomer and garden designer Thomas Wright to build him the house in 1754 and by 1757 Sir Charles had moved in.
One of the glories of Nuthall Temple was the domed octagonal hall which was 18 metres high and decorated with exquisite plasterwork by Thomas Roberts of Oxford depicting the subjects of music, sport, science, and warfare; there were also medallions representing eight of Aesop's fables.
The estate was owned by the Holden family from 1819 to 1926 when Rev Robert Holden died and both house and land were put up for sale. At the auction in November 1927 various farms and parts of the estate sold but no one was interested in buying the house itself so, in April 1929, the fixtures and fittings were sold at auction in 528 lots and the fabric of the house itself was bought for £800 by J. H. Brough, a firm of housebreakers from Beeston. On 31 July 1929, J. H. Brough and a reporter from the Nottingham Evening News set fire to wooden props under-pinning the walls of the west wing and this part of the house was demolished. Further demolition work continued over the following weeks but the house was solidly built and parts of the east front remained standing for the next 37 years until contractors building the M1 bulldozed them in advance of the road.
The eminent architectural historian, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, called the destruction of Nuthall Temple "a disgrace" and it is difficult not to agree with him.
By contrast, Aspley Hall was on the surface a fairly unprepossessing three-storey house on the north-west outskirts of Nottingham. However, appearances can be deceptive and the fabric was found to incorporate a late medieval brick tower. A 1554 rental of lands formerly belonging to Lenton Priory mentions the house (which was by that time in a semi-ruinous state) and it is likely that Aspley Hall was originally a hunting lodge for the Prior. The brick tower is specified in the rental and it would have contained the Prior's solar or private bedchamber. Even heads of monastic houses needed a retreat to escape to!
The house belonged to the Willoughby family for many years until it was sold in 1925 to Alderman G. E. Taylor. Taylor died in 1965 and despite his son's best efforts to find someone to take the house on no one was interested and the house was demolished in 1968 to be replaced by an estate of 4-bed detached houses.

7 comments:

Caroline said...

That's really interesting, do you know where & when the series will be broadcast?

Andy Nicholson said...

Caroline

Andy Whittaker told me it would go out in October. I'll post further details when I have them.

Andy

Caroline said...

Thank you!

Richard MacRae said...

Bbc radio nottingham today at 815am. Enjoy.

Tim Garratt said...

You might be interested to learn Andy that Aspley Hall Estate Limited still exists. It was the property company formed out of the estate - and I am a Director - together with the grandson and granddaughter of G E Taylor...

Chris Matthews said...

Hello,
Thanks for this. Does anyone for certain if the cottages belonged to the hall on Aspley Lane / Eskdale Drive corner? Looking at the old o/s maps it is appears to suggest this. Not sure how old the white one is but the pair of red brick cottages further along are Edwardian it seems. Not having any luck in the directories.

MB said...

I live in one of the 4 bed houses. I always wondered what Aspley Hall was since reading it in the deads.