VII Centuries - III Families - I English Manor House
Tucked away in a valley beneath Rockingham Forest lies the tiny village of Southwick with its historic church and out-of-the-ordinary manor house: Southwick Hall. Though spanning eight centuries of history, styles and stories as far back as the Middle Ages, Southwick is today known for its Victorian and Edwardian heritage and warm, bohemian ambience.
Increasingly focused on the arts and education, the house and gardens will soon reopen for visitors, special events and activities.
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The manor encompasses two medieval towers, an Elizabethan hall, Georgian additions, as well as a Victorian wing and stable block – each style living in perfect ease with the next through the use of the local Collyweston stone, and illustrating under the same roof how the English manor house has evolved over 700 years.
Three interconnected families have owned Southwick Hall:
• In the Middle Ages, the Knyvets: a wealthy family of wool merchants – among them, in the 1300s, a Lord Chancellor to Edward III.
• From the 1440s, right through through Tudor, Stuart and Georgian times: the Lynnes: they included scientists, lawyers and an MP who, in 1587, was closely associated with the execution of Mary Queen of Scots at nearby Fotheringhay. It is thought that the original Warrant signed by Elizabeth I may be hidden in the walls at Southwick – a piece of the Mary Stuart jigsaw yet to be found.
• From the 1840s to the present day: the Capron family – starting with George Capron I, a renowned lawyer whose clients included the third Marquess of Hertford (thought to be the model for the spirited character of Lord Steyne in Thackeray's Vanity Fair). Among George Capron's additions: the Victorian stable block and a home farm, where evacuees, Land Girls and even Prisoners of War worked during the war.
The present owner, Christopher Capron, was Head of BBC Television's Current Affairs programmes and responsible for the visit of the Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
Southwick Hall, with its natural affinity for the arts and literature, is also home to a number of artists and musicians, and is aiming to become a charitable and educational Trust. A choice of spaces, indoors and out, will be available for rehearsals, tuition and performance, as well as for exhibitions, filming, photography and meetings.