KIRKBY HALL

Inventory and site description

Many thanks to Mr. S. Sowman of Kirkby Mallory and to the Hinckley Times for use of material used in compiling the following description.

       The estate covered an area of approximately 160 acres and was described in 1921 as having "thriving areas of Oak woodland, first class hunting and good partridge ground."

          The perimeter was mainly made up of woodland with Church Spinney forming a boundary to the East. against the Barwell Lane, then turning South for a distance, parallel to Mill Lane. Then, traversing on in a clockwise direction we come upon Kirkby Wood, a mixed woodland covering some 30 acres . Further round to the West the landscape becomes more open with marshland and natural lakes fed by a brook running from North to South. To the North of the estate we have more plantations bordering on the Stapleton Lane.

 

          

   To the North and South of the Hall, set further back from the buildings, the ground drops away sharply. Here woodland walks are set around three large rectangular fishing lakes each approximately 90 x 60 yds, well stocked with Roach. On the East side of the Hall a central ornamental fountain was surrounded by lawns which in turn were bordered by rhododendron bushes and a beach grove. An avenue of lime trees led off to the North stretching some 120 yds to a summer house. The immediate front of the Hall overlooked an approaching driveway flanked by spacious lawns and flower beds with overall open view of parkland interspersed with coppice of oak

Photo left taken about 1960 after surrounding woodland had been cleared

The Lime Tree Walk to the Summer House


             
Inside The Mansion.          The main  building  consisted of an Inner hall, a ballroom ( 34 x 14ft.), plus library ( 34 x 14ft.) the latter having a secret doorway leading to a lobby and private staircase. The hall had an internal telephone line linked to the stables. Also located on the ground floor was a Billiard and Smoking room ( dimensions not given). Moving up to the 1st floor, there were 9 principal bed and dressing rooms av.(20 x 20ft), 6 secondary bed and dressing rooms av.(17 x 9ft). The 2nd floor accommodated the servants quarters being  5 Maid servants bedrooms, 5 men servants bedrooms and 5 spacious attic and box rooms.

   At the rear of the building.  The ground floor contained the domestic offices, Servants Hall and Kitchen (21ft x18 ft)

"Plate Room",and "Still Room", plus 2 Larders, a China Cupboard. 2 "Housemaids Cupboards" and a "Boot Hole". 

Underground, were storage cellars for wine, beer and minerals plus an Outside Game Larder and Ice House. The later to be found about a half mile away, see map below.

Seems strange but apparently it was the practice at the time for these stately houses to have their ice storage facilities built quite some distance from the property. A mile was not unheard of.
 

The Utilities.  

The water supply.       Drinking water was supplied by pump from a Well in the grounds. However, domestic water was obtained from a water course about a half a mile away, as mentioned above at the far end of the lakes.This was forced up by an Hydraulic Ram Pump up into tanks at the top of the house. A high level water tank mounted on a supporting tower, was also used, this too was supplied by the Ram Pump. This tower was situated near the Gardeners Cottage (North Lodge) and stored water for the outbuildings and stables etc.

      The Hall was equipped with electric lighting  supplied from a 110 volt battery bank, kept charged by a 16 HP. Horsby Oil Engine driving a D.C. generator set.

 The Hall Map
 

  The above plan shows the position of the various outbuildings in relation to the Hall

The Garden and Outbuildings.

  

    The large culinary garden, shown right on the map, was walled in on two sides and contained Potting and Tool Sheds plus a small orchard. There was a small inner garden to the North, walled on all sides. This contained two glass houses, and a three quarter span greenhouse with vinery, both heated by a stoke- hole boiler.

       An important source water for the garden was obtained by means of a hand pump drawing water from a nearby Well located just outside the enclosed garden.



       The Outbuildings consisted of  Stables for 16 horses. Above the stables, two rooms with fireplaces were provided for the grooms plus bedroom accommodation. A laundry was available with washing and drying facilities. The complex also contained a Brew and Bake house, various store rooms, a Slaughter House and a Blacksmiths Shop. The Northerly
quadrangle contained 4 cow houses, 6 bull houses, 2 loose boxes, piggeries together with a 2 bay barn and Granary. Other outbuildings consisted of a 2 and 3 bay open shed and cart shed respectively. Dog kennels were also provided ,these consisted of 4 brick and tiled kennels with integral iron railed runs with an adjoining boiler house.

 

"The hunt" at Kirkby Hall November 1904
 

 Many thanks to Mr Tim Parry for sending in this photograph of the Atherstone Hunt Meet at Kirkby Hall.

The enthusiastic group of onlookers would have been mainly estate workers and farmworkers from the local farms all of which were owned or rented out by the Manor estate as was all of the property in the village of course.

 

           When attending the village church, the occupants of the Hall did so by means of a private driveway then lined with Elm trees, (see photo below) that ran almost parallel to the pathway used by the villagers, This path was, still is a continuation of the four mile footpath that runs between the villages of Earl Shilton and Newbold Verdon . The short section leading up to the church was later widened, and had a circular wrought iron seat installed about half way along, possibly courtesy of Lady Byron. This pathway then became known in the village as the "Church Walk".

The above watercolour gives some idea as to how Church Walk may have looked back then. On the extreme left are the Elm trees, then the newly planted holly bushes. On the right is the metal semicircular seat as mentioned above. And then just in view to one side is the Parsons Gate and path leading to the Rectory.

The gate and the seat I remember well, back in the nineteen fifties, The seat then was in very poor condition with sections having rusted away, well beyond repair.

         The private driveway used by the Hall residents would have had facilities to enable the horses and coach to turn around in readiness for the return journey, a manoeuvre not possible for villagers using the "Church Walk" entrance.This remained a problem long after the demise of the Hall and its occupants. The inconvenience was particularly apparent prior to funeral services when the coffin had to carried the length of the walk. It was not until the early 1950's that the village Church Council drew up plans to have a turning circle constructed around the Horse Chestnut tree at the top of the drive. My father "Jack" Perridge played a major part in digging it out I remember. There were no "J.C.B's in those days, it was all pick and wheelbarrow.

 

 
 

 The picture left shows the line of elm trees that once bordered the private driveway, The picture right shows one of the original gate posts with top hinge still visible marking the entrance to the church yard.

 

 

 Mr "Jack" Perridge having just completed the "cutting and layering" of the Church Walk hedge, as shown

Circa 1980
   

 

 

 

 Present day view of part of the remaining outbuildings

 Indicates angle of view

The above photograph together with the outline drawing, give an indication as to the relative position of the buildings .The small white building (right) in the photograph was originally the engine room for the electrical generator.

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