Gainsborough Old Hall - History and Facts | History Hit

Gainsborough Old Hall

Gainsborough, England, United Kingdom

Gainsborough Old Hall is said to be one of England’s largest and best preserved medieval manor houses.

Lily Johnson

28 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Gainsborough Old Hall

Gainsborough Old Hall is a 15th century medieval manor house built by the Burgh family, that has welcomed both royalty and religious reformers through its doors over the years. Today it provides a glimpse into one of Britain’s best-preserved medieval manors, with a fascinating history to match.

Gainsborough Old Hall history

Gainsborough Old Hall was constructed in 1460 by Sir Thomas Burgh as a symbol of his status and wealth, and in 1484 entertained Richard III within its walls. Sir Thomas’ son Edward would not be so fortunate however, and was incarcerated within Gainsborough’s walls after he was declared insane in 1510.

His grandson, also called Edward, was the first husband of Catherine Parr before she later married Henry VIII, and the Tudor king himself visited Gainsborough twice. On his second visit in 1541 he was accompanied by his ill-fated fifth wife Catherine Howard, and it was at Gainsborough she was accused of committing adultery against him.

In 1596 the final Burgh heir died and the Hall was sold to William Hickman, a merchant from London. Hickman supported the Separatist movement and allowed many of their meetings to take place at Gainsborough from 1603 until they sailed to Holland and established the Baptist movement. The company in Holland would later sail to the New World aboard the Mayflower, and be known to history as the Pilgrims.

Gainsborough Old Hall today

Today, Gainsborough Old Hall is managed by English Heritage, who rank it “among the biggest and best-preserved medieval manor houses in England”.

Except for its Elizabethan additions, much of Gainsborough Old Hall is in a remarkably similar state as when it was constructed in the 15th century. One of the best examples of its medieval features is the kitchen, which may be the most complete of its kind in the country, and holds two vast original fireplaces and two bread ovens.

The Great Hall is also a highlight, with its ornately carved wooden ceiling and tall brick tower – picturesque views over the town await those willing to climb it! Exhibits throughout the Hall tell the history of Gainsborough and its occupants, with audio tours also available free of charge.

Getting to Gainsborough Old Hall

Gainsborough Old Hall is situated in the town of Gainsborough in Lincolnshire just off the A159, with parking available at the Riverside Car Park, a 2-minute walk away. The nearest train station is Gainsborough Central, a 10-minute walk away, while Gainsborough Bus Station is also a 5-minute walk away.

Featured In

Historic Sites in Lincolnshire

From a medieval turf maze to a glorious 17th-century mansion, here are 10 unmissable heritage sites to visit in the county of Lincolnshire.