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Harlaxton Manor

Gregory Gregory.jpg

The new Harlaxton Manor was the personal vanity project of Gregory Gregory.

One of Anthony Salvin's original concept illustrations for the Manor

Previous Manor Houses in Harlaxton

In 1340 there was a house fortified by a moat situated on the Southern edge of the village which is said to have been used by John O'Gaunt (6 March 1340 – 3 February 1399), as a hunting lodge.


He was the third son of King Edward III of England, and the father of King Henry IV. ​Due to Gaunt's royal origin, advantageous marriages, and some generous land grants, he was one of the richest men of his era, and was an influential figure during the reigns of both his father and his nephew, Richard II.

In the14th and 15th centuries – the original manor was owned by Thisnblebys, Ricards and Bluets.

Click here to see a full list of Harlaxton Lords of the Manor.

In 1619 Daniel de Ligne (a Flemish refugee from religious persecution) purchased Harlaxton for £8000. He was knighted by James I and was High Sheriff of Lincolnshire.

In 1738 George Gregory, lawyer for the family that left Harlaxton with no apparent heir, married Anne Orton, and claimed she was a newly discovered heir. Thus George Gregory became lord of the manor.

In 1775 the original manor was reported desolate, although still contained a considerable collection of art.

The estate then passed to George de Ligne Gregory (1740-1822) and in 1822 Gregory Williams inherited it from his uncle. Williams took on the Gregory name, becoming known as Gregory Gregory.

The original Harlaxton Manor had became run-down, desolate and by the 1860s was demolished.

A few features were salvaged and used to help decorate the new Harlaxton Manor including the original balustrade that lined the gardens, this was moved to a spot along the southwestern side of the new Manor.

Without a doubt the architectural highlight of Harlaxton is the Manor, built between 1832 and 1848 by Gregory Gregory to become the new seat of the Lords of the Manor.

He commissioned the architect Anthony Salvin to build his mansion in 1831, the Stamford Mercury reported in March of that year that “Gregory Gregory, Esq. of Hungerton, after three years residence in France and Italy … is about to commence the erection of a splendid mansion on his estate at Harlaxton, of the Elizabethan style of domestic architecture.”

Work on the Manor commenced in 1832 but owner and architect had many differences of opinion,  and Salvin, having completed the exterior of the main building, was replaced in 1838 by another great architect of the Victorian era, William Burn , who is thought responsible for much of the interior, but also added the service wings and courtyards, with their distinctive Tudor arches. Gregory consulted a third architect, Edward Blore, during its construction, which took 20 years to complete.

A letter from the Reverend Richard Cust to his niece, Lady Sophia Tower dated January 11th, 1849 says that Gregory has moved in to the Manor from nearby Hungerton Hall, although he only used part of the house due to his health. The letter reads "… Last Saturday I called on Mr Gregory at Harlaxton and was glad to find him at last comfortably established in his lower rooms instead of being 70 steps high, a place not suited to one so crippled with gout. I think you saw the rooms in preparation; his Den has very pretty Gobelin Tapestry and his small Drawing Room panels of blue satin with a cornice of blue, gold and silver; by stoves he has rendered this part of his house (including the Great Hall) very warm."

Built in brick faced with Ancaster stone, the Manor is an exuberant merging of Gothic, Jacobethan and Baroque styles creating an unforgettable and dramatic impact. Finally completed in 1851, the Census return of that year lists, fourteen servants living in, by Victorian standards a modest staff. This included a housekeeper, a butler, four house maids, a kitchen maid, a stillroom maid, a scullery maid, two grooms and three footmen. A porter and house servant lived in the Lodge.

The Census also shows that Gregory brought his butler, Samuel Baguley, and Richard Wade the Gardener, with him from Hungerton Hall. Apart from these two, the rest of the servants appeared to be new.

The house cost in the region of £100,000, which is approximately £10,000,000 in today’s money. This was a significant sum for a landowner with an annual income of £12,000, but as it had been over 30 years in the planning and as building was undertaken at a leisurely pace, the sum was affordable from his income.

The construction of Harlaxton Manor and the acquisition of architectural elements, paintings, furniture and glass to fit it out was Gregory’s all-consuming passion. Unmarried, childless, he had no interest in traditional country pursuits, and was averse to socialising and entertaining. The diarist Charles Greville, visiting during the house's construction in the 1830s, recorded Gregory's obsessive approach.

From The Greville Memoirs - "To-day we went to see the house Mr. Gregory is building, five miles from here. He is a gentleman who has a fancy to build a magnificent house in the Elizabethan style, and he is now in the middle of his work, all the shell being finished except one wing. Nothing can be more perfect than it is, both as to the architecture and the ornaments. Many years ago, when he first conceived this design he began to amass money and lived for no other object. He travelled into all parts of Europe collecting objects of curiosity, useful or ornamental, for his projected palace, and he did not begin to build until he had accumulated money enough to complete his design. The grandeur of it is such, and such the tardiness of its progress, that it is about as much as he will do to live till its completion. It is the means and not the end to which he looks for gratification. He says that it is his amusement, as hunting or shooting or feasting may be the objects of other people and as the pursuit leads him into all parts of the world, and to mix with every variety of nation and character, besides engendering tastes."

When Gregory Gregory died in 1854 the house was inherited by his cousin, George Gregory, a man Gregory apparently despised.

The Harlaxton Manor Archives of the University of Evansville make fascinating reading

One of Anthony Salvin's original concept illustrations for the Manor

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