It was the family seat of the family of Sir James Harington and later the Noel family, Earls of Gainsborough for almost four hundred years. An earlier mansion burnt down in 1810 and is now a ruin which has grand gables and beautiful chimneys like many Elizabethan houses.
The present Exton Hall was built in the 19th century close to the ruins of the original house. In 1869 a Roman Catholic chapel, dedicated to St Thomas of Canterbury was added, to a design by Charles Alban Buckler. The hall is still in regular use as the private home of Henry Noel, Viscount Campden and his family.
The hall is one of the many stately homes in Britain associated with the Legend of the Mistletoe Bough.
The hall remains a private home and is not normally open to the public, though it is available for a limited number of exclusive private weddings.
In the park is a the romantic Fort Henry, a pleasure-house built in 1788 in the elegant Gothick style which overlooks lakes formed by the North Brook.
There is an extensive description of the parkland surrounding the hall in its own English Heritage listing. The park is extensive, and spreads across the parishes of Exton, Cottesmore, Greetham and Horn.
In 1948 the 5th Earl of Gainsborough gave the United Steel Companies a lease to quarry ironstone in the Park. Sundew, the world's largest walking dragline worked the land from 1957 until 1974 when mining ceased. Sundew then slowly walked to Corby. Material was moved by a narrow-gauge railway with a loop of nine miles and a link to the exchange sidings at what is now Rutland Railway Museum's site.
- English Heritage. "Lodges & gate (Grade II) (1177667)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 Jun 2013.
- English Heritage. "Old Hall Ruins (Grade II) (1073771)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 Jun 2013.
- English Heritage. "Old Hall Ruins (Grade Scheduled) (1005477)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 Jun 2013.
- "New Buildings and Restorations". The Architect 2: 47. 1869.
- English Heritage. "Hall & chapel (Grade II) (1307327)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 Jun 2013.
- "Exton Park". Properties. Historic Houses association. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- English Heritage. "Fort Henry (Grade II*) (1073724)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 Jun 2013.
- English Heritage. "Exton Park (Grade II) (1000960)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 Jun 2013.
- "Map of Exton Park". English Heritage. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- Gurney, J; Olney, R (December 1997). "Noel Family, Earls of Gainsborough". Summary report on estate and family papers 12th-20th century. Historical Manuscripts Commission. Retrieved 31 May 2013. Account of the Noel family
- "Exton Park". Viscountess Campden.