Holdenby House

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Holdenby House

Holdenby House is a historic country house in Northamptonshire, traditionally pronounced and sometimes spelt Holmby. The house is situated in the parish of Holdenby, six miles (10 km) northwest of Northampton and close to Althorp.

The house is a private residence, though the gardens are open to the public and include a falconry centre. The interior of the mansion is opened to the public for a few days of the year.


The house was completed 1583 by the Elizabethan Lord chancellor, Sir Christopher Hatton. Following the great house's completion Hatton refused to sleep a night in the mansion until Queen Elizabeth I had slept there. Hatton's new house was in fact one of the largest palaces of the Tudor period, rivalling in size both Audley End and Theobalds and was reputed to be approximately 78,750 square feet (7,300 m²), although this probably included the two great courtyards around which it was built. The facades were symmetrical, with mullioned windows and open Doric arcades thus reflecting the arrival of the new renaissance style of architecture gradually spreading from Italy. The cost of building Holdenby financially ruined Hatton who died shortly after(1591).[1]

In 1607 the mansion was bought by Elizabeth's successor James I.

In February 1647, after the First English Civil War, Charles I was brought to Holdenby by the Scots and handed over to English Long Parliament. He remained a prisoner there until in June 1647 cornet George Joyce seized him and took him to Newmarket in the name of the New Model Army.[2] Parliament later sold the property to Captain Adam Baynes who demolished the house almost entirely except for a small domestic wing.

Holdenby Palace before its demolition in the 17th century

Holdenby later in 1709 was bought by the Marlborough family, who in turn sold it to their kinsmen the Clifden Family whose descendants in the female line, the Lowthers, still own the property. The Clifdens had a new house built in the style of the older mansion, incorporating the older mansion's remains but being only about one eighth of its size.[3] The first phase of the new house was designed by the architects Richard Carpenter and William Slater and built in 1873-75.[3] A second phase was designed by Walter Mills and built in 1877-78.[4]

Today all that remains of Hatton's great house are two archways and the kitchen wing incorporated into the Victorian rebuild, now standing on a lawn, which once gave access to the courtyards; a near identical third arch bears the date 1659 and so must have been built for Baynes the Cromwellian owner.[4]

The present owners are James & Karen Lowther.


In July 2011, Holdenby House was used by the BBC for BBC One’s adaption of the Charles Dickens’ classic, Great Expectations. The exterior of the house was used for three days of filming in July, after the film crew spent four days transforming it, and another two days returning it to the 21st Century. 80 tonnes of mud, weeds and creepers up the drive turned the outside of Holdenby into the decaying Satis House.


  1. ^ "The history". Holdenby House. 
  2. ^ Austin Woolrych (2004). Britain in Revolution: 1625-1660,Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-927268-9, ISBN 978-0-19-927268-6. p. 363
  3. ^ a b Pevsner & Cherry, 1973, page 261
  4. ^ a b Pevsner & Cherry, 1973, page 263


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Coordinates: 52°18′14″N 0°59′06″W / 52.3039°N 0.9850°W / 52.3039; -0.9850