Apethorpe Palace

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Apethorpe Hall)
Jump to: navigation, search
Apethorpe Palace South Elevation
The interior of Apethorpe Hall
Apethorpe Palace - Eastern Courtyard
Apethorpe Hall in 1829

Apethorpe Palace formerly known as Apethorpe Hall, Apethorpe House or Apthorp Park, in Apethorpe, Northamptonshire, England is a Grade I listed[1] country house dating back to the 15th century and was "favorite royal residence for James I".[2] Apethorpe is pronounced 'Ap-thorp'. The main house is built around three courtyards[3] lying on an east-west axis and is approximately 80,000 square feet in area. It is acknowledged as one of the finest Jacobean stately homes in England, and was the main seat of the Fane family, Earls of Westmorland.

Apethorpe holds a particularly important place in English history because of its ownership by, and role in entertaining, Tudor and Stuart monarchs. Elizabeth I inherited the palace from her father Henry VIII. Her successor James I personally contributed to its extension resulting in a set of impressive state rooms[4] featuring some of the most important surviving plasterwork and fireplaces of the period.[5] There were at least thirteen extended royal visits - more than to any other house in the county - between 1566 and 1636,[6] and it was at Apethorpe that James met George Villiers, his favourite, later to become Duke of Buckingham.[4] A series of court masques written by Ben Jonson for James I were performed while the King was in residence at Apethorpe.[6][7] The palace was also lived in regularly by Charles I.

After funding an extensive programme of restoration, English Heritage (now rebranded Historic England) sold the house into private hands in 2014. Before the sale English Heritage and the new owner agreed to rename the house Apethorpe Palace due to its royal ownership and use, along with its outstanding historic and architectural significance. In a video introducing the sale, English Heritage director Simon Thurley described the house as "the Royal Palace of Apethorpe."[8] The change of name has been challenged by some bloggers but since April 2015 the house is officially registered as Apethorpe Palace in the National Heritage List.[9][10]

The postal address for Apethorpe Palace is Hunting Way, Apethorpe, Peterborough, PE8 5DJ.[11]


In May 1231 Henry III granted the manor of Apethorpe to Ralph le Breton; however on 21 June 1232 the manor was taken back into the king's hands.[12][13]

In the 15th century the manor was owned by Sir Guy Wolston. In 1515 Apethorpe was purchased by Henry Keble, grandfather of Lord Mountjoy, who sold the manor to Henry VIII.

Apethorpe was left to Princess Elizabeth by Will from her father. In April 1551 Sir Walter Mildmay acquired it from Edward VI in exchange for property in Gloucestershire and Berkshire. Queen Elizabeth dined with Mildmay at Apethorpe on her summer progress in 1562 and 1566. He added a stone chimney-piece with her words engraved dated 1562,[14] and after his death it was inherited by his eldest son Sir Anthony Mildmay (c. 1549–1617), from whom Apethorpe passed to his daughter Mary (1581/2–1640) and her husband, Sir Francis Fane (1617),[15] later Earl of Westmorland. In 1622 King James I gave Fane 100 oak trees and permission to buy 100 more 'at reasonable rates' to enlarge Apethorpe 'for the more commodious entertainment of his majesty.' The rebuilding of the south range provided a new suite of state rooms, clearly intended for the entertainment of the king, on the first floor, and, an open gallery all around the house on the second floor constructed specially for the King to enjoy the carted stag hunt when he could not ride anymore at a later stage in his life. This suite of state rooms consisted of the Dining Chamber, the Drawing Chamber, the King Bedchamber, the Prince of Wales Bedchamber (with the three feathers carved on the fireplace) and the Long Gallery (last complete set of original Jacobean State apartments left in England). The entrance is still now surmounted by a statue of James I dating from that period. The King Bedchamber was embellished with a hunting scene over the fireplace and the royal arms decorated the ceiling. These State rooms contain a notable series of fireplaces incorporating in the carving iconographical statements such as the nature of kingship.[16] Apethorpe remained in the Fane family for nearly three centuries.

The 12th Earl and his son, the 13th Earl, came into financial difficulties and, in 1904, the family seat was sold to Henry Brassey. In 1922 he was created a Baronet, of Apethorpe in the County of Northampton,[17] and in 1938 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Brassey of Apethorpe, of Apethorpe in the County of Northampton.[18]

After World War II much of the adjoining estate was sold and the house became an approved school under the Catholic Church. In 1982 the school closed and in 1983 the building was sold to Wanis Mohamed Burweila, who wanted to found a university in the cloisters and courtyards of Apethorpe. His plans never materialised and he left the country for political reasons. As the house was empty and neglected from the early 1980s it was becoming dangerously unsafe, with incipient damp and rot. When English Heritage started its Buildings at Risk Register in 1998, the house was included on it as one of the most important houses at risk.[19]

In September 2004 the entire estate was compulsorily purchased by the British Government under section 47 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (only the second time the government has had to use these powers). English Heritage has spent £8 million refurbishing it to make it waterproof. Much of the work was carried out by Stamford restoration and conservation builders, E. Bowman & Sons Ltd. From 2007, buyers were sought, in spite of an estimated £6 million still required in renovation (as of 2014, the house was without any plumbing, power or heating). In 2008, the asking price was upwards of £4.5 million.[20] In May 2012, the Daily Mail reported that the asking price for the property had been reduced to £2.5 million (but no utilities and already £100,000-a-year maintenance bill).[21]

In December 2014, English Heritage announced that Baron von Pfetten, a French anglophile and keen field sportsman, had bought the palace.[8] Simon Thurley, English Heritage's chief executive, welcomed the purchase: "Since 2000 English Heritage has consistently said that the best solution for Apethorpe is for it to be taken on by a single owner, who wants to continue to restore the house and to live in it; especially one who has experience of restoring historic buildings and is prepared to share its joys with a wide public, as Baron Pfetten will do. Apethorpe is certainly on a par with Hatfield and Knole and is by far the most important country house to have been threatened with major loss through decay since the 1950s." Baron Pfetten has agreed to an 80-year commitment of 50 days public opening a year, a far more extensive undertaking than the normal period of 10 years in the case of English Heritage grant-aided properties.[8]

Film location[edit]

The house has been used for filming scenes in Another Country and Porterhouse Blue.

The restoration and attempts to sell the property were the subject of a fly on the wall documentary first shown on BBC Two in April 2009.[22]



  1. ^ English Heritage 233008.
  2. ^ "Apethorpe Palace". English Heritage. Retrieved 2016-05-12. 
  3. ^ "Historic England - Championing England's heritage | Historic England". English-heritage.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-12. 
  4. ^ a b "Historic England - Championing England's heritage | Historic England". English-heritage.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-12. 
  5. ^ "Historic England - Championing England's heritage | Historic England". English-heritage.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-12. 
  6. ^ a b "The progresses, processions, and magnificent festivities, of King James the First, his royal consort, family, and court : collected from original MSS., scarce pamphlets, corporation records, parochials registers, &c., &c : Nichols, John, 1745-1826 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". Archive.org. Retrieved 2016-05-12. 
  7. ^ E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage (1923) vol. IV, 83
  8. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 9, 2015. 
  9. ^ Gallagher, Paul (5 April 2015). "This is a palace, not a hall". Independent on Sunday. 
  10. ^ Historic England. "Apethorpe Palace formerly known as Apthorpe Hall (1040083)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  11. ^ "Apethorpe Palace, Hunting Way, Apethorpe, PETERBOROUGH, PE8 5DJ - Address Postcode Finder". Addressesandpostcodes.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-12. 
  12. ^ Vincent 1996, pp. 269, 298, 312.
  13. ^ "Fine Rolls Henry III: 16 HENRY III (28 October 1231–27 October 1232)". Finerollshenry3.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-12. 
  14. ^ Ford 2004.
  15. ^ Barron 1905, p. 9.
  16. ^ "Apethorpe | British History Online". British-history.ac.uk. 1909-03-20. Retrieved 2016-05-12. 
  17. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 32766. p. 8016. 10 November 1922.
  18. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34480. p. 808. 8 February 1938.
  19. ^ Heritage at Risk: Apethorpe
  20. ^ Graham 2008.
  21. ^ Blake 2012.
  22. ^ Appleyard 2009.


Further reading[edit]

  • Alexander, Jennifer S.; Morrison, Kathryn A. (2007). "Apethorpe Hall and the workshop of Thomas Thorpe, mason of King's Cliffe: a study in masons' marks". Architectural History. 50: 59–94. 
  • Pevsner, Sir Nikolaus; Cherry, Bridget (2002) [1973]. The Buildings of England – Northamptonshire. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-09632-1. 
  • Smith, Pete (2007). "The Palladian Palace at Apethorpe". English Heritage Historical Review: 84–105. 
  • BBC Radio Northampton - 6 March 2007
  • BBC Look East - 5 March 2007 + 18 June 2007
  • "Northampton Evening Telegraph" - 22 March 2007

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°32′50″N 0°29′32″W / 52.5472°N 0.4922°W / 52.5472; -0.4922