Engraving of Gopsall Hall
|Gopsall shown within Leicestershire|
|OS grid reference|
|• London||170 km|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||East Midlands|
Gopsall (or Gopsall Park) is an area of Crown Estate land in Hinckley and Bosworth, England. It is located between the villages of Appleby Magna, Shackerstone, Twycross and Snarestone. The population is included in the civil parish of Mancetter (Warwickshire).
Gopsall is the site of a former Georgian country house that was known as Gopsall Hall. The northern edge of the estate is dissected by the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal and a long distance trail known as the Ivanhoe Way.
The area is mostly agricultural and is dotted with privately rented farms. A permissive footpath allows limited access to the public between Little Twycross and Shackerstone. The A444 Ashby to Nuneaton road also leads to a canal wharf on the western edge of the estate.
Gopsall Hall was erected for Charles Jennens around 1750 at a cost of £100,000 (£8,516,000 today). It was long believed to have been designed by John Westley and built by the Hiorns of Warwick, who later added service wings and Rococo interiors. However, later research by John Harris, curator of the RIBA drawings collection suggests that it was designed as well as built by William or David Hiorns.
The Hall was set in several hundred acres of land and included two lakes, a walled garden, a Chinese boathouse, a Gothic seat and various garden buildings. In 1818 a grand entrance (modelled on the Arch of Constantine) was added.
Queen Adelaide was a frequent visitor to the Hall during her long widowhood. She was popular with the locals, being remembered in many of the surrounding villages. (E.g. The former Queen Adelaide Pub in Appleby Magna, Queen Street, Measham and the Queen Adelaide Oak Tree in Bradgate Park)
In 1848 Gopsall Hall was described as follows:
Gopsall Hall, an extra-parochial liberty, in the union of Market Bosworth, hundred of Sparkenhoe, S. division of the county of Leicester, 4¼ miles (a little under 7km N. W. by W.) from Market Bosworth. This place comprises 724 acres (2.93 km2), nearly all park; and is the property of Earl Howe, whose large and elegant mansion, on a gentle eminence nearly in the centre of the Park, was built by Charles Jennens, Esq., about the year 1750, at a cost of more than £100,000. The principal front looks towards the south, and on each side is a wing projecting 27 feet (8.2 m), the whole length being 180 feet (55 m); the grounds are adorned with temples, are finely wooded, and well stocked with deer. The Ashby-de-la-Zouch canal passes close to the north-east side of the Park, and on its western side is the Ashby and Atherstone road. Here was a cell to the abbey of Merevale, in the county of Warwick.
By 1952 most of the buildings were demolished. Gopsall Park Farm was built over most of the original site and is not accessible without invitation.
The remains include parts of the walled garden, the electricity generating building, an underground reservoir, the tree-lined avenue, the gatehouse and the temple ruins associated with Handel.
During the 1920s and 1930s Gopsall hosted a motor racing circuit and part of the woodland is still named “The Race Course”.
Land around Gopsall was considered as a possible site for East Midlands Airport.
There was a Great Western Railway steam locomotive by the name of "Gopsal Hall". Note the misspelling of the name.
Chronology of owners
- pre 1750: Humphrey Jennens
- circa 1750 - 1773: Charles Jennens, grandson of Humphrey Jennens
- circa 1773 - 1797: Penn Assheton Curzon, son of Assheton Curzon, 1st Viscount Curzon, and also a cousin of Charles Jennens
- 1797 - 1870: Richard Curzon-Howe (Earl Howe), son of Penn Assheton Curzon and Sophia Howe (Baroness Howe) (NOTE: Richard Curzon-Howe is an ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales and thus of the Princes William, George and Harry).
- 1870 - 1919: the Curzon-Howe family
- 1919 – 1927: Sir Samuel James Waring (Lord Waring), of Waring & Gillow.
- 1927 – 1932: Crown Estate (Gopsall estate only)
- 1932 – present: Crown Estate (Gopsall estate and Hall) (NOTE: Hall demolished circa 1952)
- 1942 – 1945: the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) made use of the Hall as an experimental radar base during the Second World War.
In 2002 the temple was part of a restoration project and it is also a Grade II listed building.
It is possible to visit the monument via the public footpath near the old Gopsall Hall Gatehouse entrance in the village of Shackerstone. It is a good 15 minute walk to the site.
A statue of Religion by Louis Francois Roubiliac stood on the roof of the temple and was erected as a memorial to the classical scholar (and Jennens’s friend) Edward Holdsworth. The figure was donated by Lord Howe to the City of Leicester and is housed in the gardens of Belgrave Hall Museum.
During the second half of the eighteenth century the estate was owned by Charles Jennens (a librettist and friend of George Frideric Handel). It is reputed that in 1741 Handel composed part of Messiah, his famous oratorio, inside a garden temple at Gopsall. Some texts however challenge this theory and posit there is no evidence to confirm Handel stayed on the estate in 1741, although he was a frequent visitor. The temple was built after Messiah had already been completed.
The organ that Handel specified for Charles Jennens in 1749 is now to be found in St James' Church, Great Packington.
- http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/ Neighbourhood Statistics website
- Harris, John (1968). Georgian country houses. London: Country Life Books.
- Sophia was Baroness Howe in her own right, as daughter of Admiral Richard Howe (1726-1799), Baron Howe, 1st Earl Howe of the 1st creation. In 1821, Sophia's son Richard Curzon-Howe was created 1st Earl Howe of the second creation.
- Through his youngest daughter Mary Anna Curzon-Howe (who married the 2nd Duke of Abercorn) Richard Curzon-Howe is an ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales. Richard Curzon-Howe's great grand-daughter Lady Cynthia Hamilton was Diana's paternal grandmother.
- ^ Census output area 31UEGL0005 covers most of the area around Gopsall Park. For further details visit Neighbourhood Statistics website
- ^ The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular, Vol. 43, No. 717 (November 1, 1902), pp. 713–718 website link
- ^ Lewis, Samuel (Eds), A Topographical Dictionary of England., (7th Edition, 1848). British History website
- ^ Details of Crown Estate ownership can be found on The Crown Estate website
- ^ Details of old money conversion can be found at 
- Oakley, Glynis. A History of Gopsall. (Bancroft printing, 1997)
- Smith, Ruth 'The Achievements of Charles Jennens (1700–1773)', Music & Letters, Vol. 70, No. 2 (May, 1989), pp. 161–190
- Lewis, Samuel (Eds), A Topographical Dictionary of England, 1848 (7th Edition), 'Goodneston - Gosforth', pp. 315–19.