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|Designations||Grade II listed building|
Hodsock Priory is an English country house in Nottinghamshire, 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Worksop, England, and 1-mile (1.6 km) south of Blyth. Despite its name, it is not and never has been a priory. Hodsock is renowned for its snowdrops in early spring.
Hodsock has been occupied since at least the Bronze Age and evidence of occupation from the Bronze Age, the Romans and Saxons is found in the gardens. Hodsock was mentioned in the Domesday Book: In ODESACH. hb.Vlsy .ii . car tre ad gld - 'In Hodsock Wulfsi had 2 carucates of land taxable'. (A carucate was 120 acres (0.49 km2) of land.)
The Cressey family, who owned Hodsock from the mid-12th century for more than 200 years, were powerful enough to entertain kings of England - Henry II, John and Edward I. In the early 13th century they founded a leper hospital in Blyth, part of which can still be seen.
The Clifton family took over the estate at the beginning of the 15th century and owned it through 14 generations to 1765. However, it was not their main home, even though they entertained Henry VIII there in 1541, and they spent little on its upkeep. The family fought with the Royalists in the English Civil War in the 1640s and was heavily fined. Following this, the house became little more than a farmhouse.
In 1765, Hodsock was sold for the only time in its history by Sir Gervase Clifton, 6th Baronet. It was bought by the Mellish family, owners of a neighbouring estate at Blyth. They combined the estates to give a total landholding of 20,000 acres (81 km2). William Mellish (d.1771) and his son, Charles, were leading Nottinghamshire figures. Charles was a keen historian but died in 1796 before completing his history of the county. His eldest son, Joseph, had been disinherited due to his extravagance and Hodsock passed to another son, Colonel Henry Francis Mellish, a lover of racing whose horses won the St Leger in 1804 and 1805. Because of gambling debts, Henry lost the Blyth estate.
During the 19th century, the house was twice rebuilt and was renamed Hodsock Priory. The first rebuilding was by Anne Chambers, sister of Henry, who inherited Hodsock after he had lost his money. She appointed architect Ambrose Poynter to design a south wing in the Gothic Revival style.
On the death of Anne Chambers, Hodsock was inherited by William Leigh Mellish. In 1873, his widow employed architect George Devey to alter and enlarge the house, at a cost of £10,044 (equivalent to £802,618 in 2015). Devey's speciality was designing country houses in such a way that they appeared to have existed for centuries.
The gardens at Hodsock were developed in the first half of the 20th century under the guidance of head gardener, Arthur Ford. Ford regularly wrote articles for gardening magazines, and was reputedly head-hunted by Kew Gardens.
During the Second World War, the flower gardens were turned over to vegetables grown by the Women's Land Army, who were accommodated in the house. After 1945, the house remained the property of the Mellish family, though land, furniture, books and paintings were sold. In 1966, the estate passed to Sir Andrew Buchanan, 5th Baronet, who moved to the property with his wife and family. In 1991, he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire. The house is now owned by George and Katherine Buchanan. The house is used as a venue for weddings.
Hodsock Priory and gardens is at the centre of the 800-acre (3.2 km2) Hodsock Estate, owned by the Buchanan family since 1765. The farm is 700 acres (2.8 km2) and grows carrots, wheat, barley and sugar beet. There is 100 acres (0.40 km2) of managed woodland.
A 20 million gallon irrigation reservoir, constructed in 1997, covers 7.5 acres (30,000 m2). Carefully designed to blend with the landscape, the reservoir attracts wild waterfowl, including oyster catchers, great crested grebes and shelducks. Elsewhere on the estate, bird life includes little owls, kingfishers, kestrels, green woodpeckers hobbies, robins, wrens and long-tailed tits. Hedgehogs, foxes, moles, voles, shrews, water voles, rabbits and hares are common.
The house is not open to the public, but the gardens and woods open to visitors in February during the snowdrop season.
Information provided at Hodsock Priory and at the official website
- UK Consumer Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Gregory Clark (2016), "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)", MeasuringWorth.com.