Swarkestone Hall Pavilion

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Swarkestone Hall Pavilion
Swarkestone Hall Pavilion 2.jpg
Swarkestone Pavilion looking from the Bowling Green Side
Swarkestone Hall Pavilion is located in Derbyshire
Swarkestone Hall Pavilion
Location within Derbyshire
General information
Architectural style Jacobean style
Coordinates 52°51′14″N 1°26′42″W / 52.854°N 1.445°W / 52.854; -1.445
Construction started c1632
Cost £111 12s 4d
Client Sir John Harpur, 2nd Baronet
Owner Landmark Trust
Design and construction
Engineer Richard Shepperd
Designations Grade I listed

Swarkestone Hall Pavilion also known as Swarkestone Stand and The Grandstand is a 17th-century pavilion 200 metres north of the ruins of Swarkestone Hall, Swarkestone, Derbyshire. It is a Grade I listed building located to the south of Chellaston on the A514.

The pavilion was constructed between 1630-32. Its frontage displays the arms of Sir John Harpur and his wife Catherine Howard (granddaughter of the Earl of Suffolk, who had married in 1631/2, and so it may have been built in celebration of their marriage; the Harpur family residing at the adjacent Swarkestone (Old) Hall; that hall having been constructed in the 1560s by Sir Richard Harpur.[1][2]

The purpose of the building is a matter of some debate. It has been referred to as the Bowling Alley House, The Stand, The Grandstand, The Bullring and The Summerhouse; it is also suggested it may be a banqueting house or a decorative part of a formal garden.[2] Even the enclosure to the front of the pavilion is debated, with suggestions it may have been constructed in the 19th-century when the Swarkestone estate was used for large-scale livestock breeding.[2]


The building stands in a large field known as "The Cuttle" which stretches from the Old Hall to the A514 road; to its front is a walled enclosed for the Bowling Green (some say bull baiting ring). The pavilion is built from local gritstone rubble (thought to have been quarried on the Swarkestone estate); the front of the pavilion, however, is faced with fine ashlar Keuper sandstone, decorated with the coat of arms of Sir John Harpur.[2] The building is in a Jacobean style with a two-storey centre, castellated parapet, flanked by a pair of three-storey towers with leaded cupolas topped by balled finials.[3] The building was probably not constructed in one go and the towers are thought to have added as "an afterthought"; for example, their masonry "butts up" to that of the central part of the building, and is not bonded in.[1]

It is possible that mason Richard Shepperd was also the architect of the pavilion, however, the Harpur family's accounts list the "Bowl Alley Surveyor" as a Mr. Wooldridge.[1] Mark Girouard has suggested that due to its style, it may have been designed by John Smythson, who had done work elsewhere in Derbyshire; however, given that pavilion gained this Smythson-like appearance through the later additions, and the evidence pointing to Sheppard and Woodridge, it is unlikely Smythson designed the building.[1]

The pavilion is thought to have been built by a local mason called Richard Shepperd, who was paid £111 12s 4d to construct a building known as the "Bowie Alley House".[1][4] The main Harpur line failed with the death of Henry Harpur in 1677, and the estate fell to the descendants of his great-uncle, Sir Henry Harpur, who had bought an estate at Calke Abbey in 1621. Thereafter Calke was the principal seat of the family and Swarkestone Hall fell into decline. It was demolished around 1750, with only its 17th-century gate piers and the ruins of the house (both Grade II listed) remaining. In 1844 the pavilion was struck by lightning; the cupolas were repaired following this however their profile was change; the rooves set back 'inside the line of the cornice'. However, the pavilion fell into dereliction sometime afterwards.[2]

Rolling Stones photo shoot[edit]

In June 1968 the Rolling Stones had a photo shoot with Michael Joseph in and around the Pavilion for the album Beggar's Banquet. The album was released in a different sleeve without these pictures, but some where used for the Stones' first compilation album, Hot Rocks 1964–1971.

Acquisition by the Landmark Trust[edit]

After many years of neglect, in 1985 the Pavilion was acquired by the Landmark Trust. The trust reconstructed the pavilion at a cost of around £100,000; the dereliction was so bad that only the masonry of the current pavilion is original -everything else is modern replacement.[2][1] The trust now rent the building as holiday accommodation.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Chellaston history Group (2014). Swarkestone Old Hall. Heritage Open Days. p. 15-16. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f The Landmark Trust (2014). Swarkestone Pavilion. 
  3. ^ "Architectural Description of the Pavilion". Retrieved 2009-06-17. 
  4. ^ "Derby Photographs". Retrieved 2009-06-17. 
  5. ^ "Swarkestone Pavilion". Landmark Trust. Retrieved 20 August 2013.