Nocton Hall – Nocton – November 2012

Nocton Hall is a historic listed building in the village of Nocton, in Lincolnshire, England. Originally constructed for the Ellys family, it burnt down in 1834 and was rebuilt in 1841 for the first Earl of Ripon, who lived at the steward’s house in Nocton while the house was being built. The US Army’s 7th General Hospital was based at Nocton Hall during World War Two.

There is a famous chestnut tree outside which is so old it needs wooden supports. It was planted by the fifth of King Henry VIII’s wives, Katherine Howard on a visit to Nocton on 13 October 1541. They stayed with Thomas Wymbishe at a manor house where Nocton Priory stood later, both of which have no visible remains. This manor came into the ownership of the Towneley family of Lancashire from 1553 to 1661. Upon his death, it was inherited by Thomas’ sister Francis, the wife of Sir Richard Towneley. It then followed the inheritance of the main Towneley Estate, until its sale by Richard Towneley (who was born there) to pay fines relating to the family’s royalist support in the English Civil War.

In 1834 the hall suffered a fire and was rebuilt by Robert Hobart, Secretary of State (after whom the capital of Tasmania was named).In 1940 with the outbreak of WW2 it was taken over by the Air Ministry, remaining an RAF hospital until its closure in 1983.In the mid 1980s Torrie Richardson bought Nocton Hall, the surrounding wood, woodland, grassland and cottages. Selling the cottages on for redevelopment allowed him to develop Nocton Hall as a Residential Home. Nocton Hall Residential home ran a summer fête for the village on their lawn and employed many local people. Torrie’s son, Gary, took control of the business in the early 1990s. The home ran into difficulty and closed in the mid 1990s, and was sold by the receivers to new owners, Leda Properties of Oxford. Leda also bought the RAF Hospital site from the Ministry of Defence.

While vacant there were many break-ins; fireplaces and the stair bannisters were stolen. It unfortunately was burnt down for a second time in the early hours of 24 October 2004, the fire reducing it to a shell. The investigation into the fire established that multiple fires had been set, but to date no one has been charged with arson. Due to the extensive structural damage it will now likely need to be rebuilt, if the site is not redeveloped for another purpose. An adjacent geriatric nursing care two story building has also been severely damaged by vandals since it was left vacant.
In October 2009 Nocton Hall was listed in The Victorian Society top 10 endangered buildings list in England and Wales. During the subsequent BBC Look North investigation it came to light that Leda Properties (the owners) are intending to put forward new development plans in ‘the near future’ for both the adjacent former RAF Hospital, Nocton Hall and associated gardens. As the Hall is Grade II listed and retains its major structural integrity the Society believes there is still a viable future for the building. Enthusiasts are currently campaigning at a local and national level to ensure immediate steps are taken to stabilise the structure and prevent further damage from the elements.

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