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Gainsborough Old Hall

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This historic property is situated in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire and is over five hundred years old with a dark regal secret.
Gainsborough Old Hall is recognised as one of the best medieval manor houses in England and was also the place where a young wife of King Henry VIII cheated on him and subsequently paid a heavy price.


Built in 1460, by Sir Thomas Burgh, a member of a very powerful family, the grandeur of the building demonstrates the family’s wealth. Sir Thomas was a benefactor to Newark Church and the founder of the Chantry and Alms House at Gainsborough.
Gainsborough Old Hall was attacked in 1470, by Sir Robert Welles in a dispute that was thought to have been about ownership of land. Fortunately, it was not badly damaged and in 1484, Sir Thomas played host to King Richard III at the hall.


It was a year later that Richard III died at the Battle of Bosworth not far away and ended up being buried under a car park in Leicester before being recovered and given a more dignified resting place in 2015.

In 1510, Edward Burgh, the 2nd Baron Burgh and son of Sir Thomas Burgh, was declared to be a lunatic and was incarcerated at the hall. It is said that he inherited from his mother, Margaret de Ros, a family gene which caused the insanity.

The hall was visited by King Henry VIII together with his fifth wife, the unfortunate Katherine Howard, who lost her head after allegedly sharing her favours with other men. Some of these fatal indiscretions are believed to have taken place at Gainsborough Old Hall.


In 1720, a new house was built at Thonock, just on the edge of the town and the hall became unoccupied although it stayed in the family.
Gainsborough Old Hall has changed very little over the years in appearance; the original architecture was a timber framed building with its distinctive white panels and black stripes of the period. The walls were later encased in brick as this represented a statement of wealth and high status.


On the north east corner stands a brick tower which has splendid views of the town and surrounding countryside from the top.
Inside the hall there is a medieval kitchen which is described as one of the best complete kitchens of the period; it still has many of its original features including, two open fireplaces, both large enough to roast an ox, and two bread ovens.


Its tower is said to be haunted by the ghost of the ‘Grey Lady’ who is thought to be the daughter of the Lord of the Manor. It is said that she fell in love with a soldier and they planned to elope. Her father discovered their plans and locked his daughter away in the tower where she died of a broken heart. Legend says that her spirit wanders the tower waiting for her lover to come and take her away.

The house is a Grade I listed building owned by English Heritage after being given as a gift to the nation in 1970 by Sir Edmund Bacon and is open seasonally to the public.



Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Silverhill Lane, Teversal
Nottinghamshire, England, NG17 3JJ
+44 (0)1623 551 838

Contact Details

  • Address: Cobden Street, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, England, United Kingdom, DN21 2NB
  • GPS: 53.400689,-0.778331
  • Phone: 0044 (0)1522 782 040
  • Part of UK: England
  • Sat Nav Postcode: DN21 2NB
  • Entrance Fees: Yes
  • Disabled Access: Good but limited in places
  • Visibility from Road: Excellent
  • Image Credits: Header Image: Mark H

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