Gainsborough Old Hall is one of the biggest and best-preserved small medieval manor houses in England. There is something special about it and the way it has survived against the odds.
It has had a very checkered history and is about to undergo another major change. It is no longer jointly run by the Friends of Gainsborough Old Hall, local Council and English Heritage. Although the Friends still use the Old Hall for lectures, it is now under the sole ownership of English Heritage.
Many of the artefacts previously displayed belonged to the council or the Friends and have been removed. Rooms are now empty or minimally furnished.
Pictures on google images, from my “previous review”:https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/attraction/151951-review-gainsborough-old-hall and “here”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/stately_homes_castles/england/eastmidlands/gainsborough/index.html are now out of date.
Anyone going with previous experience and expectations is likely to be disappointed. Some of the rooms did feel cluttered and were in need of a clear out, but not as drastic as this.
English Heritage have begun on restoration work and opened up the first floor of the west block. This was the lodging block for the more senior household staff as well as visiting dignitaries. In the C19th the rooms were used as tenements for local families with a single room containing an entire family. The ground floor is the Education Centre. The first floor is a series of empty rooms with the ceiling open to the rafters and rooms on the third floor.
The whole building feels very much a work in progress while they decide the best way to present the building. It will be interesting to see what they decide….
There was some information around the building, but much of this was fairly superficial. Pink wooden boards with information about some of the people who have lived in the Hall are hung up around the different rooms.
Anyone wanting to take photographs, be warned. I’m not sure what lighting they are using but I found it gave a colour cast to many of my pictures, especially in the kitchen.
This was my first visit for two years and I’ve always enjoyed visiting BUT at the end of the visit I came away thinking “is that it?” So much of what made the rooms special has gone. At £9. 90 for concessions, I felt this was expensive and didn’t give good value. I was torn between giving 2 or 3 stars, but decided to be generous…
The Old Hall has so much history and deserves better than this.
May be it will be better in another two years time – I hope so.