Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire

Situated on the top of a hill in the village of Lamport, the 'lord of the manor' is known to have had a residence on this site since the early 13th century. Little is known of the early medieval manor house once occupying this site but, in 1568 John Isham built a new house here in the Jacobean style. He was a successful wool merchant and the first in a long line of Isham's to own Lamport Hall. His grandson, John (who was created 1st Baronet by Charles 1 in 1627), extended the house in 1610-11 but all that remains today is part of the stable wing and some cellar windows.

In the mid 1650s, Sir Justinian Isham commissioned John Webb, principle assistant and son-in-law to Inigo Jones, to extend the house with the addition of a reception suite at the side. This was completed in the Palladian style which, at the time of the commonwealth and a Puritan Parliament, was a very bold statement indeed. Today Webb's extension forms the central section of the imposing south west front.

Lamport Hall remained largely the same for the next 75 years until the south west front was extended by the 5th Baronet, who commissioned Francis Smith to complete the work. The addition of the two new wings created the full south west front as we see it today. In 1732 the north west wing was constructed, primarily to accommodate the new library, and in 1740 a complimentary south east wing was added by William Smith (son of Francis).

A further programme of major changes was undertaken at the beginning of the 19th century by Mary Close, wife to the 8th Baronet. The western stable block was demolished, and the Jacobean manor house was replaced with a neo Tudor building, designed by the architect Henry Hakewill. Work included blocking in the Loggia arches and windows at the south east end of William Smith's extension to create a downstairs billiard room with a bedroom above. In 1842, Lady Mary further commissioned Henry Goddard to re-model the south east front overlooking the main garden - another area reflecting her influence.

Twenty years later, Sir Charles Isham, 10th Baronet, and his wife made their mark on Lamport Hall. They decided to give the north west front of the house a new look, and employed William Burn to construct a classical porch that became the main entrance. As Lady Mary before him, Sir Charles was a keen gardener and made many changes to the grounds at Lamport Hall. His work included balustrading to the terrace in front of the south west front, and the famous rockery where the first alpine garden in England was created. Garden gnomes also made an appearance in England for the first time, compliments of Sir Charles.

The turn of the new century saw fewer changes to the exterior of Lamport Hall, with the exception of an increase in stabling. As a result of the two World Wars, the condition of the Hall deteriorated considerably. However, major work in arresting serious dry rot was completed by the early 1970s, and in 1974 the house was opened to the public for the first time by Sir Gyles Isham, the 11th Baronet.

Inside, Lamport Hall contains a wealth of fine furniture, books and art, as well as some exceptional decoration. The 'High Room', designed and built by John Webb in 1655, is of particular note.

Since 1976, the house has been managed by the Lamport Hall Trust, which was established for the public benefit by Sir Gyles Isham.


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