Fornham Hall


Location   Fornham
Year demolished   1951  
Reason   Damage due to wartime requisitioning, surplus to requirements  
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Text written by, and copyright of, David Poole - many thanks

The Fornham estate was bought in 1731 by Samuel Kent, a rich London distiller, who became a local MP. Sir Charles Kent, Bt (Samuel's grandson) employed James Wyatt to design a large new house on the estate in the 1770s. He stayed only a few years and sold it to Bernard Edward Howard (subsequently 12th Duke of Norfolk) in 1789, and later enlarged by the architect Robert Abraham in the 1820s.

It was sold in 1842 to the second Lord Manners, who sold it on to Sir William Gilstrap, a Nottinghamshire brewer, in 1862. From him, the estate passed to George Espec John Manners, whose wife was a Gilstrap and who himself was a descendant of both the 13th Duke of Norfolk and 5th Duke of Rutland.

Sir George Manners (knighted in 1920) spent little time at Fornham Hall and in the years leading up to the Second World War let it to tenants. The War Department requisitioned the house for the Royal Engineers for the duration of the war.

It suffered the inevitable damage at the hands of the military and remained unused afterwards. In March 1950, came the sale of its contents, a thousand lots in total, including period furniture, books, pictures, sculptures, carpets, linen, glass and china.

The house was sold to Mr Hurlock of Brooke for the purpose of realising the timber on the estate. There had been talk of using Fornham Hall for institutional use, but this came to nothing and the house was demolished in 1951.