The Mansfield Parkyns era
According to the Rev’d Walter Buckland's History of Woodborough (1897), John Ingall Werg 'invested unwisely', and had to sell up. He sold the Hall in 1852 for £4,500 to Mr Mansfield Parkyns, Hall Farm in 1875. Mansfield Parkyns was the second son of the 5th Baronet, Sir Thomas Parkyns, and as a noted explorer who had spent many years in Abyssinia and Egypt is perhaps one of Woodborough's most famous inhabitants. He went to Africa after being sent down from Oxford University, with the idea of walking across Africa from east to west, from Abyssinia to the Gulf of Guinea. When he finally returned to this country he brought with him his faithful servant who always slept outside the bedroom door to guard his master. Mansfield Parkyns settled happily in Woodborough and had eight daughters. Amongst his talents was woodcarving and examples of his work can be seen in the balustrade to the oak staircase in the Hall. In 1862, as Lt Col Parkyns, he captained the Royal Sherwood Foresters and as Commanding Officer to the 1st Administration Battalion,Notts Rifle Volunteers which developed into the local Territorial Army regiment.
It is quite probable that during Mansfield Parkyns ownership of the Hall the staircase stained glass window was installed since the shields of arms relate to the Parkyns family. The window is three lights wide by two lights high (a full description of each light is given at the end of this document). He died in 1894 of an illness contracted during his foreign travels.
The Hall was sold in 1895 to Charles Hose Hill. In 1917 Mr Hill set up a proper water system for the Hall introducing piped water from a reservoir in Stanley Wood, which sits on a hill above the Hall. In 1923 the Hall changed hands again, to Mr Hubert Dowson. It is known that the Hall and grounds were again placed on the market via an auction, which was to be held on the 6th October 1937.
The Military Period
Just before the Second World War the Hall was purchased by the Government to become the official residence for the AOC, No 12 Fighter Group at Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. Occupants of the Hall included the famous names of Trafford Leigh Mallory and Air Vice-Marshall R L M Atcherley and family who left late 1953 for Washington and Air Vice-Marshall W J Crisham CB & CBE and Mrs Crisham succeeded them. Air Vice-Marshall and Mrs Frazer left in 1958 to take up a post at the Air Ministry, Uxbridge.
After the Frazers left the Hall was passed in 1959 from the Air Ministry to the Army. It was the official residence of the General Officer Commanding, the 49th (West Riding and North Midlands) Division/District. The first G.O.C. to take up residence was Major-General Sir Richard E Goodwin, who was in charge of all troops in the area whether Regulars or Territorials. Occupants in succession were Major-General Sir Richard Goodwin, Major-General T H Birkbeck, Major-General P F Glover, Major-General C M Man and Major-General R Gordon-Finlayson. The occupier in 1966 was Major-General C M Man. In 1969 Major-General D A H Toler held the title GOC for the East Midlands Division, followed in 1973 by Brigadier C M A Mayes for Eastern District (Nottingham). By 1976 a Brigadier & Mrs Tugwell arrived, and taking their place a short while later, Brigadier & Mrs Stileman and in 1979 Brigadier R A Plummer. During the Army occupation, bands such as the South Notts Hussars playing in the Hall grounds often enlivened Woodborough Feast celebrations in July. It is not known if the above named military personnel represent a full list of occupancy of the Hall during the period 1939 to 1979.
Woodborough Hall and MI6
The relationship between the Hall and MI6 started in 1852 when Mansfield Parkyns bought the Hall for £4500. His nephew, Captain Sir George Mansfield Smith-Cumming, founded the Secret Service during a meeting in 1909 at the Hall. It was a very small, selective, secretive group when it was first founded and specialised in foreign espionage and internal counter-espionage. Even though the foundation of this Secret Service was before even the First World War, MI6 had a huge role in the Second World War. Probably the most well-known success was the cracking of the German codes and encryptions at Bletchley Park, which was a branch of MI6. It is amazing the think that these war winning successes started when Captain Sir Mansfield Cumming held a secretive meeting at the Hall. Captain Sir Mansfield Cumming was the director of MI6 from its founding in 1909 until 1923.
Several structural alterations were made in the 1960’s during General Glover's time. The front door at the side of the Hall facing onto Bank Hill was blocked up to create a dining room, moving the entrance to the front facing the lawn.
The Hall then remained empty for some time until sold to Mr Oxby in 1984 for £144,000. The East wing was demolished and the West wing was in very poor condition. Mr Oxby lived in the main rooms of the ground and first floors and converted the second floor into flats. In 1986 the outbuildings and coach house were also converted into separate flats.
In 1988 Woodborough Hall was purchased by Mr Dennis Wright and Mr Gerald Poxton who refurbished the main part of the Hall, restored the West wing and rebuilt the East wing to bring the house back to life in its role at that time as a residential Nursing Home, which it ceased to be by February 2004.
The nursing home closed in 2004 and the new owners the Bellamy family turned the Hall into a restaurant with head chef Des Sweeney. The planned opening of the restaurant took place in 2005, but the tenure of the Bellamys only lasted until 2008 when the Hall and business was sold to a Mr & Mrs T Lock. In 2008/09 a new orangery was added and the venue established as a wedding venue. The Orangery adjoins the Grade II listed building and is designed to complement the main hall and gardens.
Following the recent decline of the business, the Hall was sold to Kidd Hospitality in July 2022.
The Hall was listed as Grade 2* in 1985.
From July 2022
The Hall has traded as a hospitality venue since 2003 but had become run down over recent years and following the sale, Kidd Hospitality spent five months renovating the Hall prior to re-opening as a hospitality venue in December 2022.
The refurbishment work fell into four categories and was phased over five months:
• Some restoration and renovation work
• Design and fit out
The project was managed by the owners. The principle in selecting contractors was to use mainly small local firms who had been recommended to the owners.
Prior to takeover a visit was arranged with the local listed buildings officer and the local heritage coordinator to take advice and familiarise the team with the history of the building. An outline project plan was then set up following a thorough diagnostic with the help of some of our contractors and more specifically Richard Hill at Bonsers who was very supportive and helpful in framing the work.
The first phase was essentially obtaining the necessary compliance certifications. This included fire risk assessments, electrical, gas, asbestos and catering certifications, with a full assessment of the plumbing and heating infrastructure. Substantial remediation work then took place. Plumbing and gas work was undertaken by A Grice, Ltd, Fire and security work by Action alarms (Midlands) with local family run businesses providing the other services.
The second phase, running in parallel with this, related to restoration and renovation work. The majority of this work was undertaken by Bonsers. Included in this phase were roof, guttering and chimney repairs, restoration work on the stone entrance along with restoration and repair of the orangery woodwork. This work was completed by October 2022.
The next major area of work was the general refurbishment and restoration of the interior along with outside garden work. This work involved decoration and flooring renovation with the wooden and stone floor work done by a local firm, Hemmings Floor Restoration, garden work by Woodland Landscapes and painting done by a local family company. It was important that this work enhanced the existing features of the building and grounds whilst providing a backdrop for the operation.
Design and fit out was led by the in-house team. The first part related to upgrading the necessary equipment and infrastructure to trade the business. This included kitchen equipment, a new bar, and the removal of an old bar. One of the most striking parts of the refurbishment was removing a bar which had been built in front of one of the original fireplaces. This restored the original look and feel of the room and is now functioning as a welcoming reception area with the side entrance becoming part of a private dining room.
The second phase related to furnishing the various rooms. The key to this was to respect the heritage of the building but deliver a sympathetic modern twist. The working title was 'Timeless Elegance' and the feedback from many different sources has been very positive.
Work is currently underway to redecorate the five bedrooms and is expected to be completed by May 2023. Further work has also been approved for tree work in the gardens. One historic feature of the grounds is a well preserved Anderson shelter which will hopefully feature in future plans for the garden.
Please note that all historic information has been taken from the Woodborough Heritage site and should be attributed to them.