Hothorpe's history began in about 900 AD, although at this time it was named Ude-torp. A Danish Viking leader called Ude navigated his 80 foot long-boat from the Wash along the River Welland about as far as Marston Trussell. The River can be seen at the far end of the grounds, and certainly does not look navigable now!
According to the Domesday Book (1086), Hothorpe was then under the ownership of the Abbey of St. Edmundsbury, but by the time of Henry III (1216- 1272) it was under the control of a feudal overlord, Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon.
In 1330, Hothorpe was owned by Edmund Trussell, who married Margery d'Oserville whose family had lived here for about 34 years. The Trussells held the Manor for 150 years, and then in 1482 there were three changes of ownership in one year.
William Villiers became Lord of the Manor in 1506, and the family held Hothorpe for about 94 years. It is interesting to note that in about 1600, Sir Edmund Montague of Boughton House, Kettering, laid claim to part of Hothorpe Manor -a claim dating back to about 1050. This was resolved by the owner of Hothorpe agreeing to pay 25 shillings a year to the Montagues. This right was subsequently transferred to the Spencer Estate of Althorpe and was increased to £5 per annum, which we still have to pay to Earl Spencer.
By 1610 , George and Elizabeth Bathurst were living at Hothorpe with their family of thirteen sons and four daughters. They were staunch supporters of Charles 1, and six of the sons were killed fighting for their king.
For a few years up to 1715, Hothorpe was owned by the Cave family, who lived at Stanford Hall (now owned by Lady Braye).
In 1788, William Cooke bought the Hall. At this time, the house was probably of Elizabethan or Jacobean design, and was sited about one third of a mile away from the present house to the South West. However, the old house was pulled down, and the present hall was built in 1799; the crests of many of the previous owners can be seen on the Manor House staircase.
In about 1880, the Cooke family sold the Estate to Sir Humphrey de Trafford, a staunch Roman Catholic. He built the Chapel in 1891, and his children are depicted as cherubs on the ceiling. The House passed to his second son, who was well known in sporting circles. One of the top amateurs in first class cricket, he captained Leicestershire and played at Lord's with the legendary W.G. Grace. Later he turned his attention to horses, and commissioned the splendid stable block, now named, 'The Trafford Wing'. In time, however, the family fell into financial difficulties and sold the Hall. Rumour has it that at one time Lady de Trafford gambled away part of the family estate at Old Trafford, where Manchester United now play football.
During the Second World War, the Hall was used by the London County Council as a children's home, for youngsters evacuated from London. However, the house lay empty after the war for a number of years.
Ten years later, refugees from Central Europe fled to England, some of whom had been persecuted for their faith. The Lutheran Council of Great Britain was formed to give some unity to the Lutherans in this country. So in 1955, Hothorpe Hall was purchased by the Lutheran Church for a mere £3,500, although it was somewhat neglected, with trees growing out of some of the bedroom windows!
For 29 years, Hothorpe was used by the Lutheran Church as a centre for spiritual growth and renewal, particularly among young people.
In November 1984 Hothorpe changed hands again. It was purchased by three families to provide a Conference Centre where Christians from any denomination could experience spiritual refreshment and fellowship.
Since then there has been an ongoing plan of renovation and improvement. Welland Court was built in 1992 to provide quality ensuite bedrooms, however, the building’s exterior has since weathered and now looks like the old Manor House. Similarly, an extension to the courtyard of the old stable block has provided a spacious 160 seater Dining Room and, built above the coffee lounge, is a spacious conference room/function suite seating up to 160 people.
During 2012 a further three bedrooms, two new (replacement) meeting/function suites and improved car parking, were all added to the venue, and a new reception, outdoor landscaping and refurbished lounge and dining room were added in 2013.
In May 2015, Hothorpe Hall expanded and welcomed its 'sister' venue, The Woodlands, which now nestles around the woods on the perimeter of Hothorpe's 12 acres. The Woodlands offers a rustic yet modern timber and glass venue (with function room, bar, lounge & dining room) also with 22 guest bedrooms and luxury treehouse accommodation. A new, grander driveway, suitable for coaches, also opened just prior to The Woodlands' opening.
2016 saw 23 'Welland' Bedrooms at Hothorpe Hall refurbished to raise standards even higher, as well as us taking our garden landscaping to the next level.
In early 2017, a new outdoor terraced area was landscaped, with new doors replacing windows in the Trafford lounge to enable guests to easily access the terrace at break times. 2017 will also see the completion of a new bridal suite at Hothorpe Hall and the upgrade of two manor house bedrooms to become 'superior plus'.
Hothorpe Hall & The Woodlands now welcome around 30,000 guests each year who visit for weddings, conferences, church or leisure residential breaks, parties and the like. Hothorpe Hall’s owners are constantly looking at future trends and expectations in the hospitality sector as they continue to strive to offer the quality and service that guests expect. Watch this space for more developments!
Website design build and CMS by Adept