Our history

Our history spans over 1,000 years so this means that we have a lot of stories to tell. Over the centuries the Hall has grown and changed as have the people that have called this place home. During your visit you will meet the commander of the Norman cavalry at the Battle of Hastings; a Medieval Lord who escaped a prison sentence; a Tudor explorer who died whilst trying to find a North-East passage to China; our two famous seventeenth-century naturalists; A Duchess renowned for her love of music and of course our team of volunteers who have spent the last 40 years restoring and caring for our Hall. The buildings themselves tell their own fascinating story, of construction styles from the Medieval through to the Georgian period and therefore changes in the methods and materials used.

Middleton Hall & Gardens through time


The first mention of Middleton Hall was in the Doomsday Book and was home to the Grandmesnil Family.


Sixty acres of the Middleton Estate land was given to the Knights Templar.


Philip de Marmion owned Middleton Hall and built the Stone Building, the oldest remaining building on site.


Margaret de Freville inherited the Hall from her father and owned the estate in her own right.



The Hall passed into the hands of the Willoughby Family who owned it for over 400 years.


Queen Elizabeth I visited Middleton in July. She knighted Sir Francis Willoughby during her visit.


The Willoughbys leased Middleton Hall to a number of tenants, including John Peel, cousin of Sir Robert Peel.


The Hall fell into disrepair. However, the Middleton Hall Trust was formed to restore the Hall and Gardens.

Middleton Hall and Gardens has passed through many hands through the generations and has many stories left to tell. The Hall has not always looked how you see it when you visit today. The many buildings on site were built at different times during the ownership of different people. The oldest remaining building is the Stone Building which was built in 1285 and structures have been added and demolished since then right up until when John Averill bought the Estate in 1924. He demolished a number of buildings, including the Chapel, to create a courtyard in the centre as a place to store his collection of vehicles.


In 1662, the Middleton Estate was transformed into a site that would help devise a scientific system to classify the natural world by its former owner Francis Willughby and his friend John Ray.

The site was designated as a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1973 and some of the species Francis Willughby and John Ray introduced can still be discovered here today!

Cropped John Ray British Museum bust

The Formation of the Middleton Hall Trust

After the last inhabitant of Middleton Hall left, the Estate was then used as a sand and gravel quarry and was left derelict until 1980. It was then that the Middleton Hall Trust was granted a 75 year lease to manage the 42 acre estate. Their mission was to restore Middleton Hall and is a mission we continue to this day.

Our volunteers have worked tirelessly over the decades to bring back Middleton Hall to its former glory.

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