Apethorpe Hall

Apethorpe Hall in Apethorpe, Northamptonshire, England is a Grade I listed country house, dating back to the 15th century. The house is built around three courtyards lying on an east-west axis and is approximately 120 feet (37 m) by 240 feet (73 m) in area. It is acknowledged as one of the finest Jacobean houses in England, and was the main seat of the Fane family. In its prime, the hall entertained much royalty, including Queen Elizabeth I, King James I and Charles I who between them made some thirteen visits to the house.

The house and manor originally belonged to Guy Wolston and later passed to Wolston's son-in-law Thomas Empson. In 1515 they were purchased by a London grocer, Henry Keble, whose grandson was Lord Mountjoy, who sold them to King Henry VIII of England. Subsequently the property passed to Sir Walter Mildmay, Chancellor of the Exchequer. From the windows on the east side of the hall, Mildmay watched the procession announcing the arrival at the house of Elizabeth I of England. Apethorpe was one of the queen's favourite overnight stops on the Great North Road. Ownership passed from Mildmay to his daughter and son in law, Sir Francis Fane (1617), who later became the Earl of Westmorland - it remained in the Fane family. However, the 12th Earl and his son, the 13th Earl, came into financial difficulties and, in 1904, the family seat was sold to Henry Brassey, later Lord Brassey of Apethorpe. After World War II much of the adjoining parkland was sold and the house became an approved school . In 1982 the school closed down and in 1983 the building was sold to a Libyan businessman, Wanis Mohamed Burweila, for £750,000. Mr Burweila, who made his money in electronics, wanted to found Britain's first Libyan University in the cloisters and courtyards of Apethorpe. The shooting of WPC Yvonne Fletcher at the Libyan embassy siege in 1984 put paid to these plans, however, and, along with much of Britain's immigrant Libyan community, Mr Burweila left the country. Burweila left the building vacant leading to its deterioration; this in turn led to him, in 2001, being served a Statutory Repairs Notice, which is an order from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, requiring him to undertake certain urgent works to ensure the future of the building. In order to avoid doing this, Burweila sold the property to a developer called Kestral Armana Ltd, (subsequently renamed Apethorpe Country Estate Ltd (ACEL)). The hall was empty for twenty years from the late 1970s and was becoming dangerously unsafe, with incipient damp and rot. When English Heritage started its Buildings at Risk Register in 1998, the hall was included on it. In September 2004 the Hall was compulsorily purchased by the Government under section 47 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (only the second time the Government has had to use these powers) and English Heritage has spent £4 million refurbishing it to make it waterproof; Stamford restoration and conservation builders, E. Bowman & Sons Ltd, carried out the works. Since 2007 it has been seeking a buyer willing to spend a further £4 million to complete the restoration, without success, as of Spring 2011. In 2008, the asking price was between £4.5 and £5m. In 2011, the house is open to the public for pre-booked guided tours on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 1 June to 30 September.

Film location
The house has been used for filming scenes in Another Country and Porterhouse Blue . The restoration and attempts to sell the property were the subject of a fly on the wall documentary first shown on BBC Two in April 2009.

Building Activity