DiCamillo Companion

Gopsall Hall (Gopsal Park)

  • Built / Designed For: Charles Jennens

    House & Family History: Charles Jennens was an interesting man. He was an extremely wealthy Birmingham ironmaster known as "Soleyman the Magnificent," but also a librettist and friend of Handel (he prepared texts for Handel's "Saul" and "Messiah"). Handel, who was known to be a regular visitor to Gopsall, supposedly (though this is disputed) wrote part of "Messiah" at Gopsall. Jennens’s house was built in the 18th century with a provincial classical style exterior and fine Rococo interiors. The 19th century picture gallery, built in smooth ashlar, was very much in step with Charles Barry's astylar Italian Renaissance palazzo style, which was then popular throughout Britain. The picture gallery, which was located in one of the 1830s pavilions that flanked the entrance facade, was supposedly the inspiration for the design of the north block of the National Portrait Gallery, London, designed by the same architect 35 year later. All that remains of the house today are the western entrance gates and stone posts, two temples (open to the public), a few Wellingtonias, and a cedar tree. Queen Adelaide (widow of William IV) was a frequent visitor to Gopsall, as were Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. During World War II the army occupied Gopsall Hall; they left the house in such bad condition that it was ultimately demolished in 1951. Between 1931 and 1962 the Great Western Railway had a steam engine in service named "Gopsal Hall."

    Comments: Gopsall is generally considered to have been the finest country house in Leicestershire.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The former parkland is today primarily ploughed fields; the site of the house is now occupied by a farmhouse and barn with a corrugated roof. Two temples in the park were restored and opened to the public in the early 21st century by Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council.

    Chapel & Church: The organ that Handel specified in 1749 for the Gopsall Chapel is today installed at St. James' Church at Packington Hall.

  • Architect: William Hiorne (Hiorns)

    Date: Circa 1750-60
    Designed: Stables, and probably interiors, for Charles Jennens.

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    Architect: John Westley

    Date: Circa 1750
    Designed: House for Charles Jennens

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    Architect: Jeffry Wyatville (Wyattville) (Wyatt)

    Date: 1819
    Designed: Entrance archway, and probably alterations to house, for 1st Earl Howe.

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    Architect: Ewan Christian

    Date: 1856
    Designed: 2 one-story pavilions on the Entrance Front of the House flanking the Courtyard, the left of which was the Picture Gallery and the right a Billiard Room (later the Library).

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    Architect: James Paine Sr.

    Date: Circa 1764
    Designed: Garden Temple for Charles Jennens (collapsed 1835)

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    Architect: Edward Blore

    Date: 1835
    Designed: Altered offices for 1st Earl Howe

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  • Vitruvius Britannicus: C. IV, pls. 65, 66, 1767.

    John Bernard (J.B.) Burke, published under the title of A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. I, p. 68, 1852.

    John Preston (J.P.) Neale, published under the title of Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, among other titles: 2.S. Vol. V, 1829.

  • Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - HARDBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 2008
    Reference: pgs. 131, 521, 771, 1106, 1201
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 9780300125085
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: National Portrait Gallery: An Architectural History, The
    Author: Hulme, Graham; Buchanan, Brian; Powell, Kenneth
    Year Published: 2000
    Reference: pgs. 85, 88
    Publisher: London: National Portrait Gallery Publications
    ISBN: 1855142937
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Historic Country Houses of Leicestershire and Rutland, The
    Author: Cantor, Leonard
    Year Published: 1998
    Reference: pgs. 21, 29
    Publisher: Leicester: Kairos Press
    ISBN: 1871344182
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: No Voice From the Hall: Early Memories of a Country House Snooper
    Author: Harris, John
    Year Published: 1998
    Publisher: London: John Murray
    ISBN: 0719555671
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Demolished

    Park Listed: Destroyed

  • Past Seat / Home of: Charles Jennens, 18th century. Richard William Penn Curzon, Viscount and Baron Curzon, later 1st Earl Howe, 19th century.

    Current Ownership Type: Demolished

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Demolished

  • House Open to Public: No

    Historic Houses Member: No