DiCamillo Companion

Rushton Hall

  • House & Family History: The most famous resident of Rushton Hall was Sir Thomas Tresham. Born in 1534, he was knighted in 1575 and became a radical convert to Catholicism in 1580, which, in Protestant England, resulted in his imprisonment, off and on, for over 20 years. Sir Thomas died in 1605, just a short time after his son, Francis, had died in the Tower (he had been imprisoned there because of his involvement with the Gunpowder Plot). The oratory was created by Sir Thomas and houses a plaster representation of the Passion dated 1577 that was removed from St. Peter's Church, which once stood in the grounds of the house. In 1828 William Williams-Hope purchased Rushton for £140,000 (approximately £111 million in 2016 inflation-adjusted values using the labour value commodity index) and spent large amounts of money "for the purpose of fitting it up in the French fashion." Local legend claims that the famous Hope Diamond was stored at Rushton during his ownership, but this seems unlikely. Williams-Hope was not a Hope by blood, and, even though he was known for his famous collection of diamonds, many of which were to be found adorning him, the Hope Diamond descended in actual Hope family through Henry Philip Hope, after whom it was named. But, because it's so fun to think about, we've put pictures of the famous diamond in the "Images" section! After Hope's death Clara Thornhill paid £165,000 for the Rushton Estate and soon thereafter married William Capel Clarke (in 1856 both took the name of Clarke-Thornhill; the family owned the house until 1934). Charles Dickens was a great friend of Clara Thornhill and visited Rushton many times and supposedly conceived of the vision of Satis House (Miss Havisham's home) in "Great Expectations" while staying here. Rushton Hall was owned for much of the 20th century by the Royal National Institute for the Blind, who used it as a school from 1957 until 2003, when the house was sold to HI Limited, a privately owned family company who converted it for use as an upscale hotel.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: Ruston is famous for its triangular lodge (now owned and maintained by English Heritage; see "Images" section). Built by Sir Thomas Tresham in 1595, everything about the folly is connected to the number three: three stories, each story with two windows on each of the three sides; the sides are 33' 4" long (1/3 of a hundred); and the building has three gables on each side. This was all meant to symbolize the Trinity, a physical manifestation of the very Catholic Sir Thomas's devotion to his faith.

  • 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: 2.S. Vol. I, p. 172, 1854.

    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. III, 1826.

    Country Life: XXVI, 454, 490, 1909.

  • Title: Best Buildings of England, The
    Author: Pevsner, Nikolaus
    Year Published: 1986
    Publisher: London: Viking
    ISBN: 0670812838
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II

  • Past Seat / Home of: Sir Thomas Tresham, 16th century; Tresham family here from 1438 until 1619. Sir William Cockayne, 17th century; Cockayne family here until 1828. William Williams-Hope, 1828-54. Clara Thornhill, 1854-65; Clarke-Thornhill family here until 1934.

    Current Ownership Type: Corporation

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Hotel

    Ownership Details: Today Rushton Hall Hotel & Spa

  • House Open to Public: By Appointment

    Phone: 01536-713-001

    Email: enquiries@rushtonhall.com

    Website: http://www.rushtonhall.com

    Historic Houses Member: No