Cressy Hall is a striking Georgian hall, surrounded by nine acres of verdant gardens and meadows and the bucolic Lincolnshire fens. Grade II* listed, the house has an exceptionally handsome façade and a plethora of original features inside, from a sweeping, sculptural wooden staircase, to the shutters that frame each sash window. The house is slightly raised so has incredible views of the surrounding garden. Outbuildings include an old stables block and a workshop, now with planning permission to convert into a one-bedroom cottage. A double crescent of formal topiary yews at the front is protected from grazing land by a ha-ha.
Setting the Scene
The hall is nestled in the striking Lincolnshire fens, or as historian and writer Henry Thorold described them, “the enormous fields of the Fens, the immense sky… the eternal dykes and drains”. The countryside is quiet and beautiful, with many parts that remain largely unexplored, which lends the area a mystical quality. It also has great light for painters and most plants grow well and quickly in the rich soil.
There was likely once an important medieval house that lay close to where Cressy Hall is today, close to the moats to its south east. This house was then succeeded by another imposing 17th-century house, surrounded by pretty gardens, built by the Heron family who arrived in 1600. It was Sir Henry Heron who commissioned the construction of the new house in 1695. The family also established a heronry there – “the kind of amiable conceit that appealed to a cultivated family like this”. In 1794, the house burned down and was replaced by Cressy Hall as we know it today. Built by Henry Smith, a maltster and brewer who came from Stamford, the current house is formed of three storeys, with lovely brickwork and a single-storey pavilion to each side, each of which is crowned by pediments. A plaque of a heron remains, a nod to the previous resident. Inside the house, a wealth of primary features and original details have been left untouched since their installation in the 18th century.
The Grand Tour
The wonderfully private house – found through old stone gate piers – is tucked away at the end of a meandering drive and surrounded by tall, leafy trees. To the rear of the house, around a water fountain, there is parking for numerous cars. Here is the back entrance, which leads into a wide hallway and through into a kitchen, with its original three-arch stone fireplace and meat hooks above. The room is complete with an 18th-century fitted dresser, shelves and a spoon rack, and tiled floors. This room has lovely high ceilings and a large window that overlooks a rose garden to the side of the house. There is also a guest WC adjacent.
A corridor leads from this wing into the main body of the house, via the central hallway and sweeping staircase. Again, wide stone floors run underfoot. This area of the house can also be entered through the formal front entrance, approached via stone steps that rise through a porticoed front door, crowned with a fanlight, to the raised ground floor.
Four rooms radiate from here, including a formal dining room and drawing room to the front of the hall. Both rooms have lovely proportions and are balanced and symmetrical, bathed in light that streams in through two tall sash windows. They are crowned by remarkable ornate and decorative cornicing and plasterwork. A fireplace provides a focal point to one side of each room. Across the corridor, there are two connected rooms currently used as a study and a second sitting room, with another warming fire and a window framing views of the water fountain.
On this floor, a set of stairs lead to a complete set of 18th-century cellars, including a boot room, a wine cellar, a game larder, a wet and dry room plus a coal cellar, all set against a combination of herringbone brick and flagstone flooring. From here, a doorway opens into the studio; a particularly bright and voluminous room, it is lit from above through a glazed ceiling, with a mezzanine running along three sides. Currently used as a painter’s studio, it could easily be an office or expansive study, and has its own separate entrance.
The staircase ascends to the first floor, where four bedrooms can be accessed via the central hallway. Two of the bedrooms are connected through internal doors via a shared bathroom in the middle. Each bedroom has a brilliantly distinct colour scheme, either through its paint or decorative wallpaper. There is also another family bathroom on this floor.
The top floor is home to three further bedrooms, a linen room, and a billiards room with fantastic striped wallpaper. Here, there are Diocletian windows that frame expansive views over the garden and surrounding countryside.
Outbuildings include the aforementioned old stables and a workshop, now with planning permission to convert into a one-bedroom cottage. These are flanked by a tool shed and a three-bay open store/woodshed. There is a very spacious garage and a large barn.
The Great Outdoors
The garden extends across nine acres, including approximately five acres of organic grazing (although not certified as such), and a combination of formal and kitchen gardens. The garden is most notable for its incredible topiary, such as the yews at the front of the house and a box wave hedge that runs along the driveway. The vista runs the whole length of the garden, past a walled kitchen garden and through a clipped yew circle. Parallel to this is a pleached lime walk leading to a small summer house.
There is an orchard of rare apple trees, planted in the millennium, a double row of box ‘urns’ and a small croquet lawn, with another small summer house, bordered by a wrought-iron sweet pea walk. A double row of topiary yews beside an ancient wall leads to the rear of the house.
Beyond, a woodland walk runs through Scott’s pines, oak trees, chestnuts, ash, beech, holly and lime trees, beside the smaller river, the Risegate Eau.
Out and About
Cressy Hall is well situated amidst beautiful landscapes and pretty villages. The village of Gosberton is a mile away and has a butcher, a Co-op, a good medical centre and a dentist, as well as other small shops. Slightly further afield is Spalding, which has all the amenities of a small market town (plus a twice-weekly market) including a lottery-funded arts centre incorporating a cinema and theatre, complete with a tower containing a 23 bell carillon and the oldest gentlemen’s society in the country.
The historic house of Ayscoughfee Hall with gardens, tennis courts and a museum is nearby. The historic market town of Stamford – the setting of several period dramas and home to a multitude of historic buildings – is 25 miles away. There are many good schools in the local area.
Spalding station runs trains that take 20 mins to Peterborough, then 50 mins to London Kings Cross. Peterborough itself also has trains to many parts of the country, including Scotland.
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