History of the Hall
First recorded in the Domesday Book, it was held by a certain Waleraum, when the house was contained within a timber enclosure surrounded by a moat. In the reign of Henry II, the family in possession was Sir Reginald de Colwick after whom the Hall is named. We first find his signature as witness to a charter (November 17, 1225) and he is reputed to have lived for 100 years and to have held the manor of the fee of Peverill, and of the King in Capita, by twelve barbed arrows, when he came to Nottingham Castle. A tradition that we have continued by representing them on the current front gates.
Upon the death of William de Colwick in 1362, the manor of Colwick passed over to the Byron’s by the marriage of his daughter Joan. Colwick Hall remained the seat of the 1st Lord Byron up till the famous poet the 6th Lord Byron some 400 years later when they then moved to Newstead Abbey. The current face of the Hall was built in 1776 for Sir John Musters, the father of the husband of Byron’s ‘Mary’.
The builder was a local man, Mr Samuel Stretton, of Lenton, the father of an antiquary, whose notes are well known to members of this society.
The architect, John Carr of York, was hugely popular in his day (1723-1807) who designed several country houses for the nobility and gentry. The North face features the colonnade entrance with classic stone loggia and Flemish red brick, sliding sash windows and stone architectures and dressings. Such dignity it possesses due to balance and proportion. The south or river front is more imposing. It comprises a central pavilion, two storeys in height, surmounted by a heavy cornice and parapet, having a pediment in the centre, carried on four bold ionic columns. The west end contains the Grand Ballroom and the East domestic apartments, now a series of interconnecting conference suites.
The internal details include some beautiful Spanish mahogany doors, with enriched mouldings and architraves, an elegant staircase having an elaborate mahogany balustrade, enriched with plaster ceilings and cornices, multi-coloured marble chimney pieces and all carried out in the characteristic manor of the period, latterly known as the ‘Adam’s Style’
Between the south front and the river, there is the current lake with reed-bed. This is the ancient course of an artificial stream, diverted from the waters of Trent, in order to turn the wheel of the Saxon mill, mentioned in the Domesday book. In the 14th century, the water was being diverted by the owners of Colwick to power the turbines for the Hall’s electricity, so much so that it impeded the river and left the current lake. Also subject to many writs that King Richard II appointed eight local gentlemen to enquire into the truth of the complaint. The lake has since become the home of the coot and heron, the kingfisher and sedge-warblers.
Sir John Musters and Lady Sophia Musters were famously painted with red cloak riding on horseback by the renowned painter George Stubbs. Hospitable and welcoming, Sir John was also known to have extended his home to ministers Whitlock and Reynolds during the stormy days which followed the Restoration of the Monarchy.
During the riots of 1831 after the rejection of the second Reform Bill, Mrs Musters escaped and hid in the shrubbery and notwithstanding the rain that poured all night, lay concealed under the foliage of thick laurel trees. However the shock to her system led to her unfortunate death four months later.
The neighbouring St John’s Church was built by Sir John Byron of Colwick in the 16th century. Once featuring oak panelling taken from the dining room of the old Hall, it today stands as a ruin having been deconsecrated in 1979.
At the turn of the 20th century, the Hall was regarded as an Ideal Resort with guests arriving on steamship to take afternoon tea on the lawn, stay in the bedchambers and also be entertained by Pierrots where there was an aviary and menagerie in the grounds. In the mid 1960’s Colwick Hall served residence for jockeys to the nearby racecourse. Following a period of neglect, the Hall which is a Grade II* listed mansion, was placed on the risk register by English Heritage.
In the early 2000’s plans were being made to restore the Hall to its original grandeur creating Nottingham’s premier function venue. By 2004 the ground floor was sympathetically restored serving weddings in the Grand Ballroom and Champagne Lounge, to conferences and smaller celebrations in the John Carr Suite, Decolwyck Hall and George Stubbs Suite. In early 2005 we restored the upper floors to create a range of luxurious suites on the first floor to standard bedrooms on the second floor. In 2013 the original dining room was redesigned as Byron’s Brasserie paying homage to the famous poet whose ancestral home Colwick Hall is.
Today the Hall plays host to weddings, celebrations and gala dinners from 10 to 500 people. We also have development plans within the grounds for additional accommodation and an orangery.
Information sourced from Nottinghamshire History and Thoroton Society, further details on nottshistory.org.uk
Browse our Leaflet here to learn more about Colwick Halls History.