History of Kelmarsh Hall & Gardens
The Domesday book records the population of the village of Kelmarsh, in 1086 at around eighty people, working in open fields, belonging to two mannors, the Royal Mannor of Rothwell and the other owned by William de Peverel, Sheriff of Nottingham and Derby. Numbers increased and fluctuated through the middle ages and a Tudor tax return of 1534 states around two hundred and fifty residents. This too declined in subsequent years, leaving the land largely laid to arable and sheep pasture. Today, there are approximately one hundred people living in Kelmarsh Village.
John Hanbury purchased the Hall at Kelmarsh form a short-term intermediary named Smith in 1618. Hanbury, a successful wool merchant from Worcestershire paid £11,600 for the Hall in three instalments. At the time the ‘fayre dwelling house’ comprised the Hall, barn stables, gardens and orchard over 5 acres. The present Hall and gardens was built by William Hanbury I in 1732 who wrote upon completion that… ‘[I] believe there is nothing could more add to the happiness I enjoy’. The Hanbury descendants remained in residence at Kelmarsh Hall until 1865 when Richard Christopher Naylor of Cheshire purchased it from Lord Bateman’s mortgagors.
The Kelmarsh Hall Estate is a typical Midland agricultural landscape covering over 1,000ha (3,000 acres) made up of a mix of arable cropland with pasture, woodlands and parkland. Farm land is the largest land use type and is managed by tenant farmers.
An in-house team cares for the many small spinneys and coverts that dot the landscape, a reminder of the area’s foxhunting heritage. Good management of the woodland has gained its timber products a FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) accreditation.
Much of the parkland lies above a deserted medieval village and as such is a Scheduled ancient monument. It is grazed by a herd of British White cattle, descendents of the herd established by the Lancaster family in 1903.