About Wothorpe Towers
The whole historic site including the Towers was purchased from the Burghley House Preservation Trust in 2004 by Janet and Paul Griffin. They have carried out a painstaking programme of repair and consolidation of the Towers. As a result the building has been removed from the national At-Risk register. The Towers structure has been gifted by them to the Wothorpe Towers Preservation Trust which is now responsible for the future care and upkeep of the building.
About the buildings
Wothorpe House was built as a lodge by Thomas Cecil, 1st Earl of Exeter, the eldest son of William Cecil, 1st Lord Burghley the great advisor to Elizabeth I. Thomas was passionate about architecture and used his knowledge to create an imposing, novel and uniquely ornate structure described as “the least of noble houses but the very best of lodges”. The plan of the building is in the form of a Greek cross church design and the window detailing with their decorative carved stonework is clearly based on drawings created by the well known and influential Renaissance Italian designer Sebastiano Serlio. His published Architectural Treatises were widely admired and used across Europe at that time. The house is thought to have been under construction from 1615-1620. In sharp contrast to the Elizabethan hall house form, it was one of the first houses of compact design to have a separate entrance hall.
Following the death of Thomas in 1623, the house was leased to members of the Cecil family and later to the Second Duke of Buckingham. It was used finally as a Dower House.
In the mid 1700s however, Brownlow the 9th Earl decided that the house was no longer required and it was purposely partially dismantled, leaving what remains today. The ogee roof caps of the four towers remained until removed in the mid 19th Century.
About the Charity
Wothorpe Towers Preservation Trust (WTPT) is a registered charity (England & Wales number 1123260, registered company no 5594993). Its objects are heritage conservation and education.
About the grounds
The House and grounds were enjoyed as a retreat and for recreation. It benefited from an elaborate group of walled enclosures which included courtyards and gardens, a bowling green, a nearby racecourse and the possibility of hunting in neighbouring Rockingham forest.
The principal access to the Towers was through a series of courts from the west. On the site of the first court now sits the remains of a 19th century octagonal building once wrongly thought to have been used as a cockpit which was in fact a “palais de poulet”. The adjoining second walled garden court is in the process of restoration as is the final Lower Court which has the remains of the 17th century entrance steps and balustraded wall. To the east of the Towers is the Great Garden which once had raised terraces, formal planting and a unique zig-zag water feature – this area is also undergoing sympathetic re-presentation (follow progress of these areas in News). The survival of this collection of courts has few parallels.