A short history of Quorn Hall
In the 13th Century, Robert De Farnham came to Leicestershire and settled in Quorndon on a small estate. He built a hall probably near the site of the present Quorn Hall, and his successors became the squires of Quorndon.
John De Farnham, descendant of the original Robert De Farnham, had two sons, the elder Robert De Farnham, and Thomas Farnham, the younger. It is from the younger son that we date the beginning of Quorn Hall, or Nether Hall as it was first known. It is probable that Thomas Farnham, rather than seek his fortune in war, received a gift of land from his father or elder brother, and started an estate of his own. On a quiet stretch of the River Soar, between Barrow and Quorndon, he built the Nether Hall. The exact date on which Thomas Farnham left the older branch of the family is uncertain but was approximately between 1430 and 1440. Thomas Farnham was a very clever and ambitious man and gathered together a large estate before he died.
In 1666 Henry Farnham inherited the estate and in 1680, the Nether Hall was destroyed by fire. Henry spent large sums of money rebuilding the present hall, which henceforth was known as Quorn Hall. It was a two-storey building with its front entrance facing the river. Although many additions and alterations have been made over the years, the shape of this original building can still be traced.
Henry Farnham incurred such enormous debts by his buildings programme that in 1684 he was forced to sell Quorn Hall. In 1686 a local man, George Morton, bought the Hall and a few years later it became the property of Henry Collingwood. This gentleman provides us with our legend of a Quorn Hall ghost or ghosts. The legend has it that one dark night in the year 1708, Henry Collingwood murdered his wife. A year or two later he died, and ever since, so the legend says, it has been his custom at infrequent intervals to gallop around the paddock at twelve o’clock with his head under his arm. His wife is also reputed to haunt the Hall dressed in black silk.
Quorn Hall subsequently became the property of Justinian Rainsford, who in 1750 rented the Hall to Lawrence, Earl Ferrers. This gentleman had a violent temper, and he was frequently in the grip of uncontrollable fits of passion. In 1760, when in the grip of one of these fits, he shot and killed his Steward, Johnson. The Earl was subsequently tried by his Peers and sentenced to death. It was considered at this time a great concession to public opinion that a Peer of the Realm should be condemned to death on such a charge and, in order to console the unhappy Earl, he was allowed the privilege of being hanged by a silken rope.
In 1753, the Hall became the property of Hugo Meynell, whose name became a household word wherever fox hunting was fashionable. For the next 150 years Quorn Hall was to be the home of the famous Quorn Hunt.
Hugo Meynell was responsible for many alterations to Quorn Hall, adding another storey, thus making it a three-storey building and also adding a large dining room. He built extensive stables and kennels to house the horses and hounds of the hunt. The stables and remains of the kennels can still be seen behind the Hall. Hugo Meynell was Master of the Quorn Hunt from 1753 to 1800. He died in 1808, having moved out of the Hall into Huntsman’s Cottage, which he had built some years earlier, close to the stables.
Quorn Hall continued as the official residence of the Master of the Quorn Hounds for a further century and succeeding Masters bought the Hall as they bought the Hunt. In 1855 Mr Edward Warner took up residence in the Hall, and devoted some effort to the improvement of the Hall grounds. He arranged a beautiful avenue lined with chestnut trees leading from the Hall out to Barrow and Nottingham. At the entrance to the chestnut avenue he built a little gate house, and he built a similar one alongside the River Soar at the entrance to the main drive leading to the front of the Hall. The chestnut avenue and the two gate houses can still be seen. Mr Warner’s son, Captain W F Warner, became Master of the Hunt in 1886.
The Quorn Hunt had been associated with the Hall for over 150 years, but the need was now felt for larger and more modern buildings. The final break came in 1906 when new premises at Pawdy crossroads outside Barrow were completed and the hounds and horses made their last departure from Quorn Hall.
In 1929, after the death of Captain Warner, the family left the district. Quorn Hall was once again put up for sale and eventually became the home of the Quorn Country Club Limited. It was during this time that the main entrance to the Hall was moved from the riverside of the Hall to the back. The old main doorway into the Hall was disguised as a large window and today one enters the Hall through the paved loggia porch.
In 1937, Quorn Hall and its estate became too much for the Country Club to run economically. The Hall was sold to Loughborough Training College for the sum of £7000 to be used as a Hall of Residence for the students at the College. Before any students could take up residence in Quorn Hall, the 1939-1945 World War had started, with the result that the Hall was taken over by the Admiralty to house naval personnel taking various courses at the College. The Hall was found to be too small for this purpose and in 1941 the old servants wing, which extended from the back of the Hall, was altered. This wing had remained almost the same since the Hall was first built in 1680. The box-like appearance of this extension is completely out of character with the rest of the building.
With the end of the war, Quorn Hall was once again taken over by the Loughborough College and adapted for the residence of students. It continued as a Hall of Residence until 1977 when the College became part of Loughborough University.
In December 1977, a group of German students from Dudweiler Gymnasium came to Quorn Hall and stayed for one week. The arrival of this group marked the beginnings of what became the Leicestershire International Education Centre. It remained like this until Quorn Hall School was established on the site.