Moments from the Great North Road, as it passes through Lincolnshire, is Stoke Rochford Hall in its lovely undulating park. The present house is a delicious early Victorian confection of towers and turrets, contemporary with the obelisk. But there were earlier houses in the park, and two intriguing arches are reminders of an earlier age.
In 1806 the then owner of Stoke Rochford Hall, Edmund Turnor (1754-1829), M.P. and antiquarian, published Collections for the history of the town and soke of Grantham… In it he wrote that the ‘front of the stables’, built in 1676, was ‘still remaining, and contrived as to form the west end of the gardens’.
On the opposite hill, he continued, was a ‘summerhouse corresponding with the centre of the stables’. The Historic England list entry says the summerhouse is dated 1704, although it is difficult to decipher the plaque today. Below the plaque, carved directly into the fabric of the summerhouse, is a Latin inscription which records that Sir Edmund Turnor, Knight Bachelor, (1619-1707) placed the building here when he was 86, which would have been in 1705 or 1706.
By 1815, when the Ordnance Survey drawings were prepared, the front of the stables was no more, and the entrance arch had been rebuilt as an eye-catcher to be seen both from the drive to the house, and from its twin arch summerhouse. This recycled arch bears a plaque with the date 1676 and the inscription ‘Qu’o conspectior e’o humilior’: The more I am noticed, the more humble [I am]. Both are today listed at Grade I.
In 1847 Charles Turnor (1768-1853), Prebendary of Lincoln Cathedral, antiquarian, and ‘patron of science’, added to the ornaments in the park by erecting an obelisk in memory of Sir Isaac Newton, who was born in nearby Woolsthorpe. The monument was the work of the architect William Burn (1789-1870), who was then working on remodelling the village church, having designed the new house a few years earlier.
The obelisk was announced to the world in the pages of an Astronomical Society Report in early 1848, and this was picked up by the press and the news more widely circulated. The report included the full inscription, but to summarise here: Charles Turnor erected the monument in 1847 in memory of Sir Isaac, and his inscription exhorts ‘the inhabitants of the surrounding district’ never to forget that so great a man was born, and began his education, ‘in the immediate neighbourhood’.
Stoke Rochford Hall has been in institutional use since it was requisitioned during the Second World War. For 38 years it served as a hotel and conference centre for the National Union of Teachers, and in 2016 it was leased to a hotel and wedding venue operator. The estate remains with Turnor descendants.
The hotel has all the usual food offerings, and the landscape, which also features a lovely lake and a cascade, can also be viewed from public rights of way. The very pretty little village is worth exploring, and there are wonderful Turnor and Cholmeley (of Easton) monuments in the church.
For more on the hotel https://www.stokerochfordhall.co.uk
Thanks to the newly-recruited Classics Correspondent for help with the Latin inscriptions.
If you would like to share any thoughts or further information, please scroll down to the comments box at the foot of the page. Thank you for reading.