Huntingdon Hall

Huntingdon Hall

Location: Loxton, East Mercia
Completed: 1397
Renovations: 1673
Extension: 1831
Owned by: Loxley Family
Current resident: Robyn Loxley

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Huntingdon Hall is the ancestral home of the Loxley family, one of the six Founding Families of East Mercia and the seat of the Loxley Estate. Built in 1305 as a hunting lodge for Empress Ivette II, it was gifted by Queen Mary-Anne to the Loxley family in 1378, along with the Duchy of Huntingdon, as reward for the Loxleys’ long term loyalty to the Fitzwalter family in general and especially to Margaret Adelaide Loxley for her assistance to Queen Mary-Anne during the Sacking of the Vatican. There had been a Loxley in residence in the Hall from 1378 until the death of Eleanor Loxley and the disappearance of her daughter Robyn Loxley in 2016, during the Promised Land Campaign. The Hall is currently occupied by Eleanor’s step-daughter Philippa Murdoch, Sheriff of Nottingham. The farmlands belonging to the Loxley Estate were signed over to King John II by Philippa.

History

The original hunting lodge still stands and forms the centrepiece of the current building. It’s constructed from stone, and its gothic structure towers over the landscape. Inside, a vaulted ceiling is supported by huge stone pillars and the arched windows still contain some of their original stained glass.

The lodge was first extended in 1391 by William Arnott, widower of Adelaide Loxley and father to Abigail Loxley, the second Duchess of Huntingdon. He added an East and a West wing as well as extensive gardens. The renovations took over five years and it was on their completion in 1397 that the Hall gained its current title, having previously been referred to simply as Loxley Lodge.

The Hall then remained largely unchanged until 1673, when it suffered extensive damage during the Acorn Uprising. After Queen Eleanor Loxley’s coronation later that year, plans were drawn up to demolish the old Hall and create an entirely new structure, more befitting her new royal status. However, in the aftermath of the war concerns about cost led to these designs being scrapped and it was decided to renovate the existing building instead.

The oldest section of the Hall had suffered only minor smoke and cosmetic damage. The East wing of the building was still structurally sound, although the roof had been destroyed by fire. The West wing, on the other hand, which had taken the majority of the damage, could not be salvaged and was demolished, leaving the Hall with a somewhat lopsided appearance for the following 150 years.

In 1831, Cameron Loxley, 6th Duke of Huntingdon began a new program of building work which created the current West wing and enlarged the kitchens. This was completed in 1840 and marks the last structural alteration to the building.

Links to the Community

Huntingdon Hall has always had close links to the surrounding community. The Dukes and Duchesses of the Duchy resided there and, as leaders, were responsible for the residents of the Duchy of Huntingdon. From the moment of its construction they were a major employer in the area. Following Eleanor Loxley’s coronation in 1673, extra land was acquired and worked as farmland. Initially this was done to assist recovery in the aftermath of the war, but by the early 18th century Huntingdon had become a major supplier of grain and produce for the Nottingham area.

During the Second Hycath War, the East Wing was transformed into an emergency field hospital, headed up by Roger Bernard Loxley, 8th Duke of Huntingdon, who was a surgeon. After the war, he was awarded the East Mercia Octad in recognition of his service.

Huntingdon did not escape the effects of The Change in the early 20th century, with much of their yields down eighty per cent. During the Great Torrent in 1921 many crops were entirely lost due to large parts of the lands being submerged. The waters eventually receded, but the flooded lands remained unworkable for several years. Following these events, the Loxley family members became pioneers in cultivating crops with and in seawater. In 1938, in the midst of the Long Famine, Margaret Eleanor Loxley the 9th Duchess ordered that the boundary fences be fortified to protect the crops they were still able to grow.

Trivia

Huntingdon Hall is the oldest continually occupied building in East Mercia.

The Hall is said to be haunted by several ghosts, including a young boy in 17th-century dress who has been seen in the West wing and is thought to be the child of a servant, killed during the Acorn Uprising.

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