Works to install a new biomass heating system – which will slash both the hall’s carbon footprint and its heating bills – have provided the opportunity to explore one of Nunnington’s long standing mysteries.
When the hall was sold in 1839, the sale catalogue mentioned recent demolition of additional wings containing no fewer than 34 rooms, including the hall’s chapel. These must have been in the space between the river Rye and the hall as we see it today.
“These were very probably the oldest parts of the building, dating from the medieval or Tudor periods” said Mark Newman, our Archaeologist who is directing the project. “Whenever we do maintenance or improvement works on our properties we look for opportunities to explore, record and protect the archaeological remains that lie hidden. Cutting trenches for new pipes and cables can reveal a lot – though several previous investigations nearby have been too shallow to find any trace of the missing buildings”.
This January our luck changed, and we were rewarded with a glimpse of a stout limestone wall and a cobbled courtyard from Nunnington’s distant past. No surviving historic map shows any buildings nearby, in the yard to the north of the hall.
“We’re thrilled to have long held theories – based on years of research and investigation by NT staff and enthusiastic research volunteers at the property – finally proven by real discoveries, showing us where and at what depth remains really survive. This will be a great help in planning our future care for Nunnington”.
A second phase of excavations is planned for the coming weeks, when it is hoped that yet more will be revealed.