Inside Nunnington Hall

Mrs Fife’s Bedroom is one of the many cosy and comfortable rooms within Nunnington Hall

Nunnington Hall sits on the quiet bank of the River Rye. A dwelling of status is recorded here from 1249, but the existing house has grown out of a Tudor hall. Over the past 450 years the house and estate has been altered to suit a succession of owners and tenants. But the house we see today is a fascinating combination of renovation and re-purpose, creating the atmospheric and comfortable home.

In 1920 Nunnington Hall, now in a poor state and uninhabited for a number of years, was inherited by Margaret Fife from her uncle, Henry. Margaret had always adored Nunnington, and as a girl used to stay in a farmhouse in the village and became very attached to the dilapidated house, ‘the big house’.

Watercolour of Nunnington Hall by Frederick D Ogilvie
Watercolour of Nunnington Hall from the west by Frederick D Ogilvie
She soon made the decision to sell her main property, Newby Wiske Hall, in order to fund the renovations for Nunnington.
Margaret was a strong, principled character, amusing with an infectious laugh. She met Ronald Fife at a country- house shooting party in Cheshire in 1912, during which he proposed. Ronald was a man of action, a professional soldier, serving in a number of colonies overseas including South Africa and India. When not away for duty, he was still a keen sportsman and big- game hunter.
By 1917 the couple had adopted two young girls, Susan and Rosalind, and in less than a year of inheriting Nunnington, renovations had begun turning the rundown house into a true family home.


On your visit don’t miss…..

The Stone Hall

At the heart of the house the Stone Hall was a great hall in the 16th-century, a kitchen in the 17th century and by 1921 an entrance hall in which parties were held and table tennis was played.
Walter Brierley, the architect engaged by the Fife's to renovate the Hall,  reinstated the Tudor origins and the walls were adorned with Colonel Fife's game trophies.
Explore the history of the Stone Hall
Nunnington Hall Stone Hall

The Smoking Room & Lord Prestons Room

In the 17th-century this room was Lord Preston’s bedchamber, with adjacent closet. In imitation of the Court of Versailles he would receive visitors, take meals and sleep.
By the 20th-century the space was used by Colonel Fife as his Smoking Room, and was painted a ‘Georgian Green’ colour with mezzotints adorning the walls.
Smoking Room at Nunnington Hall
Smoking Room at Nunnington Hall

The Oak Hall

During Lord Preston’s remodelling, in the late 17th-century, this room became an entrance hall. It was fitted out accordingly with impressive door-cases with open topped pediments, a screen of three arches and a stone floor laid in a sophisticated pattern of squares and hexagons.

See the carved family crest above the fireplace
Nunnington Hall Oak Hall

The Baby House

This beautiful family Baby House belonged to Margaret Fife and inherited it from her mother Mary. It is called a Baby House because if it’s small-scale, it may have been made for the amusement of a grown woman rather than a child.

Although its design is late 18th century, many Baby Houses lagged behind contemporary design by thirty years or more, and it was actually made in 1810. Displayed within the rooms, you can see a set of 18th century Grodenthal dolls. These specific types of dolls are recognisable from their jointed arms and fish- tail hands, with the females also carrying a comb in their hair.

Explore the 18th century Baby House and dolls
18th century baby house