Inside Nunnington Hall

Nunnington Hall Oak 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 have been altered to suit a succession of owners and tenants. The house we see today is a fascinating combination of renovation and re-purpose, creating an atmospheric and comfortable home.

Margaret's 'big house' 

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
Watercolour of Nunnington Hall 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.
 
2021 marks 100 years since the start of the last major renovations to Nunnington Hall. The Fifes employed the architect Walter Brierley to turn the rundown house into a true family home. This year, explore an exhibition about the changes made to Nunnington Hall. 
 
Nunnington Hall is also home to one of the world's finest collections of miniature rooms in the attic - the Carlisle Collection. 

 

Just a few of our favourite rooms........ 

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.

 

The Smoking 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 here.
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
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
See the carved family crest above the fireplace

The Drawing Room

Lord Preston’s great chamber became the Fife’s Drawing Room, where the French windows open to a balcony overlooking the garden. Mrs Fife and her daughters spent their evenings in the Drawing Room, playing and listening to music. While Nunnington Hall’s 17th century Verdure tapestries are away for conservation work, The Essex House Tapestries: the life of Julie Cope by Grayson Perry will hang in their place until December 2021. 

The Drawing Room at Nunnington Hall, with artwork by Grayson Perry
The Drawing Room at Nunnington Hall, The Essex Tapestries by Grayson Perry
The Drawing Room at Nunnington Hall, with artwork by Grayson Perry