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Pool House and Attached Stable Range and Cottage, Groby

Description: Pool House and Attached Stable Range and Cottage

Grade: II
Date Listed: 28 February 1991
English Heritage Building ID: 188537

OS Grid Reference: SK5205608017
OS Grid Coordinates: 452056, 308017
Latitude/Longitude: 52.6674, -1.2317

Location: Groby, Leicestershire LE6 0FL

Locality: Groby
Local Authority: Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council
County: Leicestershire
Country: England
Postcode: LE6 0FL

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Explore more of the area around Groby, Leicestershire at Explore Britain.

Listing Text

SK 50 NW
4/55 Pool House and attached
stable range and cottage

28.02.1991 II

House, formerly hunting box or lodge. For the Earls of Stamford and Warrington, landowners, and the Boothby family of Tooley Hall, lessees. Early C18, c.1760/70, with late C19 alterations and additions, partly stripped out late C20 following dry and wet rot damage. Charnwood granite rubble and brick, largely rendered. Limestone ashlar and brick dressings. Swithland slate roofs. 2 ridge and 2 gable stacks. South wing of c.1760/70, single storey over high basement, bracketed eaves cornice. South front has central doorway reached up a flight of 3 steps, round headed doorway has pilaster door surround with keystone and panelled door, flanked by single segment-headed sashes with louvred shutters. Surrounds have an alternating series of limestone and brick dressings in the 'Gibbs' style. Above are 3 gabled dormers. To the east and west sides a canted bay window with 3 glazing bar sashes with louvred shutters, and smaller similar windows below. The bay to east also has limestone and brick surrounds and corners, that to west is rendered over. East front, 3-storey with a tall external stack to right flanked by single segment-headed windows, with a smaller window to the left. Above 3 plain sashes, that to left with louvred shutters, and above again 3 further plain sashes. North front, early C18, with 2 brick bands, and with Edwardian additions, originally 5 bays, with a single surviving window on the ground floor now boarded, above 2 blind windows and above again two 3-light casements. The Edwardian additions have a small window, a panel door and a large 5-light casement to the Billiard Room. Cottage and stable range to north west restored after 1993. South front of this has, nearest the house, a 2-bay cottage with a central window flanked by doors, with 2-light flanking casements beyond. Above two 2-light casements. To the left is a further 2-storey wing, now also domestic accommodation with an off-centre 3-light cross casement flanked by part-glazed doors, that to left under a gabled hood, with, above, two 3-light casements and a 2-light casement to the right. Beyond to left is a pair of plank carriage doors, then a 2-light casement, a set of smaller plank doors to a garage and a further 2-light casement, a plank door and a 2-light casement. Then a slightly projecting tack room with central plank door, flanked by 2-light casements with above a gabled dormer with clock. Beyond are 3 stables and a 2-storey block with a 2-light sliding sash to each floor.

The c.1760/70 south block retains original features, the 2 main reception rooms flanking the entrance have original window surrounds and shutters, doors and door surrounds. Fine carved wood fireplace with Greek key frieze in room to right also skirting, dado rail and picture rail. Plaster cornice survives in part. The hall itself has a round headed arch with overlight and part of cornice surviving. Under the left reception room is a large kitchen with wide open fireplace, altered C19 to take a small fireplace to one side, the mantlepiece may be earlier and re-used. This and other ground floor rooms have chamfered beams. In the stripped out area is a large blocked inglenook fireplace with chamfered bressumer. There is a brick shallow-vaulted cellar. The staircase is c.1845 with mahogany handrail and newel posts, and with iron balusters, some missing. The Edwardian billiard room contains its original fixtures including fireplaces. Some upper rooms retain C18 doors with HL hinges, although much of the plaster has gone from the walls and ceilings, and fireplaces have been lost.

Until 1928 Pool House was included in the Leicestershire estates of the Greys of Groby, Earls of Stamford and Warrington and owners also of Enville in Staffordshire and Dunham Massey near Altrincham. The house was lot 99 in the extensive sale in that year. They built nearby Bradgate c.1500 which was one of the great mansions of the late medieval period. Lady Jane Grey, who was brought up at Bradgate, became the unfortunate 'Nine Days Queen'. Shortly after the visit of William III to Bradgate in 1696 the Leicestershire estate became used mainly for hunting in the splendid deer park rather than as a residence and the mansion was allowed to fall into decay. When the family came to stay they appear to have used Steward's Hay, a farmhouse less than a mile north of Pool House.

Pool House is so named because it is close to Groby Pool, a large sheet of water which appears to have been created as a mill pond soon after the Conquest. The history of the house in the C18 shows that it was never a farmhouse but always a hunting and fishing box and a house of recreation. The principal part bears out this unusual use. In addition to this specialised use it also appears to have extra significance in being the first hunting box leased specially for fox hunting in the county and one of the earliest in the country.

From at least 1735 (the date of the earliest C18 rent roll to survive at Enville) until the 1780's or 90's Pool House was leased as a hunting box to the Boothby family, squires and owners of Tooley Hall some few miles away to the south west, a seat they had occupied since 1630. As well as renting land at Groby the Boothbys rented Pool House for what was in effect a peppercorn rent of 2 shillings a year.
The lease was to run for three lives, and it is not clear whether the Boothbys rented and occupied the house perhaps only for the hunting season or built or added to the house themselves on the understanding that it reverted to the Stamfords after the death of the last survivor. However a semi-permanent occupation seems likely as Thomas Boothby's mistress lived in the house in the 1730's and his daughter-in-law was left the lease by her husband in the 1770's. From a map of 1757, which shows the house in 3D and names it as 'The Pool House', it is clear that by then it had the present rear facade facing the pool and two gables facing south as well as a formally laid out garden on the banks of the pool. There are some but not many outbuildings, showing that it was a residence rather than a farm. The rear part of the house certainly conforms in the main to the drawing on the 1757 map and the chamfered bridging beams and two-panel doors with HL hinges which survive in the house bear out an early C18 date for the building.

Thomas Boothby, who first leased Pool House and who died in 1752, is very significant in the history of fox hunting and was one of the first to have kept a pack of hounds used exclusively for hunting the fox. His obituary in the The Gentlemen's Magazine says simply 'one of the greatest sportsmen in England.' His was most probably the first pack of fox hounds in the English Shires. His silver hunting horn is on display in Melton Mowbray Museum and the inscription added by his grandson states that 'he hunted the first [probably meaning 'finest'] pack of fox hounds then in England 55 years.' Thomas came into Tooley Park in 1697 and died in 1752, and thus the dates seem to tally. Boothby also rented land within Bradgate park itself, probably for his horses. It is very likely that Pool House is one of the earliest if not the first leased fox hunting box in the country (i.e. a hunting box outside the hunter's own land), though it also housed Boothby's mistress he used it for fishing in the pool. After the death of Thomas Boothby, the Boothbys continued to have a close connection with fox hunting and in particular with the famous Quorn Hunt which was founded in 1753 when Hugo Meynell first leased Quorn Hall, which is only a few miles away to the north-east. Meynell, who founded the Quorn and is known as 'the founder of the modern English chase', may well have taken over Boothby's pack: his Derbyshire estate was next to Boothby's and he married Boothby's granddaughter in 1758. She was sister of 'Prince' Boothby who shared with Meynell the cost of the hunt in the later part of the C18 until he shot himself in 1800. The Pool House lease followed on after Thomas's death to his younger son Charles Skrymshire Boothby until he died in 1774, when the lease was then left his widow. Pool House is recorded as being leased to 'Mrs. Boothby' in 1778. Charles may have been the third life and the lease was renegotiated after his death but at the same peppercorn rate. It is very likely that Prince Boothby would have used his uncle's Pool Housefor hunting as well as his own Tooley Hall and other houses, as he was a major beneficiary in his will. The Quorn hunted this area for it is known that Meynell hunted over Bradgate, sometimes together with the Stamfords' pack, when the Earl's family were themselves staying at Steward's Hay.

It is probable from the style that the important addition to Pool House was added in the 60's or early 70's for Charles Boothby when hunting was becoming more fashionable and when his nephew, Prince Boothby, like his parents, was very much part of high society. The parties in London which Prince's mother gave are mentioned in Horace Walpole's diaries.

This addition of an impressive set of two receptions rooms over a large basement was added onto the south side. This could either have been paid for by the Boothby family, still leasing on the peppercorn 2 shilling rent or possibly by the Earls themselves. The 4th Earl was contemplating works at Enville in the 1750's and in 1768 the 5th Earl inherited and over the next few years there are projects for the rebuilding of Enville. Indeed John Hope added a wing to Enville c.1770 . If the 5th Earl did not commission the addition himself it is very likely he was involved to a certain extent since he was interested in art and architecture. He had been on the Grand Tour in 1760 , at the same time as Prince Boothby, 3 years younger, was himself on the Continent. The 5th Earl was very wealthy, a collector of pictures, a Member of the Society of Antiquaries, and had married a daughter of the Duke of Portland of Welbeck, the huge house in Nottinghamshire. This whole addition to Pool House is like a 'villa' and is impressive with large canted bays which are seen in other upmarket houses of the time such as those on the banks of the Thames. The rooms are large and lofty being much grander than the rest of the house. The surviving fireplace in one of the rooms has considerable style, exactly that of people in fashionable society. What is of particular interest is the use of the house as one principally for recreation. Nichols' History and Antiquities of Leicestershire, 1804, has two simple engravings illustrating Groby Pool, one of which shows Pool House with the, then recent, south front.

From about the 1790's to the 1830's Pool House was leased by John Pares, a significant Leics. and Derbys. banker and landowner at £20 per annum, a much more realistic figure for the house especially with the recent additions.

By the late 1830's Pool House had reverted to the Stamfords and had become the residence of John Martin, the son of the Bradgate Agent. He was manager of the Stamford granite and slate quarries but also a talented artist. He probably occupied the house both for convenience but also to look after it, because it was not seen as for his sole use since the young heir to the earldom came to stay with him for drawing lessons and continued to do so when he became 7th Earl in 1845 at the age of 18 and had inherited a rent roll of £90,000 per annum. At this time Pool House was clearly preferred to Steward's Hay to stay in when the Earl came to Bradgate, as he frequently did. A butler and housekeeper and other full-time staff were kept and always ready to receive visitors, and the Earl even had flowers sent from Dunham Massey to Pool House prior to his arrival! He must have had further work done because from its style and appearance the present staircase dates from this period. Indeed Steward's Hay was no longer approved of because the Earl completely rebuilt it in 1854 and replaced it with a large Neo-Jacobean mansion, now demolished.

John Martin moved to Whatton House in 1852 and died a few years later. There is a record of Pool House being leased in 1863 and again in 1922 just prior to the sale and the last lessee, J.M.Logan, appears to have bought Pool House at the sale for he is still in occupation in 1936 and a Mrs.Logan, presumably his widow, lived on in the house until her death in the 1980's.

Pool House is one of the earliest foxhunting boxes to survive and was also used for fishing. It was leased from the Grey family, Earls of Stamford, by the Boothby family of Tooley Hall for much of the C18 and they or the Earls built and extended it. Although there have been some losses due to an attack of dry rot much of the C18 structure survives and the south front range of c.1760/70 has two grand reception rooms. This has characteristics of the 'villas' of the period. The stable and cottage range also survives. After being leased again at the end of the C18 it was however used by the young 7th Earl of Stamford himself in the 1840's when he visited his Leicestershire estate and the staircase dates from this period. Pool House remained in the ownership of the Grey family until the estate was sold in 1928.

The house's form reflects its specialised uses and unusual history and context as being closely associated with the beginnings of the wide popularity of foxhunting in this country, as well as with the recreational pursuits of wealthy landowners in the C18.

Leics. C. Records Office and Enville Hall private archive through pers. comm. David A.Ramsey.
David A.Ramsey, Bradgate and its villages series, Books 1(2002) and 5(2003), passim, esp. Bk.5 pp.48-59.
C.D.B.Ellis, Leicestershire and the Quorn Hunt, 1951, p.3-13.
J.D.Bennett, Vanished Houses of Leicestershire, 1971, illus. of Tooley Hall.
J.B.Firth, Highways and Byways in Leicestershire, 1926, p.406-8.
J.Nichols, History and Antiquities of Leicestershire, 1804, Vol.IV, p.178.
J.Stevenson, The Greys of Bradgate, 1974.
M.Forsyth, The History of Bradgate, 1974.
Dunham Massey guide book, 1981.

Listing NGR: SK5205608017

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.