The Grantleys of Grantley Hall - and Markenfield...
The Hall’s peripatetic ownership over the course of 200 years, and the fact that it was inhabited by a series of tenant farmers, essentially preserved the house in the extraordinary Mediaeval form that visitors see it today – the tenants having neither the means or the inclination to make any changes.
Fletcher Norton. 1st Baron Grantley of Markenfield
In 1761 the Hall was bought by lawyer and MP Fletcher Norton, who went on to become Solicitor General and after being knighted became the Speaker of the House of Commons. Although he never lived in the house but at nearby Grantley Hall, he did not buy it simply as an investment but out of family loyalty, for he was a direct descendent of Sir Richard Norton, standard bearer of the Rising of the North and Uncle to Sir Thomas Markenfield.
Despite having given deep offence to the King, George III, and many others – including the elder Pitt – and being nicknamed (perhaps unfairly) as ‘Sir Bull-face Double-fees’, Sir Fletcher Norton was at last elevated to the Peerage in 1782, and chose as his title ‘Baron Grantley of Markenfield’ – a title the family still hold today.
He clearly prized this link with the past, although he never lived at Markenfield, having amassed enough money to extend the modest Jacobean Grantley Hall into a formidable Georgian mansion. Grantley Hall was eventually sold in January 1900, by 5th Lord Grantley. Further information about Grantley and it’s history can be found on the (now) hotel’s website HERE.
Family legend has it that the Grantley family rises from obscurity every three generations, and so – three generations later – came another Fletcher Norton, 3rd Baron Grantley of Markenfield.
Fletcher Norton. 3rd Baron Grantley of Markenfield
Before he succeeded to the peerage Fletcher had been marked out for a military career, possibly to curb his “wild behaviour”, as described in surviving letters. He joined the Grenadier Guards in his teens and (still in his teens) was awarded the Waterloo medal, visible in his much later portrait by Beechey.
Fletcher played an important role in Markenfield’s history, working with local architect JR Walbran to carry out a number of alterations to the Hall – including the removal of the first floor entrance to the Great Hall and the insertion of the internal staircase seen today.
His most striking addition however was the creation of the Victorian farm buildings that still greet visitors to the Hall. Designed as two courtyards attached to the existing Tudor long barns, the buildings are model farm recreations of the main courtyard complex. The farm buildings are Grade II Listed.
Further information on the Grantley family can be found in Lady Deirdre’s booklet The Grantleys of Markenfield, which can be purchased below.