Cosgrove Hall

Mr Mansel, labelled: Drawing Room, Hall, Closet (twice), Justice Room, Wardrobe etc, Closet (twice), Dressing / Closet, The Library & Breakfast / room, Passage to Kitchen, Eating Room, Kitchen, Scullery, Pantry and some dimensions give. Note: It is proposed to save expence & to have / Offices under the Eating Room, Library & Drawing Room, & cellars under the / Justice Room & Dressing Closet. Second Note: The plan contains six chambers & three / Dressing Rooms, & also six Attics / In this plan both the Staircases are lighted with upright lights

Signed and dated June 7 1799


These plans were drawn up for the Mansel family in 1799 and can be viewed at the link below. They appear by courtesy of the Trustees of Sir John Soane's Museum.

They are labelled "unexecuted" but together with the Rooms List, give an excellent idea of what the Mansels wanted and relate well to what was eventually built.

The account below by Baker from around 1836 gives his eyewitness description of the layout.



The South-East Front - early 1800s
North-West Front - early 1800s

Baker (History of Northants., II (1836-41)

Cosgrove Hall, the seat of Major Mansel, was the mansion of the Longuevilles, but has been much altered and improved by the present possesser. In the house are portraits of Mary Anne Biggin, wife of maj-general Mansel, and her two brothers, by Sir Joshua Reynolds; George Biggin, esq. full-length, in the costume of a salt-bearer at Eton montem; and the ascent of the same gentleman in the ballon from St. George's fields

On approaching the village from Stony Stratford, the first house on the right hand side of the road is a charming little one storied cottage, covered with thatch; which is the entrance lodge to the carriage drive leading up to Cosgrove Hall.

The Lodge

The house is entirely built of local limestone and is almost square in plan. It is of three stories, the upper rooms having square windows in the roof.

The carriage drive leads up to the main entrance, which is in the centre of the north western front, and is sheltered by a porch which was added some time after the house was erected. Above this is a curiously wrought stone, carved to represent the eastern end or apse of an ecclesiastical building. This stone was brought from the Priory of Black Canons at Tynemouth, County Northumberland by the wife of Major John Christopher Mansel, who was Miss M A Linskill, of Tynemouth Lodge.

On either side of the porch is a window opening into the hall, and above there are three more windows. On either side there are four flat pilasters, having capitals of the composite order, running from ground to roof, and on the south eastern front there are also eight pilasters, which, however, have plain capitals. Above the windows on the ground floor, there is a heavy string course, which runs right round the building. All the windows have broad, flat, raised borders, with small projecting keystones.

On the north eastern side there is a small conservatory, leading out of the drawing room, which is quite modern, having been erected since the time when Clarke made his drawing of the house.

The roof is high pitched, and was originally tiled, but it is now slated.


Interior
The hall is small and leads on the right to the drawing-room, which is a large and handsome apartment, and is more lofty than the other portions of the house; the rooms above being reached by several steps, to allow for this additional height. This room occupied the whole of the north eastern wing of the house. Adjoining the drawing room is a good sized and very pleasant dining room fronting the south east. Beyond this is a small study, which opens into a little place known as “The Justice’s Room”. Beyond this again is the kitchen, with servant’s quarters. Returning to the front, the main staircase is at the end of the hall, opposite to the drawing room. Upstairs there are some sixteen bed and dressing rooms; and in the wing on the left there is a suite of rooms for a bachelor.

On the lawn, opposite to the front door, there are two magnificent cedar trees, which appear to be about one hundred and twenty years old.

The church is close to the house and can be seen from the grounds. Bridges says that “Mr Rigby and Mr Longueville have each a manʃion houʃe and a conʃiderable eʃtate in Coveʃgrave.”

Baker says that “Cosgrave Hall, the seat of Major Mansel, was the mansion of the Longuevilles, but has been much altered and improved by the present proprietor. In the house are portraits of Mary Anne Biggin, wife of Major General Mansel, and her two brothers, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, George Biggin, Esq., full length, in the costume of a salt-bearer at the Eton Montem; and the ascent of the same gentleman from St George’s Fields.”

George appears in the Eton Montem list of June 9th 1778 as Oppidan Salt Bearer.

[George attended Eton College from 1774 to 1778, and lodged with F. Yonge, a dame who resided at Jourdelay’s, which is still a boys’ house. George appears in the Eton Montem list of June 9th 1778 as Oppidan Salt Bearer, as described by Baker. This means he was a highly regarded student.]

This is the kind of costume he would have worn.


This extract from Magna Britannia [1806] describes the Eton tradition, "This procession is made every third year on Whit-Tuesday, to a tumulus near the Bath road, which has acquired the name of Salt-hill, by which also the neighbouring inns have been long known. The chief object of the celebrity is to collect money for salt, as the phrase is, from all persons present, and it is exacted even from passengers travelling the road. The scholars who collect the money are called salt-bearers, and are dressed in rich silk habits. Tickets inscribed with some motto, by way of pass-word, are given to such persons as have already paid for salt, as a security from any further demands.

Dealing first with the manor of Cosgrove, we find that the seventeenth century Christopher Rigby was possessed of the manor, the manor house (now known as the Priory), the water mill and lands; and that in August 1764 he sold the same to John Biggin of London, Esquire.

His second son, but heir by survivorship, was George Biggin, who took the estate, and died November 3rd 1803, having devised the property to George Mansel, the fifth son of Major General John Mansel and his sister, Mary Anne Biggin.

This Captain George Mansel died December 8, 1808; and the estate passed by settlement and devise to his eldest brother, Major John Christopher Mansel.

Turning to other portions of the parish of Cosgrove, we find that Edward Furtho, who died in 1621, was seized of the manor of Furtho, and two capital messuages in Cosgrove. On the partition of his estates between his two sisters and co-heirs, Cosgrove was assigned to Nightingale, then the wife of Samuel Maunsell. Soon after his death, about 1630, she married, for her second husband, Francis Longueville, who died in 1646. Nightingale had one son by her first husband – Edward Mansell – from whom was descended John Christopher Mansel, before mentioned. By her second husband she also had one son, Henry Longueville. He had three sons, the survivor of whom was [also] Henry Longueville. Of the two capital messuages in Cosgrove which fell to the share of Nightingale, probably one was the house to the west of the church now known as the Cottage [the Dower House]; and the other the old building lying between the Hall and the church, and which is now unoccupied; on this building there is a carved stone bearing the legend and date :

NOLI * PECARE

DEVS * VIDET

1652

One of these houses descended to the Mansels, and the other, Nightingale conveyed, in her second widowhood, to her son Henry Longueville, whose son, the before mentioned Henry Longueville devised it in 1741 to Major General John Mansel. From the General the property passed to his son John Christopher Mansel, before mentioned.

Thus the manor of Cosgrove, the manor house, the two capital messuages, the water mill and the whole estate passed to this John Christopher Mansel who died April 3, 1839. From him the estates went to [another] John Christopher Mansel, the son of his brother, Robert Mansel, who pre-deceased him.

Cosgrove Hall [1800s], J. C. Mansell, Esq.

This John Christopher Mansel, by deed dated October 7, 1881, conveyed the Hall and the greater part of the Cosgrove estate to Alexander William Thorold Grant Thorold of Weelsby, County Lincoln, Esquire, who was the son of his mother’s sister, who was the daughter of William Thorold, of Weelsby, Esquire.

Mr Grant Thorold, by deed dated July 22, 1891, conveyed the estate to his son, the present owner [1913] Harry Grant Thorold, Esquire.

It is not known who actually built the present Hall, though it may have been Henry Longueville, the grandson of Nightingale Longueville, who was a barrister of the Middle Temple and of Cosgrove, and who died December 26, 1741.

The drawings of Cosgrove Hall belong to Mrs Randolph, who kindly allowed them to be published.



1843 plan of the Hall, farm house, buildings and the Lodge

The dovecot at Cosgrove stands within the grounds and to the north-west of the Hall.
This little building is entirely constructed of local limestone. It measures at the ground level nineteen feet, eight inches, by eighteen feet. The height to the eaves is fourteen feet, and above them the roof rises for about ten feet; the lantern, which is quite open and covered with lead being about four feet high. The roof used to be covered with red tiles, but it is now slated (1913). The doorway is on the north side and is four feet, six inches in height and three feet, two inches in width. The door itself appears to be original, and the upper hinge of wrought iron still remains. The walls are two feet , ten inches in thickness at the base, and slightly taper. Inside there are some 540 nests, and a good many pigeons are still kept in the building.



Dovecot, Cosgrove Hall - Photograph by John Beasley 1913

Wolverton Express 16th January 1920

Messrs Hampton and Son report the sale privately of Cosgrove Hall, near Stony Stratford, with the Manor Farm adjoining, extending to about 370 acres. The Hall is an old Georgian house, occupying an attractive position in a well timbered park sloping to the canal. This was the only lot which remained unsold at the recent auction.


Wolverton Express 19th March 1920                              

Mr P C Gambell, of the firm of Messrs Wigley, Son and Gambell, Auctioneers, Newport Pagnell conducted a sale of valuable antique and modern furniture at Cosgrove Hall, on Tuesday last, by the direction of Major H Grant-Thorold. There was a large company present and some brisk bidding produced some good prices. Some of the prices realized are as follows:

An antique oak and walnut Queen Anne chest of 8 draws with brass handles, on stand, with cabriole lags and 2 drawers, £58. Antique mahogany Sheriton semi-circular tables fetched £30. A richly carved and gilt console table with white marble top, frieze decorated foliage and cherubs, four figure supports having scroll and enrichments £41. A pair of antique bronze pillar candlesticks with bronze figures supporting sconces, on circular marble bases £21. A carved oak kneehole writing table with 9 drawers £20. An antique walnut chest of 5 drawers with brass handles £22. A valuable empire burr walnut writing table, inlaid tulip wood and richly decorated ormolu, having 6 drawers on shaped legs £19. A black oak cabinet dated 1621, carved panels and figures £17. An antique oak base 8 day grandfather clock £16. An antique mahogany chest with engraved brass escutcheon and handles £13/10/-. An Adam settee on scroll legs and castors, upholstered silk tapestry with loose cretonne cover £9. Antique mahogany oval folding card-table inlaid satinwood and decorated festoons of flowers, with baize top and six legs £11. Antique mahogany oval folding card-table with 4 drawers and leather top on pillar with 4 feet £10. A carved and gilt console table on cabriole legs with shaped marble top £10. An 8 day striking clock with enamelled panels by Thomas Martin £6. Antique elm armchair and 5 chairs in American leather en suite £14. A set of mahogany dining tables (3ft 6in by 8 ft) £6. An antique inlaid walnut chest of drawers £8/10/-. Grained chests of 4 drawers £4/15/- and £5. An antique mahogany bedside cupboard £4. An antique commode as chest of drawers with brass handles £8. An antique oak chest of 5 drawers £4. An antique mahogany frame couch with loose cuchion and cover £4. White and gilt oval mirror with bevelled plate (3ft by 2ft 3in) £7. Antique inlaid circular front oak corners cupboard £9/10/-. An antique mahogany dressing table with drawer £4/10/-. Grained as oak dressing table with mirror £5/10/-. Antique couch on 7 tapered legs with loose cretonne cover £4. A mahogany half-tester bedstead, hangings and spring mattress £7. A 3ft stained as oak chest of 4 drawers £5/5/-. A gilt and white overmantle with 3 bevelled panels £6/5/-. Hair and wool mattresses £3 and £4/5/-. A 3ft stained as oak chest of 4 drawers £5/15/-. Stained dressing table with mirror £3/10/-. A painted and grained chest of 4 drawers £4. A 6ft 9in empire couch in ebonised frame with ormolu mounts, upholstered in tapestry £7. Antique mahogany frame Chippendale winged chair with loose cover £8. A 19½in blue and white circular Delph dish £7/10/-. A Chamberlain’s Worcester dessert service, 22 pieces, £5/5/-. A part Crown Derby dessert service, 16 pieces, £2/10/-. A Sunderland transfer tea and coffee service 33 pieces £6. A 15½in Oriental bowl £6/5/-. An 8 day Dresden striking clock £8. A Dresden tea and coffee service £6/10/-. A pair of cut glass 2 branch candelabra 20in high £8. A cut glass candelabra with 15 candle sconces £6/10/-. Two old cut glass dishes and cut glass jar £3/10/-. A pair of 12 bore double barrelled guns in leather case by E M Riley and Co., London £19. A pair pin-fire in wooden case by E Dodson Leith £5.

Among the oil paintings sold were a large oil-painting “Woodland Scene” in gilt frame £30; “Portrait of a Gentleman in Armour,” copy of a Vandyck, in gilt frame £6/10/-; “Still Life, Fruit,” £24; a portrait of “Admiral Sir Clondesley Shovel” £20; portrait of “Admiral Sir George Roche”; a “Lady with Fruit” in antique oval gilt frame £7; portrait copy of a Murillo £8; “Cattle and Figures” £27; “Sporting Scenes” £10;  portrait of a lady £5/10/-; “Still Life – Game and Fruit” £9/10/-; “Two Figures” £4/10/-.


Wolverton Express 10th June 1927

PC Gambell

In conjunction with

John D Wood & Co

Are instructed by Mrs. Agar to sell by auction as a whole or in lots (unless previously disposed of by private treaty), on Friday, July 15, 1927, at the Cock hotel, Stony Stratford, the valuable freehold

Residential & agricultural property, known as the Cosgrove Hall Estate, near Stony Stratford, the whole comprising an area of about 350 acres, and including the comfortable Georgian residence, having central heating and electric lighting, stabling, garage, lodge, and four cottages, old world gardens and grounds.

The Manor Farm, Cosgrove, with good house, buildings, cottages, and about 300 acres of good grass and arable land.

Particulars, conditions, and plans may be obtained in due course of the auctioneers, Mr. P C Gambell, Newport Pagnell and Olney; Messrs. John D Wood & Co, 6 Mount Street, London, W1; or of the solicitors, Messrs. Wrenstead, Hind & Roberts, Ormond House, 63 Queen Victoria street, London, EC 4


Wolverton Express 24th June, 1927

PC Gambell

In conjunction with

John D Wood & Co

Auction offices, Newport Pagnell and Olney

By direction of Mrs. B Agar.

As a whole or in three lots.

Freehold. Bucks and Northants borders.

Castlethorpe station 1¾ miles; Wolverton 4 miles, Bletchley 9 miles; about 52 miles from London.

The exceedingly attractive

Residential & Agricultural property, known as

“Cosgrove Hall”

Near Stony Stratford, of about

350 acres

Comprising the comfortable Georgian residence, about 250 feet above sea level, with good views. Hall, suite of three Reception rooms, facing south east, 14 bed & dressing rooms, several fitted with lavatory basins, five bath rooms. Central heating; electric light; modern drainage; capital water supply.

Stabling, garage, lodge, and 4 cottages.

Richly timbered old world gardens and grounds - 35 acres.

The well-known Manor Farm, Cosgrove with old Manor House, ample Farm Buildings, three cottages, and about 307 acres of good grass and easy working Arable land;

Also

The Little Manor, a newly erected Tudor style house with 3 reception, 5 bed and 2 bath rooms, and Paddock, extending to about 7 acres.

For Sale by Auction, as a whole or in three lots (unless previously disposed of) by

P C Gambell

and

John D Wood & Co

(Acting in conjunction)

At the Cock Hotel Stony Stratford on Friday, July 15, 1927 at 3.00 PM exact time

Solicitors: Messrs. Wrenstead, Hind & Roberts, Ormond House, 63 Queen Victoria Street, London, EC4

Auctioneers: Messrs. John D Wood & Co, 6 Mount Street, Grosvenor Square, London W1; Mr. P C Gambell, Newport Pagnell and Olney.


Wolverton Express 22nd July, 1927

The Property Market

Cosgrove Hall property withdrawn

At the Cock Hotel, Stony Stratford, on Friday afternoon, Mr. P C Gambell auctioneer, Newport Pagnell and Olney, in conjunction with Messrs. John D Wood & Co London, offered at auction valuable residential and farm property, Cosgrove Hall, by direction of Mrs. B Agar, who is leaving the district. There was a good attendance. The whole of the property, about 358 acres, was first offered in one lot, and starting at £7000 bidding rose to £12,000, when the auctioneer announced that it was withdrawn at £16,000.

In the first lot was Cosgrove Hall, a Georgian residence, with a suite of three reception rooms and 14 bed and dressing rooms and fitted with electric light and all modern conveniences together with stabling, garage, and lodge, and four cottages, gardens and grounds, extending over 35 acres. No offer was made and the lot was withdrawn.

Manor Farm. 307a 0r 18p, was the next lot. It comprised Old Manor House, farm buildings, three cottages, etc., Bidding was started at £5000 and at £8000 the lot was withdrawn.

The third lot, the Little Manor, 7a. 0r. 3p, comprised a newly erected residence of old stone, with gardens. Bidding began at £1000 and after three bids of £100 this lot was also withdrawn.

Mr. Roberts, of Messrs. Wrenstead, Hind and Roberts, London, represented the solicitors for the vendors.


Wolverton Express 2nd November, 1928

Cosgrove Hall sold

In the latest list of residences disposed of privately by Messrs. Hampton &Sons St. James’s Square are included several houses of distinctive character.  One of for instance, is Cosgrove Hall, Stony Stratford, which has been sold for Mrs Agar.  This is one of the best-known houses in the Grafton country and is one of the Georgian period of architecture.  Messrs. Duncan B Gray and Partners (Mount Street), acted for the purchaser.  The surrounding estate of some 1000 acres was broken up in 1919, it may be recalled, by the St. James’s Square agents, for Major Grant-Thorold.


The staff at Cosgrove Hall, c.1934. Their employers were Mr and Mrs G.H. Winterbottom.

Back row, left to right: Bill Pebody (chauffeur), Alf Whitaker (gardener), Evelyn Payne (chambermaid),
Elsie ?, later Mrs Horace Parkinson, (cook) Ernest C. Lambert (head gardener), Jim Lambert (garden boy).

Front row: Ivy Hopcroft (parlourmaid, George Hooton (general duties), Ellie ? (kitchenmaid),
George Hooton was seriously wounded in the throat by shrapnel during the First World War, and could only speak in a whisper.


Garden staff at Cosgrove Hall, c. 1934, standing by the wheel which pumped water up from the well in the cemetery.
It had two handles and needed one person each side to pump water into the tank on the left.

Left to right: Jim Lambert, garden boy Ernest Lambert, gardener, George Hooton, Alf Whittaker, gardener, Mr G.H. Winterbottom (owner), ?.


Hall Owners

Major. General. JOHN MANSEL
LIEUTt. COLl. OF THE 3RD. DGD. GDS.
Killed in the Act of charging the French Artillery
Buried on the Field of Battle. 26TH. APRIL. 1794.

Mansel's coat and diary were sent home to Cosgrove Hall to his family, who displayed them in a glass case in the entrance hall. Eventually they were given to Peterborough Museum, by whose kind permission this photograph is shown.


"The site on which the Hall now stands descended from Edward Furtho via his daughter Nightingale to her Mansell children, despite her second marriage into the Longueville family. Baker supposes that it was Nightingale's grandson Henry Longueville who actually built the Hall in its present form, but cites no evidence. The manorship of Cosgrove became attached to the Hall on the marriage of Mary Anne Biggin, daughter of John Biggin of the Manor/Priory estate, to John Mansel in 1768. On the death of George Biggin, Mary Anne's brother, in 1803, the Mansel family thus inherited the Hall, the Manor/Priory estate, the Rectory and the manor of Cosgrove.

In 1881 J. C. Mansel sold Cosgrove Hall and the lordship to Alexander William Thorold Grant-Thorold, the son of Alexander Grant and his wife Helen Thorold, Frances's sister. (fn. 2) Mansel, who died in 1895, moved to a smaller house on the estate, which became known as Cosgrove Cottage (later the Old Dower House). (fn. 3) In 1886 Grant-Thorold sold sold Cosgrove Priory, with some land, to John Jepson Atkinson, (fn. 4) and in 1891 conveyed the Hall to his second son Harry Grant-Thorold, (fn. 5) who in 1919 broke up the estate by auction, when the lordship was offered with the Hall and grounds. (fn. 6)

In the early 1920s Cosgrove Hall was the residence of Alexander Agar Ferguson; by 1925 it was the home of Mrs. Bernice Ellen Agar, who was the owner until 1928, (fn. 7) when it was purchased by George Harold Winterbottom, the son of a Manchester cloth manufacturer of the same name who in 1899 had acquired Horton House, where he lived until his death in 1934. (fn. 8) The younger Winterbottom lived at Cosgrove until 1948, when the Hall became the home of Major J. B. Fermor-Hesketh, the younger brother of the 2nd Lord Hesketh. (fn. 9) It was later bought by Charles Mackenzie Hill, a building contractor, who also made the house the headquarters of his business.

Ref: Date Occupant
Census 1841 Maria Mansel
Kelly's Directory 1847 Hon. Charles Ponsonby
Whellan 1849 John C Mansell Esq
Census 1851 John C. Mansel
Kelly’s Directory 1854 John Christopher Mansel , esq. J.P. [capt. in Northampton militia,]
Census 1861 John Christopher Mansel
Census 1871 John Christopher Mansel
Whellan & Co 1874 Jno. Christopr. Mansel Esq. J.P.
Census 1881 John Christopher Mansel
Kelly's Directory 1890-1894 Hon. Mrs Isted (also in 1894 Col. Frederick Murray the son of the Hon Mrs. Isted by her first marriage)
Census 1891 Frances Eliz. Isted
Kelly's Directory 1894 - 1906 Alexander William Grant-Thorold, J.P.
Census 1901 A. Grant - Thorold
Kelly's Directory 1906 Alexander William Thorold Grant-Thorold D.L., J.P.
Kelly's Directory 1910 Arthur Edgcumbe Baker
Census 1911 Lizzie Morley - Cook Housekeeper In Charge of House
Kelly's Directory 1914 Dowager Countess Temple
Kelly’s Directory 1920 Alexander A. Ferguson
Kelly’s Directory 1924 Alexander A. Ferguson
Kelly's Directory 1928 Mrs. R. Agar
Kelly’s Directory 1931 H. Winterbottom
Kelly's Directory 1936 Mrs. R. Agar
Kelly's Directory 1940 H. Winterbottom

(Kelly's Directory) Cosgrove Hall was the residence of Alexander Agar Ferguson; by 1925 it was the home of Mrs. Bernice Ellen Agar, who was the owner until 1928, when it was purchased by George Harold Winterbottom, the son of a Manchester cloth manufacturer of the same name who in 1899 had acquired Horton House, where he lived until his death in 1934. The younger Winterbottom lived at Cosgrove until 1948, when the Hall became the home of Major J. B. Fermor-Hesketh, the younger brother of the 2nd Lord Hesketh. It was later bought by Charles Mackenzie Hill, a building contractor, who also made the house the headquarters of his business. Riden


On 7th October 2016 Cosgrove Hall was gutted by a fire, believed to have been started by an electrical fault. Fortunately nobody was hurt, but despite the efforts of six Fire Crews from Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire services, who pumped water from the adjacent canal, the house was reduced to a skeleton with only chimney stacks and ground floor masonry remaining.