Hambleton Hall History

Hambleton Hall History

Hambleton Hall was built in 1881 as a hunting box by Walter Marshall.

Marshall’s fortune was derived from a brewery business of the same name, but he came to Rutland to enjoy the fox hunting.

It is hard to imagine today that in Walter Marshall’s time Rutland and Leicestershire had something of the atmosphere of a resort area. Melton Mowbray, the Mecca of fox hunting, meant the same to enthusiasts as St. Moritz might to skiers or St. Tropez to beach-lovers in modern times. Hambleton Hall provided an ideal base for hunting with the Cottesmore, Quorn, Belvoir or Fernie hounds and participation in the intensive social activities centred on Melton, Market Harborough and outlying estates and houses.

Some time ago I had the good fortune to receive, on loan, Walter Marshall’s scrap book. This document consists of a compilation of clippings mostly of a scandalous or scurrilous kind reflecting his interest in gossip, scandalous divorces, demi-mondaine girls (some revealing their arms and ankles) and spicy tales from the ‘pink-un’.

Marshall remained a bachelor and when he died seems best remembered locally for the excellence of his table and cellar, and the convivial if slightly ‘racey’ company he kept.

He left his house to his younger sister Eva Astley Paston Cooper. Although Eva started life as a keen devotee of the chase, from the age of 50 onwards she presided over a salon of bright young things including Noel Coward, Malcolm Sargent and Charles Scott Moncrieff.

In his autobiography ‘Present Indicative’ Noel Coward describes Mrs. Astley-Cooper in the following terms: ‘Mrs Cooper was gay company. Her principle pleasure was to lie flat on her back upon a mattress in front of the fire and shoot off witticisms in a sort of petulant wail.’

Mrs Astley Patson Cooper’s grand-daughter has suggested that Noel Coward’s rather uncharitable remarks about his benefactor were somewhat influenced by the fact that the young Noel was made to spend most of his waking hours here chopping down trees for the good of his health!

After Mrs Cooper’s death Lord Trent, Dr. Brockbank and Major and Mrs. Hoare enjoyed the house in their turn until the 1970’s brought two big surprises. The creation of Rutland Water in 1976 (to provide water for the inhabitants of Peterborough and Northampton) transformed the outside environment. We transformed the inside in 1979/80.

The house has come full circle. As a small hotel and restaurant for discriminating diners and travellers the house has returned to a very similar convivial use to that for which it was built.