Padley Hall: a medieval great house


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017587

Date first listed: 29-Jan-1998


Ordnance survey map of Padley Hall: a medieval great house
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Derbyshire

District: Derbyshire Dales (District Authority)

Parish: Grindleford

National Park: PEAK DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: SK 24713 78996


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Medieval great houses were the residences of high-status non-Royal households. They had domestic rather than military functions and show little or no sign of fortification, even of a purely cosmetic nature. Great houses share several of the characteristics of royal palaces, and in particular shared similar characteristics of size, sophistication, and decoration of the architecture. Great houses usually consist of a group of buildings, including a great hall, service rooms, one or more kitchens, several suites of chambers for the owners, the household and its guests, and a gatehouse. Other ancillary buildings are known to have been present but very rarely survive. Earlier examples typically comprised a collection of separate buildings, but through the 14th and 15th century there was increasing integration of the buildings into a few larger buildings. By the later medieval period, such complexes were commonly laid out around one or more formal courtyards; in the 16th century this would occasionally be contrived so that the elevations were symmetrical. Many great houses are still notable for the high quality of their architecture and for the opulence of their furnishings. Several examples contain substantially intact buildings, others consist of ruins or complexes of earthworks. Great houses are found throughout England, although there is a concentration in the south and Midlands. Further north, great houses were more heavily fortified, reflecting more unsettled political and social conditions, but their domestic purpose and status were still predominant. Fewer than 250 examples of great houses have been identified. As a rare monument class which provide an important insight into the lives of medieval aristocratic or gentry households, all examples will be nationally important.

The remains of Padley Hall are important because the buildings were not significantly modified after the 14th century and retain evidence of an earlier structure. They offer considerable potential for understanding the development of a medieval manorial centre and its architecture. Additionally, the well preserved terraces will retain information on the gardens surrounding the medieval house.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the standing and buried remains of Padley Hall and an area of associated cultivation terraces to the immediate north of the hall, and stands at the foot of steeply sloping ground overlooking the River Derwent just over 1km north of Grindleford. The former gatehouse to the hall is used as a Roman Catholic Chapel and is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included. The ruins of the hall, although in many areas little more than foundations, are preserved in good condition. Some of the surviving walls stand up to 1.3m high. There is clear evidence of a range of buildings covering an area of about 0.15ha arranged around the four sides of a small central courtyard. The buildings include the former gatehouse located on the south western side of the courtyard. The visible ranges of the hall date chiefly from the 14th century, although clearance of the area in the 1930s revealed that the last hall had been built on an earlier structure. The date of this earlier phase is unknown. After the demise of the hall in around 1650, masonry was robbed from the buildings to construct a farm and outbuildings close to the site. Some of the farm buildings, now used for other purposes, still survive to the south of the hall outside the area of protection. The former gatehouse is two stories high with a wooden interfloor and is a good example of a medieval building. The scheduling includes an area immediately west of this building where further remains of the hall are located. These are partially covered by turf and hillwash and their full extent remains unknown. Surviving remains extending to the track which cuts through this area are also included in the scheduling. There is evidence that the hall had a domestic chapel as an altar stone was found in the ruins of the north eastern part of the hall in 1933. The area of this discovery is now marked by an inscribed stone kerb. The last phase of the hall is likely to have been built for the Padley family after which it passed to the Eyres, another local aristocratic family. During the early 16th century the hall passed, through marriage, to Thomas Fitzherbert who died in the Tower of London in 1591, having been imprisoned for being a recusant. During his occupancy of the hall, financial constraints on Fitzherbert meant that no further building occurred. The hall is associated with two Catholic martyrs, Nicholas Garlick and Robert Ludlam, both priests seized at Padley in 1588 and executed in Derby. The hall once consisted of a great hall, a kitchen to the west of the range with a solar above, accessed by a spiral stairway, the foundations of which, measuring 1.5m in diameter are still visible. The remains of a large fireplace, about 3m wide and standing 1.5m high, is located in the kitchen area. There was also a parlour and other rooms, including the domestic chapel to the east. This range of rooms is less clearly understood at present, although the foundations of three rooms are clearly defined. The main entrance to the buildings was in the north west corner of the courtyard, the latter paved with coarse stone slabs. To the rear of the buildings is an area thought to be a small yard, similarly paved with stone slabs. To the west of the ruins is a small triangular piece of enclosed ground containing six stone pillars of unknown date, each about 0.7m high, and small areas of mainly turf-covered foundations: some of the masonry in this area appears to be of similar type to that of the hall ruins. During the 1950s a small canopy was erected within the hall ruins. It is used for outdoor functions connected with the present chapel. The canopy comprises a tiled roof on a timber frame supported by a retaining wall to the east and two stone piers to the west. A low wall surrounds most of the area covered by the canopy, containing reused masonry from the hall. Similary, a stone bench on the east side of the canopied areas contains various ornate carved fragments from the hall. To the immediate north east of the ruins are two revetment walls of uncertain date, although their foundations are probably contemporary with the hall. These walls retain the sloping ground above. Between the hall and the revetment walls is a small enclosed area which may have been a private garden or yard area. . To the north east of the revetment walls is a small paddock containing several platforms cut into the hillslope which are likely to be the remains of cultivation terraces associated with the hall. The terraces survive on good condition and one appears deeper than the rest, indicating that it may have been a small quarry, possibly providing some of the stone for the hall itself. Padley Chapel (the former gatehouse), all modern stone walls, gates and fences, the modern canopy and related features, including seating are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 29799

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hart, CR, North Derbyshire Archaeological Survey to AD 1500, (1981), 154
Smith, B, Padley Chapel near Grindleford, Derbyshire., (1990)
Hadfield, C M, 'Trans. of the Hunter Archaeological Society' in Notes on the Architectural History of Padley Hall, Derbys., , Vol. Vol 4:1, (1933), 262-267

End of official listing