Who lived in Abington Hall?
The Hall was owned by the Earls of Oxford. At this time it did not look anything like it does today. It was a medieval manor house and it may have had a chapel. At this time, the Hall was one large room, around 15m long, open to the rafters with a stage at one end. It had stables, cowsheds, a garden, orchards and a large moat.
It is thought that Abington Hall was rebuilt around this time.
The Hall was owned by Lord Compton. He let the land for grazing sheep and kept 15 horses in the stables, possibly for racing. At this time we know that it was a building made from lath and plaster, built on the site of an older building.
The armoured figure in St. Mary's Church, Great Abington is Sir William Halton who died in 1639. He probably lived at the Hall around this time.
The Hall belonged to Mr John Bennet who also owned Babraham Hall. We know that he sowed sainfoin on 35 acres of the land. Sainfoin was a new crop from France which was grown for sheep, cattle and horses.
In 1690 Bennet installed engines to water the grounds. The building then contained 23 rooms with fireplaces. It might have been bigger than the Hall today.
When Bennet died, his wife let the farm at the Hall (164 acres) to a man called Henry Westley. In return he had to feed her pigeons and give her manure for her orchard and garden.
John Bennett became bankrupt. The Hall was purchased by Thomas Western, a wealthy London ironmonger, who was ironmonger to the King.
1711 (during the reign of George I)
The lath and plaster building was encased in brick by Maximillian Western, the son of Thomas Western. It had five bays. Western put up the stables and began to lay out an ornamental canal. There was lots of farming on the land around the Hall.
The moat was then used for flushing out the drains!
Here is a painting of how Abington Hall looked around 1750
The Hall was purchased by Mr Pearson, a Riga merchant (trading with Riga, Latvia, on the Baltic Sea coast)
The Hall was put up for sale. Here is the description from the Cambridge Chronicle.
'Abington Hall, with excellent stabling and extensive offices of every description, a good walled garden, pleasure grounds, grove and small paddock of rich pasture in the whole about 24 acres with river running through same, most elegantly situated in fine sporting country 12 miles from Newmarket, 8 miles from Cambridge and 48 miles from London. Fox hounds and harriers are kept in the neighbourhood... The whole is in excellent repair, a very comfortable sum of money having lately been laid out on the house, stabling and estate.'
Towards the end of this century, the house was incorporated in a three storey building. It had nine bays in red brick with stone dressings. It also had the porch, columns and veranda that we see today.
John Mortlock purchased the Hall. He founded Mortlock's Bank in Cambridge. These paintings show John Mortlock, his wife Elizabeth and their child.
The grounds were laid out by Humphrey Repton.
The Cambridgeshire Chronicle tells us a sad story from 1806.
The Hall was rented to John Pitt (the Earl of Chatham) who was the brother of William Pitt the younger (British Prime Minister, 1783 - 1801 and 1804 - 1806).
Abington School was set up and was supported by many of the wealthy tenants from the Hall. This support collapsed when the Hall became vacant in 1820.
A school for 30 girls was reopened. It was supported by a new tenant of the Hall.
At this time there were 14 people who worked at Abington Hall or Abington Lodge as gardeners or gamekeepers.
A man called Edgar Barker lived at the Hall. Around the building was a park full of trees.
Percy Bernard Hall lived at the Hall.
These pictures show you what the Hall looked like in 1901.
A man called James Emerson lived at the Hall which was still surrounded by a beautiful park full of trees. James Emerson owned most of the land in Abington and he was responsible for the building of the Abington Institute.
By 1929 the farm around the Hall was 229 acres. At this time the house was bought by Julius Bertram in a sale at the Lion Hotel in Cambridge.
We know that he was not living in the Hall in 1935.
The British Military Forces took over the Hall and the estate for accommodation.
The Hall was sold to the British Welding Research Association (BWRA) We know that 40 people worked at the Hall, and by 1958 this had risen to 125.
The BWRA and the Institute of Welding joined to form The Welding Institute, now TWI Ltd.