‘The Hall’ in Bradford on Avon is an outstanding example of English Renaissance architecture in which an extent of symmetry and fenestration (windows) are blended with the Gothic pinnacles and small size panelling of the previous period. It is built of freestone from the quarry on the Estate. The Hall was previously known as ‘Kingston House’ (not to be confused with the KIngston House on Kingston Road), ‘The Great House’, and ‘The Duke’s House’
Bradford was a notable wool manufacturing centre in the 14th - 18th Centuries. The Hall was built around 1600 for John Hall, a prominent clothier owning the woollen mills opposite – later to be the Moulton Rubber Works. The Hall family are known to have been active in the town’s weaving industry as early as 1170. After his death in 1631, the mansion passed his son Thomas and in 1663 to Thomas’ son John. After this the estates passed to Rachel Baynton of Little Chalfield, Wiltshire. She married William Pierrepont (Earl Manvers), the son and heir of Evelyn Pierrepont, later the first Duke of Kingston; subsequently The Hall was renamed Kingston House.
Four years after Rachel's death in 1722, her son Evelyn succeeded his grandfather as the second Duke of Kingston. In 1769 the second Duke married Elizabeth Chudleigh (the notorious Duchess of Kingston) and after his death in 1773, she inherited the estate. She did not spend much time at Kingston House and during the last years of the C18 it was in use as a farmhouse. In 1805, Kingston House (The Hall) was bought by Thomas Divett who worked in the City of London. He replaced the old grist mill that stood to the south-west of Kingston House with a cloth mill. Kingston House itself was used as a warehouse to store the wool (it is thought that the lanolin in the wool has helped to preserve the interior wooden panelling).
In the early 19th Century, largely due to a downturn in the demand for cloth and the disastrous failure of a local bank, Kingston House fell into disrepair and decay. It was bought, together with the mill property, by Stephen Moulton in 1848. Moulton spent two years carefully restoring the fabric to its original state – this work included replacing the south front almost in its entirety. The staircase was renewed – the current staircase is believed to come from a school in Lincolnshire – and sanitation installed in the house. This necessitated the relocation of the servants staircase to the outside of the building.
At the same time Stephen Moulton founded his rubber manufacturing company in the old wool mills opposite The Hall – Moulton was a friend of Charles Goodyear (who discovered the rubber vulcanisation process) and the first man to bring vulcanised rubber to Europe. The Moulton Rubber Company supplied, amongst many other items, vulcanised springs, buffers, hoses etc. to railway companies and shipbuilders worldwide. The company merged with Geo. Spencer and Co. to form Spencer, Moulton & Co. Ltd. in 1891.
English Heritage has listed The Hall as Grade I (‘exceptional interest, sometimes considered to be internationally important’). The balustraded terrace and retaining walls to the south of The Hall are listed Grade II*. In addition, the ashlar gate piers (each topped with a carved stone eagle), the wrought iron gates, the 18th century octagonal Dovecote and the two summer houses (‘Temples’) are listed Grade II. The area of the immediate grounds (bounded by stone walls on the North, West and South sides, and a wrought iron fence on the East side, is Grade II listed as a Park and Garden.
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