Gainsborough is situated on the river Trent in West Lindsey in north west Lincolnshire. Gainsborough Old Hall, built by Sir Thomas Burgh ca. 1460 -1480, is one of England's best-preserved late medieval manor houses. The extensively refurbished interior was re-opened ro the public in April 2012.

The combination of half-timbered construction with some walls of brick indicates what Scooby Manor may have once looked like.

The cupola louvre on the roof at the far right of the picture is in fact the smoke hole of the great kitchen.

The stone bay window is thought to have moved here from a nearby abbey after King Henry VIII suppressed England's monasteries in 1538 -1541.

Gainsborough Old Hall is guarded by an alert and fierce lion that calls to mind C.S. Lewis's Narnia books.

The front entrance of Gainsborough Old Hall is a courtyard with a small formal garden like those of Pilgrim times.

The brick wing was a new addition when King Henry VIII visited Gainsborough and stayed in the Hall in 1541.

The Great Hall seems ready for a banquet. In the early 17th century, Sir William Hickman lived in the manor. He supported the Separatists from Gainsborough and allowed them to meet in his house. John Smyth, who led the dissenters into exile in Amsterdam in 1607 -1608, probably preached to them in this hall. Some of his followers returned to England as early Baptists. Later members of the Hickman family supported Methodist preaching here.

Recently a controversial article was published which questioned the extent that Sir William Hickman supported the Separatists. The eminent historian, Dr. Jeremy Bangs, has provided a response to this article.


Just off the great hall is the lovely bay window alcove with its carved lion. The vaulting pendant is a detail that helps date this work at ca. 1500.

The kitchen at Gainsborough Old Hall rings and crackles with the sounds of cutlery and great fires, as the smells of banquets in preparation fill the air - at least in the imagination.

Smoke escapes from the louvres of the cupola high up in the peak of the timber-framed roof. A similar smoke hole must have been a feature of the great hall, too, where a hearth in the centre of the floor had no chimney.


Several rooms are furnished with (replica) medieval furniture that visiting children can use and explore. Some of the chests hold clothing to try on.

Gainsborough Old Hall has an extensive collection of 16th and 17th century furniture that rivals any. Visitors familiar with the furniture of Plimoth Colony will recognise some of the types that the colonists reproduced in their attempts to establish a new England in New England.

Through the leaded panes of an upper hallway window we look down at the herb garden.

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© Pilgrim Fathers UK Origins Association - Photographs courtesy of Dr. Jeremy Bangs copyright reserved