Grafton Regis

Grafton manor was acquired by Henry VIII in 1526 from Thomas, Second Marquis of Dorset. It was a house set on rising ground in the excellent hunting country of Northamptonshire. It is not clear how much was added to the existing house beyond ancillary structures; but it was large enough, and modern enough, for the king to be a regular visitor in the 1530s.

Queen Elizabeth I included the house on her progress itineraries at least three times and, in 1573-5, a new building was erected for the queen there. Improvements were made to service buildings and the gardens at the same time. These were done at the encouragement of the Earl of Leicester who seemingly oversaw the improvements. The Queen was impressed with the new buildings and said so.

Henry VIII had created an Honour a Grafton, an archaic legal device to denote a place’s central position in a large landholding. Under James I the Honour, and the house, were put in the care of the Duke of Lennox, who received the king there on a number of occasions. The king then settled the Honour on Prince Charles who had no interest in the house, but enjoyed rents from its lands. When king he mortgaged the property and in 1643 it was torched by Parliamentarian troops.

Today part of the service range survives beside the village street. However, penetrating further onto private land, a large stone façade can be seen and this may be the building erected by Elizabeth in the 1670s and thus a very rare and unusual survival.