DCS Local Heritage Event: Tour of Madingley Hall

Saturday 19th October 2013 Return to Alumni Events


Cathy Willis Introduces Madingley Hall

Madingley Hall is a building almost everyone knows of but few have been inside or know it's full and eventful history so it was with some excitement that the D.C.S. party gathered outside the building to meet our guide Cathy Willis just as it started to rain. She started her tour by explaining the external features of the Hall including the relevant history whilst we listened from under umbrellas until the time came to go in.

The Shire Manor of Madingley was granted to John Hynde in 1543 by an Act of Parliament, and he began building Madingley Hall in the same year mainly as a hunting lodge but his son, Sir Francis Hynde, made it the family home from 1550, and added the north wing in 1591. The Hyndes owned Madingley until 1647 when Jane, the sole heiress, married Sir John Cotton, baronet, of Landwade and they made Madingley their family seat.

Sir John died in 1689 and Jane in 1692, to be succeeded by their son Sir John Hynde who resided at Madingley until his death in 1713. His son took the name of Sir John Hynde Cotton and inherited Madingley Hall in 1712: during the 40 years that he owned the Hall he transformed it from a panelled Tudor house into a Baroque building and the changes continued with his son, also John Hynde Cotton, who commissioned Lancelot Brown (Capability Brown) to modernise the landscape.

The estate remained with the family until 1858, when Sir St Vincent Cotton, burdened with gambling debts, transferred his Madingley lands to his two sisters Maria and Philadelphia. They divided the estate in 1859. Maria, who was married to Sir Richard King, obtained the portion which included the Hall with its park and associated farmland in Madingley and in 1861 she rented the Hall to Queen Victoria for the Prince of Wales whilst he was at Cambridge University. However, his stay was brief due to Prince Albert's unexpected death.

In 1871 the Hall was sold out of the family to a Mr Hurrell, and subsequently to Colonel Walter Harding in 1905 who completely renovated the Hall using designs of John Alfred Gotch before his heirs sold it along with the surrounding park and farmland, to the University of Cambridge in 1948.

Whilst we were outside we looked at the Gothic gateway which originally led to the stables. It was taken by Sir John Hyde Cotton from the east gateway of the Old Schools building in Cambridge, begun in 1470, when that building was demolished to allow for the rebuilding of the library in 1754. When Sir John installed it at Madingley, he added Gothic pinnacles and a gable, the family's arms, and the date 1758, carved on the back.

Gothic Gate

The Gothic Gate


Old Painted Hunting Scenes


A Room ...


... and Another

Our guide Cathy was both informative and entertaining and clearly an enthusiast. She showed us the room prepared for the Prince of Wales and included his poor university report, his love of good living and women. We climbed the steps within the turret at the south end to see the residual crude paintings of hunting and hawking scenes in a third-floor room which would have been at the south end of the main range perhaps dating from the time of Sir Edward Hynde, who had many horses and kept his own bulls to bait. She explained which part of the rooms were original and which had been altered and explained how Colonel Harding in particular recycled panels and ceilings from other places.

Prince of wales Room

Room for the Prince of Wales


Tea, Coffee and Cakes


View of the Gardens from the Hall

Finally we were treated to hot drinks and cakes where we could sit discuss and generally digest all the information having thanked Cathy profusely before she had to rush off. Then there was time to look around the gardens where much of Capability Brown's design still remains.

We must gratefully acknowledge the efforts of the staff of Madingley Hall and very especially Cathy Willis.

Pictures by Helen Moore above (Click on the picture for larger a versions)

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