Ayscoughfee Hall Museum and Gardens
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
The historic core of the building is a central hall, flanked by two wings and a tower. The Hall is generally attributed to Richard Aldwyn, or Alwyn. Richard's son, Nicholas, rose to become Lord Mayor of London in 1499, and there is an intriguing mention in his will of 'my grete place in Spalding'.
Sometime before 1530 ownership passed to the Ayscough family, who came from Stallingborough, near Grimsby. The name of the Hall appears to be a combination of the family name and the word 'fee', a medieval term for land owned by a knight. This suggests that perhaps the family did not actually own the house, just the land on which it stood. Whatever the origin of the name, the Ayscoughfee family did not maintain their connection with the Hall for long, and by 1556 they no longer owned either the house or the land. The Hall passed through a number of owners, and was slowly extended with the addition of a north wing, south wing, and service wing.
In 1793 the fourth successive Maurice Johnson took possession of Ayscoughfee. This was Reverend Johnson, a clergyman, who was responsible for many of the most visible changes to the medieval building. Johnson must have considered the medieval decoration outmoded, for he renovated the interiors on elegant Georgian lines, with a plaster ceiling and grand, balconied entrance hall. The front elevation gained new Gothick windows and the front entrance was moved to a central position in keeping with Georgian ideals of symmetry.
Further changes to the Hall took place in the Victorian period when a front porch joined the north and south wings, and the stair turret gained a battlemented facade.
In 2003 the Hall was closed for a massive refurbishment project which took almost 8 years to complete and cost in the region of £1 million. One of the benefits of the restoration project was that extensive study of the Hall's medieval architecture was carried out, and in the process it was found to be one of the best examples of medieval timber-framing in the country. In 2012 the Hall was awarded Grade I listed status, recognising its national importance. One of the recent discoveries was a brick cross-vaulted staircase. Only five steps of the stair remain, but the ceiling is a wonderful example of 15th century brickwork.
The interior of this wonderful historic building is occupied by the South Holland Museum. The museum focus on social history of the region, and includes collections of historic photographs, books, clothing, farming equipment and historical documents. One of the prize exhibits is the Johnson Cup, made in 1712 of silver but gilded with gold. This two-handled cup was made for Theophilus Fairfax Johnson (1790 - 1853), third son of Reverend Maurice Johnson, and is covered with ornate coats of arms of local families connected to the Johnsons. In addition to the permanent exhibits on local history of South Holland there is a special Geest Gallery housing changing exhibits by local artists. There sare dress-up clothes for children and plenty of opportunities to handle replica historical objects.
The Hall is set in historic gardens with roots at least as early as 1720. Among the garden features is a Yew Tree Walk, laid out in the 1720s, an ornamental lake the Lutyens war memorial mentioned above, and an historic ice house. A more modern addition to the historic gardens is a Peace Garden, and there is an Herb Garden featuring plants which would have been grown for the inhabitants of the Hall.
Though the focus for most visitors to Ayscoughfee is the museum of local life, in truth of equal or superior importance is the Hall itself, which must rank among the best surviving examples of a medieval timber-framed merchant's house in England.
About Ayscoughfee Hall
Address: Churchgate, Spalding, Lincolnshire, England, PE11 2RA
Attraction Type: Historic Building
Website: Ayscoughfee Hall
Phone: 01775 764555
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Gordon Boswell Romany Museum - 0.8 miles (Museum)
Croyland Abbey - 7.5 miles (Abbey)
Sempringham Church and Holy Well - 11 miles (Historic Church)
Thorney Abbey - 11.5 miles (Historic Church)
Parson Drove, St John's Church - 12 miles (Historic Church)
Grimsthorpe Castle - 12.5 miles (Historic House)
Leverington, St Leonard's Church - 13.9 miles (Historic Church)
Boston Guildhall Museum - 14.2 miles (Museum)
Nearest Accommodation to Ayscoughfee Hall: