Kelham Hall was originally the home of the Manners-Sutton family (a family connected to the Dukes of Rutland, the Marquess of Granby and Viscount Canterbury) of Averham. It is a Grade I, II* and II listed building standing in 52 acres of parkland.
The Kelham estate was first acquired by William Sutton from the Foljambe family. On 5 May 1647 King Charles I surrendered at the end of the English Civil War at nearby Southwell and was held at Kelham Hall for several days afterwards. The Hall was upgraded by William’s son Robert Sutton, 1st Baron Lexinton, after the Civil War. The first house was destroyed by fire in the reign of William and Mary.
Its replacement was built c.1730 by John Sanderson for Bridget, the Duchess of Rutland, the only surviving child of the second Lord Lexington. She had married John Manners, 3rd Duke of Rutland and their descendants would be known by the name of Manners-Sutton. This building was also destroyed by fire on 27 November 1857, during the Victorian era when the owner was in Italy, and would again be rebuilt.
The third and present Kelham Hall is considered a masterpiece of high Victorian Gothic architecture. Entirely asymmetrical, with a gloriously irregular skyline and crowning ‘grandiloquent’ towers. It was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and completed in 1863. Not long after the fire, a new Kelham Hall of magnificent proportions and of an architectural beauty far superior to that possessed by its predecessors at Kelham or Averham was erected in the Italian style and is justly said to be one of Scott’s most successful works. In 1865 Gilbert Scott reused many of the design details of Kelham Hall on a much larger scale for the façade of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London, completed in 1876.
The Manners-Sutton family then ran into financial difficulties and the Hall was sold to the Society of the Sacred Mission in 1903 and run as a theological college. It was occupied by military forces during World War I. The Great Chapel was dedicated in 1928 and was a masterpiece. It was almost square with a great central dome, (62 feet across and 68 feet (21 m) high) the second largest concrete dome in England. Some visitors have likened it to The Blue Mosque in Istanbul. A bronze sculpture, known as the Kelham Rood, depicting Christ on the Cross accompanied by figures of St John and the Virgin Mary was commissioned from the English sculptor Charles Sargeant Jagger to adorn the chapel in 1927 and was completed in 1929. The main accommodation building at the front of the Hall was completed in 1939 to house the Monks and the theological students but its first occupants were a garrison of the ‘Blues’ cavalry and also Texas and Oklahoma oil men who were involved in drilling for oil at the nearby Eakring oilfield. The Hall was again being occupied by military personnel during World War II.
The theological college closed in 1972 due to declining numbers and also the Church of England policy to reduce the High Church influence. The chapel was desanctified.
John Manners Sutton