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Children maypole dancing at Hodsock Priory in July 1909

A brief history

Historical artefacts from Hodsock PrioryHodsock has an interesting and colourful history. From humble beginnings the estate had thrived and suffered at the hands of its owners. It has been host to kings of England, been frittered away on a gamble and has recently been carefully rebuilt and restored to its former glory.

2000BC - 1765 

For over 2000 years, the people living at Hodsock have shaped the landscape here. Since the Bronze Age and throughout the Roman and Saxon eras farmers used the land to live off and evidence of this usage is still being found today in our garden excavations. In 1086 the estate was recorded in the Doomsday book and since then we have a detailed understanding of Hodsock and its role in local history. 
A story of four kings. From the mid-twelfth century the Cressey family owned Hodsock. Over 200 years they held sufficient positions of power and entertained Henry II, John and Edward I.  In the early fifteenth century the estate passed to the Clifton family, who owned Hodsock for fourteen generations until 1765. During this time, in 1541, Henry VIII visited. Hodsock was never the Clifton family home, and due to a heavy fine incurred for fighting on the side of the Royalists during the Civil War in the 1640s, the house declined to the status of a farmhouse. 

1765 - 1805

In 1765 Hodsock was sold for the first (and only time) to the Mellish family who owned the neighbouring estate at Blyth. Combining the two estates increased their landholding to 20,000 acres. William Mellish (d.1791) and his son, Charles, were both prominent in Nottinghamshire affairs. Charles was a keen local historian and was writing a history of Nottinghamshire but died in 1796 before it was completed. His eldest son, Joseph, had been disinherited for extravagance so the estate passed to his brother, Colonel Henry Francis Mellish. The Colonel loved horse racing and his horses won the St Leger in 1804 and 1805. His mother wrote to her friends asking for help to stop her son wasting his inheritance. However, the Colonel lost the Blyth estate to gambling and the estate passed to his sister, Anne Chambers. 

1805 – 1930 a tale of two women

Children maypole dancing at Hodsock Priory in July 1909

During this time, two women redeveloped and restored the Estate and it became known as Hodsock Priory.

In 1829, Anne Chambers, sister to Henry Francis Mellish, appointed the architect Ambrose Poynter to design and oversee the building of a south wing in the fashionable Gothic Revival style. Mrs Chambers and Poynter kept local suppliers busy, with brick makers struggling to keep up with demand during their summer schedule.

The second woman responsible for the style of today’s house was Mrs Margaret Mellish, the widow of William Leigh Mellish, who inherited Hodsock from Mrs Chambers. Mrs Mellish engaged the renowned architect George Devey in 1873 to alter and enlarge the house at a cost of £10,044. Devey specialised in designing country houses and aimed to make new buildings look as though they had existed for centuries.

Painting of Major Charles Tennant in military uniform

The first half of the twentieth century witnessed changing styles of gardening. The splendours of the Hodsock gardens were well known thanks to the Head Gardener, Mr Arthur Ford and his team of five. Mr Ford was more than a gardener. He wrote articles for gardening journals, recorded the weather every day on equipment he kept in the Gatehouse and is reputed to have been ‘head hunted’ by Kew Gardens. 

1930 - 2006

Unfortunately, during World War Two (1939-45), Ford’s fine gardens were turned over to vegetables and maintained by the Women’s Land Army who were billeted in the house. After 1945 many country houses were knocked down and estates sold, however, Hodsock survived, passed down to Descendants of the Mellish family. Although artefacts, furniture and valuables were sold to make ends meet, the house eventually passed to Sir Andrew Buchanan in 1966.

Sir Andrew moved to Hodsock Priory with his wife, Belinda where they raised four children. During this time, they have been proactive in local and regional affairs and in 1991 Sir Andrew was appointed Lord Lieutenant for Nottinghamshire. This means he is the Queen’s personal representative for the County.
Lady Buchanan runs the famous Gardens with a team of skilled helpers. Thousands of visitors see the Snowdrop winter garden display each year. 

2006 – Present

Since January 2006, George and Katharine Buchanan have taken over the management of Hodsock Priory from Sir Andrew and Lady Buchanan. George, Katharine and their four children live in the house, so you get a real family feel when visiting. They want to share the splendour of their home with guests and have spent many years working with the Estate Team to restore the Pavilion to create a perfect wedding venue. More recently the Courtyard development has seen the transformation of the Old Dairy into 10 luxury, five star B&B suites and the provision of a modern meeting room.