Built over 150 years ago as the last of a long line of noble houses stretching back to Roman times, the magnificent Victorian mansion, near Grantham, is regarded as one of the East Midlands’ premier conference and meetings venues.
But as well as country house hotel comfort, flexible meeting areas, dedicated IT suite and spectacular breakout areas, Stoke Rochford Hall also offers delegates a chance to uncover some hidden history – from seeing where one of the boldest plans of World War Two was planned, to a ‘secret’ tunnel.
Bringing the Hall’s heritage to life is Stoke Rochford’s David Frampton, who swaps his day-to-day role as Compliance Manager to share his love of history on informal tours of the hall and grounds.
“We’re more than happy to arrange a special tour for anyone interested, whether they are here for a conference, a meeting or simply enjoying an overnight stay. The Hall has been providing inspiration for over a century and been a base for children plucked from London slums to hosting negotiations over ground-breaking industrial relations laws to the wartime home of the Parachute Regiment,” said David.
Today, its role as a leading conference and events venue continues a tradition started over 100 years ago by a pioneering Lincolnshire nobleman who transformed Stoke Rochford into much more than the country mansion of an old county family.
Christopher Hatton Turnor succeeded to Stoke Rochford - set in 28-acres of countryside beside a quintessential English stone village – in 1903 and he opened it up to “all types of men, women and children of good will”, providing a magnificent venue for all kinds of educational and social activities.
Among those who benefited from the unusual use of a grand house at that time were Lincolnshire teachers, working men, women and students and even children from the slums of Deptford.
Stoke Rochford’s grand rooms also provided inspirational meeting places for trade and industry meetings, including for the report of the Archbishop's Committee on Industrial Relations, which was largely drawn up and approved in the oak-panelled library, while the Commission of the Seafarers' Education Service held many weekend meetings in the house. Links with education were strengthened when the National Union of Teachers made Stoke Rochford its National Education and Training Centre in 1978.
The Victorian mansion also played a significant wartime role, including becoming the headquarters of the Second Battalion of the Parachute Regiment for 18 months during World War Two. It was here, on the Library floor, that plans were laid which led to the ill fated Arnhem 'drop' of 1944, which, if it had succeeded, could have shortened the war by six months.
Within the grounds lies another link to wartime, a crashed Lancaster bomber, which came down in April 1945. The crew, six from the Royal Canadian Air Force and one from the RAF, all lost their lives in the crash, and are commemorated with a plaque made of aluminium salvaged from the ‘plane.
As well as a long history, Stoke Rochford can also lay claim to being a ‘Phoenix rising from the ashes’.
Following a devastating fire that destroyed much of the main house in 2005, the Hall benefited from an extensive, three-year restoration. Costing over £12 million and overseen by English Heritage, the impressive Grade 1 listed building has now been restored to its former glory with new ‘Victorian’ craftsmanship enhancing the old.
And the ‘secret’ tunnel? It is a virtually intact brick tunnel, complete with iron railway-rails, which was used to transport coal into the house!
Catering for groups from 2 to 300, and able to hold up to 400 guests at any one time, Stoke Rochford Hall features oak panelled rooms with ornate ceilings, including the Grand Hall with its fine grey stone, carved chimney piece. It offers a venue for day and residential conferences, meetings, events and corporate away days.