With over 300 years of history, Eynsham Hall is one of Oxfordshire’s great country houses.
Standing proud amid over 3,000 acres of rolling parkland, the Hall is a shining reminder of a time gone by, and provides a perfect retreat into elegance and luxury just a few miles from the centre of Oxford.
The Hall has a fascinating history starting in the early 1700’s when Willoughby Lacey, a wealthy local landowner, decided to enclose a huge section of his land in order to create the ultimate space in which to entertain guests, and pursue the popular outdoor sports of the day. In one of the most spectacular displays of ‘keeping up with the neighbours’ seen at the time, Lacey created the original Eynsham Hall and the surrounding grounds. The original house displayed the typical Georgian features so popular at the time, with Greek-style columns and elegant interiors.
In 1778, Lacey sold the estate to Robert Langford, a London auctioneer and newspaper proprietor who enjoyed the Hall until he died in 1785, at which point it was passed to James Duberley. Duberley lived in the Hall with his five daughters until 1799, when the Reverend John Robinson moved in. The Reverend Robinson only remained in residence for six years until 1805, when he sold the estate to Sir Thomas Parker, whose father, the 4th Earl of Macclesfield, bought Eynsham Hall to serve as a Dower house for Shirburn Castle.
When Sir Thomas’ mother died the estate was sold to Sir Thomas Bazeley MP, who was well known in Lancashire as a high profile cotton manufacturer. Bazeley was not one of the most popular owners of Eynsham Hall, due to a decision he made about the holly trees in the Hall’s grounds. He was known for his hatred of holly, and when he took over the estate, he decreed that all the holly trees in the grounds should be cut down and burnt. According to English folklore it is very ‘unlucky to lay steel to them’ so the local country people were not pleased with this decision!
After the holly debacle, the local people were no doubt pleased when in 1866 Eynsham Hall came to the hands of the present freeholder’s grandfather, James Mason, a mining engineer who made his fortune mining copper in Portugal. Mason oversaw the addition of two further floors, one in 1843 and one in 1872.
The Hall remained in the Mason family, passing to James Francis Mason and his wife Lady Francis after the death of James Mason in 1903. In 1904, they oversaw the demolition of the entire original Georgian house, and the construction of the Jacobean mansion that we see today, which was completed in 1908.
The new build-hall boasted many of the amenities of the day such as its own water works, gas plant, electricity station and private telephone links to all parts of the estate. In fact even today we have done our best to uphold the traditions of keeping as much on site as possible - all of the bottled water served at Eynsham Hall is actually filtered on site in a bid to keep carbon emissions to a minimum.
Despite the interior of the house being preserved as largely as possible, the uses for this once family home have changed wildly over the years. Between 1908 and 1914 the Hall was a family home, but the outbreak of World War One forced the Hall to become part of the war effort, and it was turned into a venue for convalescing soldiers to return to for treatment.
After the war ended, the Hall spent time as a maternity hospital, and both the Air Ministry and Barclays Bank also used the venue for some time.
It was in 1946 that the Hall took on possibly it’s most famous guise. For 35 years it was to become a District Police Training Academy, and was the venue from which the country’s police force would spend 12 weeks learning their basic skills. Thousands of Police Constable Recruits passed through Eynsham Hall’s doors, and many still return today to reminisce about their first taste of police life here at Eynsham Hall.
In 1981 the Hall became a conference and training centre, and such was the popularity that within a few years it was necessary to build the Court and Lodge accommodation blocks in order to fulfill the requirements of the business.
In 2005 Eynsham Hall was acquired by the Cathedral Group, who has put in place a major investment program for the refurbishment and further development of the Hall and grounds.