Now a highly specialised neurobehavioural rehabilitation centre for people with brain injuries (click here for more information) the Manor house and it's predecessors have seen a lot of history and some very famous residents....
There has been a significant building on or near the site of the present Manor house since the early 11th century, but it's most famous for housing one of Henry VIII's most favourite palaces. Henry acquired the Manor House and surrounding estates in 1527 and he would come here most summers of his reign for the excellent deer hunting in the surrounding forests, often bringing his queens. In the Village Hall there is a wall painting of Henry with Anne Boleyn meeting Cardinals Wolsey and Campeggio here in September 1529, which ultimately led to the split from Rome and the creation of the Church of England.
Last meeting of Henry VIII and Cardinals Wolsey and Campeggio at Henry's Palace at Grafton Regis
Henry's palace at Grafton Regis (the epithet 'Regis' was bestowed on Grafton by Henry to show his fondness of the place) was once thought to rival the size and grandeur of Hampton Court, such was its importance. However the house before and after Henry's residence has had a significant history, including being the home of the Woodville family at the time that Elizabeth Woodville married King Edward IV of England in secret in 1464.
Many other Monarchs and leading figures have visited the Palace and House at Grafton Regis. Elizabeth 1 visited in 1564 and 1568 with a large household of servants and a baggage train of 200 - 300 carts. She visited again in 1575 where she held a series of Council meetings there. Tenants during Elizabeth 1's reign included William Cecil, Lord Burghley; Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester; and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. James 1, King of England between 1603 - 1625 stayed at the Manor in 1608, 1610, 1612, 1614 and 1616 where he continued Henry VIII's passion for hunting deer.
Sir Francis Crane bought the estates in 1630 but it was subsequently destroyed in 1643 during the English Civil War between the Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists ("Cavaliers") between 1642 - 1651. The House was held by the Royalists during the siege, but was deliberately burnt down by the Parliamentarians on Christmas Day, leaving only a brewhouse, kitchen and buttery with 2 bedrooms above.
Scene of the Civil War at Grafton Regis (wall painting in Village Hall)
The House was rebuilt over the ruins of the Palace by 1661 and in 1675 Charles II created the Dukedom of Grafton and gave it to his son Henry FitzRoy who became the 1st Duke of Grafton until his death at the siege of Cork in 1690, after which he was succeeded by his son, Charles FitzRoy.
By the 18th Century the house seemed to have degenerated into a farm house until it was partially modernised in 1833 and occupied by Lieutenant Colonel George FitzRoy. It was subsequently occupied by many tenants of the FitzRoy family, the FitzRoys themselves making nearby Wakefield Lodge their family seat.
In 1940 the house was occupied by Lord Hillingdon until 1951, and in 1953 it became a boys boarding school In 1960 it became a home again and passed through several hands until being sold and was turned into the Head Injury Rehabilitation unit of AMI Hospitals in 1985, which is now run by Priory Healthcare.
For a much more detailed and excellent account of the History of the House, see graftonregis.com here.
See the Image Gallery below for images of the House