The Great Hall
The present Great Hall incorporates the original mediaeval hall of 1300.
When Richard Fiennes, father and son, carried out their alterations in the sixteenth century they removed the Gothic windows and inserted the present broad windows, together with a plaster ceiling, and plastered the walls. The present pendant ceiling dates from the 1760s and was probably designed by the architect Sanderson Miller.
In 1900 the plaster was removed from the walls leaving the bare stone of the fourteenth century to make a strange contrast with the sixteenth century windows and the eighteenth century ceiling. Follow this link to the University of Aberdeen's photographic archive to see a picture of the Great Hall in about the 1890's.
Over the fireplace is a copy of a portrait of William of Wykeham, founder of New College Oxford and Winchester College, and early owner of Broughton.
Other portraits include this of William eighth Baron and first Viscount Saye and Sele (1582-1662).
William, who bore the nickname 'Old Subtlety' was created a Viscount in 1624 and later became one of the leaders in the Parliamentary struggle against Charles I, though perhaps historians have tended to underrate his influence and importance.
Not so the Royalist historian Clarendon, who describes him as "a man of great parts and the highest ambition ... he had always great credit and authority in Parliament". Towards the end of the Civil War he played an important role in trying to bridge the differences between the extremists on the Parliamentarian side and some of the more moderate Royalist elements.
In 1630 he joined with Lord Brooke and others in the founding of the Providence Island Company and the two of them later established a Puritan settlement called Say-brook (now Old Saybrook ) at the mouth of the Connecticut River, the first English settlement on the south shore of New England.
In 1639 he and Lord Brooke openly defied Charles I at York in refusing to take the military oath of allegiance, an act which caused Charles I angrily to address him with the words "....I find you averse to all my proceedings".
After taking an active part on the Parliamentarian side in the Civil War he disapproved of the execution of Charles I, retired for a time to Lundy Island and declined to sit in Cromwell's 'Other House'.
At the restoration of Charles 11 in 1660 he was pardoned and made a privy councillor. He died at Broughton in 1662.
For further information on the English Civil War, there is a remarkably good resource at www.british-civil-wars.co.uk
Another portrait in the Hall is of William's second son, Nathaniel (1608-1669) at the time of the Civil War, during which time he got into trouble for surrendering Bristol to the Royalists without apparently having put up enough of a fight. He was later Speaker in Cromwell's 'Other House' or House of Lords.
The leather buckets in the window recesses are eighteenth century fire buckets. The red plush covers on the sofas were made in the neighbouring village of Shutford about one hundred years ago.
The Great Hall was the setting of the dance scene in Shakespeare in Love (Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow), of the Morecambe & Wise Christmas show (with Diana Rigg), the sword fight in the Scarlet Pimpernel (Ian Mckellen and Anthony Andrews), and other such revelries.
Image from the Broughton Castle Guidebook (Photographs © the estate of Mark Fiennes, and Andrew Lawson)