Rushton Hall

Desborough Road, Rushton, Kettering, Northamptonshire

Built from 1438, for Sir William Tresham (1404-1450), M.P., a veteran of the Battle of Agincourt who served as King Henry V's Attorney-General and then Speaker of the House of Commons under King Henry VI. His descendant, Sir Thomas Tresham (1543-1605) of Rushton, was a prominent recusant Catholic. Thomas' son, Sir Francis Tresham, of Rushton, died in the Tower of London in 1639 while being 'investigated' for his role in the infamous Gunpowder Plot. Their story is told in Jessie Childs' excellent book, God's Traitors, based on the "Tresham Papers" that were discovered at Rushton in 1828 during William Hope's grand refurbishment.... 

This house is best associated with...

James John Van Alen

James J. Van Alen, "The American Prince of Wales" of Wakehurst etc.


James Laurens Van Alen

"Jimmy" L. Van Alen, of New York & Newport


In 1619, Francis' son sold Rushton to William Cockayne, a merchant and Lord Mayor of London whose son became Viscount Cullen. It remained in their family until 1792 before being sold in 1828 to William Hope, and then the Clarke-Thornhill family. From the late 19th century, Rushton was leased to several tenants, most notable of whom was the man known as "the American Prince of Wales," James J. Van Alen (1846-1923) whose family lived here from 1907 to 1933, during which time they carried out a vast and much-needed restoration. As at Wakehurst (his home at Newport, Rhode Island), Van Alen filled the house with hundreds of priceless pieces of Elizabethan furniture and after Prohibition divided his time between here and the Côte d'Azur. But, it was in England that he was able to indulge perhaps his greatest passions: deer hunting and entertaining grand English aristocrats in even grander style! After just over one hundred years of ownership, Rushton Hall was sold in 1957 and the estate was divided up. Today, it is is a luxury hotel. 

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 15/03/2019 and last updated on 23/10/2020.


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