We know from records that the building started out as a 16th century farmhouse and was expanded by successive members of the Dryden family, but how did it grow from farmhouse to stately home?
So far, we know that the first addition in the mid to late 16th century was a tower house, a building type quite alien to Northamptonshire. Its design was a nod to the Cumberland heritage of the owner, John Dryden, who was used to the more defensive houses required in the lawless northern regions.
However, we continue to speculate about how we can identify the form of the early farmhouse. The Servants’ Hall, an intriguing room with painted panelling discovered during National Trust’s restoration works, has been identified as a later addition to the farmhouse. It was created from two smaller rooms and clad with panelling from another part of the house, probably John Dryden’s tower house. Examination of the panelling by our timber specialist Damian Goodburn revealed that these are made from atypical material for such work and is suggestive of imported wood used for fine furniture, such as walnut or fruitwood.
This room was subject to both laser survey and 3d photogrammetry which allowed us to visualise it in relation to the surrounding rooms. Our investigation has even allowed us to solve the mystery of a hidden cupboard space. Its true function has been the subject of years of debate and theories even include a secret masonic chamber. Our interpretation is perhaps less romantic: we think it represents the remnants of the former room arrangements and the space became trapped by the creation of the larger room and a new staircase adjacent to it.
Explore the space for yourself in this 3d model: