Cold Overton Hall is a country house in the village of Cold Overton. Built c.1664 for John St John, it is a Grade I listed building.
The hall is built in 3 storeys plus attics with a 5 bay frontage. It is constructed of ironstone with limestone dressings and a hipped Swithland slate roof. The west front has a two-storey flat roofed porch projecting from a pedimented 3 bay centre.
- Brief History
John St John, High Sheriff of Leicestershire in 1632, bought the manor of Cold Overton from the Earl of Northampton c.1620 and built the present hall c.1664. In the early 18th century, it was sold by the St John family to the self-made merchant Turner family, in which it descended to a John Turner. Having no heir, he willed it to his cousin Layton Frewen, who also died childless and left it in 1777 to his own cousin, the Rev Thomas Frewen, who thereupon adopted the additional surname of Turner. The property passed to his son John Frewen-Turner, who was MP for Athlone (1807–1812) and High Sheriff of Leicestershire in 1791.
In the mid-19th century, the hall was sold to Earl Cowley, who left his wife to live with another woman in France. The hall was bought in 1912 by James Montagu, who carried out a major refurbishment, introducing 16th and 17th century panelling, ceilings, and fireplaces.
It is still privately owned.
- Walled Kitchen Garden
The WKG is 3 acres (according to 1951 sale particulars) and is located approximately a quarter of a mile from the Hall, on the south side of the Somerby Road. It is therefore completely separate from the gardens belonging to the Hall. The site slopes quite steeply due south.
The WKG is now a major commercial destination garden centre. First founded in 1948 by Fred and Ivy Gates, the garden centre is built within the original 1818 Victorian walled garden.
Record of Interview with Nigel Gates on 18 September 2015
(He is the present owner of Gates Garden Centre and grandson of Fred and Ivy Gates, who started the original business)
Fred Gates was a foreman gardener at Waddesdon Manor, which had 70 full time gardeners. He then worked on the Sandringham Estate, where he met and married, Ivy, whose father ran the electricity plant for the Estate. The King's head gardener, Mr Cooke (?) recommended Fred for the job of head gardener at Knossington Grange (mid 1930's) and this was how he came to Leicestershire, working for the Straker family. Mr and Mrs Straker had no children and, after their deaths, the Grange was left to a nephew, Lord Rossmore, who sold it.
Fred had intended to go back to Hertfordshire but the walled kitchen garden at Cold Overton came on to the market and he first rented it, in 1948 then bought it, in 1951. Fred’s son, Brian Gates, joined him in the business in the mid 1950’s. The market garden continued to expand, selling produce into nearby Oakham, Melton and Leicester, as well as selling a small amount direct to the public. Commercial growing expanded further in the 1980’s and the business began supplying large companies including Tesco and other major supermarkets. Sales to the public also increased significantly during this time, and it was during the mid 1980’s when the nursery began to evolve into the destination garden centre that it is today.
See our full research report on the Walled Kitchen Garden here:
Cold Overton Hall, Cold Overton
- Official Designations
Historic England listing for Cold Overton Hall and Adjoining Garden Walls
Reference: 1075147 Grade: I