The site has a Victorian house with a 0.8 hectare walled garden dating from around 1850. There are also Messenger greenhouses built in the 1880s. The house was home to the Paget family including Arthur Paget, the inventor of the land drainage system. The walled kitchen garden received a grant for restoration form the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2004.
Description: Two Messenger greenhouses, both lean-to, now demolished for safety reasons..
Description: A kitchen garden on a south-facing sloping site, with one south-facing buttressed wall.
Description: The orchard contains both existing trees and newly-planted local varieties.
Description: Some of the fruit trees are espaliered on the wall.
Description: Garden wall in poor condition.
- Detailed History
The following is from the Loughborough Echo :
In July 2016, Nanpantan Hall will for the first time play host to a wedding in its ornate lounge room.
Guests will look out past the bride and groom through ceiling-height windows, across the flowerbeds and the manicured lawn to Buck Hill in the distance.
It marks another curious turn for one of Loughborough’s more intriguing buildings.
Seen only from a vantage point across the valley, or by heading up the long and winding driveway from the main road, the hall’s seclusion amidst the trees is a fitting reflection of its place in Loughborough history.
It was this newspaper that in the spring of 1986 claimed the arrival of a mystery organisation at Nanpantan, when a cousin of the wealthy Paget family bequeathed the property to the School of Economic Science (SES), a philosophical organisation that has remained there quietly ever since.
Joanna Herbert-Stepney was left the hall by the late Joan Paget and passed it onto the SES soon after, feeling it would be in good hands. Much of the hall’s content was auctioned, although Herbert-Stepney still possesses great boxes of yellowed documents that were retrieved.
It is difficult to tell quite how influential that original coverage in the Echo was on the public imagination, but a certain shroud of secrecy has always remained.
The longer history of Nanpantan Hall is fascinating and reveals stories of wealth, loss and loneliness in which the SES era forms only a final, enthralling layer.
Digging in the Leicestershire Record Office at Wigston, Nanpantan Hall does not appear in any official documentation until the late 1870s, when a ‘hall, stabling, coach houses and an entrance lodge’ are noted on the Land Tax Record.
The original owners of the hall were not the Paget family, as it is sometimes assumed, who only took up residence there later.
The hall was in fact built in the 1870s at the request of Edward Warner, who gave his name to Cartwright and Warner’s hosiery mill off Nottingham Road, near to the railway station.
The Warners were a wealthy and notable family in Loughborough and Edward Warner himself, for reasons unknown, continued to live at his Quorn Hall residence even after the building of the new property at Nanpantan was completed.
The first recorded resident was a Miss Harriet Egremont, a lady of considerable means, whose spindly handwriting is visible on the 1885 Census. When she moved to Great Malvern, Warner’s son and family moved into the vacated hall, before selling it to William Byerley Paget of Southfields Hall – now home to the Charnwood Council – before the century was out.
The legacy of the Warner family, whose prominence in Loughborough fell away with the closing of the hosiery business in 1929, is maintained at Nanpantan Hall in the form of a simple stonework squirrel – the Warner family crest – that still sits atop the front door.
A glance at the life of William Byerley Paget reveals a man of stature in a family of prestige. Like Warner before him, Paget was Master of the Quorn Hounds, and his family tree tells of a well-connected network of bankers, MPs and surgeons.
Rather than moving into Nanpantan Hall immediately, though, Mr Paget chose instead to let it to a number of tenants, including Thomas Everard, son of the famed brewer.
Records remain of Paget’s huge inventory drawn up for Everard’s tenancy, including sundries on the list as meagre as crockery.
After Paget and family moved in during the early 1900s, the history of the hall shows a litany of curious little details. Paget’s son, William Edmund, married and was the father to two children, Peter and Joan, the latter of whom would remain there until the 1980s, and who is remembered by a few in and around Loughborough.
In the First World War, Nanpantan Hall served as a hospital and was involved with the Army Remount Service, a body responsible for training and providing horses for combat.
After the war, the young Peter was sent off to boarding school where he befriended the suave actor David Niven, who would write pleasingly about summers he spent at Nanpantan Hall in his autobiography.
After William E. Paget died in 1928, suffering a fall during at hunt at Groby, Peter himself died in 1944 as a soldier in the Royal Armoured Corps. And when the mother passed in the late 1960s, the hall’s only remaining resident was Joan, who lived out her years somewhat reclusively, attended to only by her chauffeur and his wife, who remain even now in the entrance lodge. According to him, Joan would frequently walk the path from the hall across the valley to Buck Hill, from where he would escort her home.
Joanna Herbert-Stepney inherited the hall after Joan Paget’s death in 1985, along with much of the Paget estate. She passed the property onward to the SES, where she had once studied.
It was a poignant time for the school. Only two years before, two London Standard journalists, Peter Hounam and Andrew Hogg, had published an exposé of the school, making unflattering claims about its practical philosophy courses.
This perhaps explains why the Echo originally reported the arrival of the SES as it did, and why Nanpantan Hall remained for so long an object of curiosity in Loughborough.
When Leon Maclaren, the founder of the SES, died in the mid-1990s the entire school gradually underwent a change in approach, choosing to be more open about its study programmes in order to prevent misunderstanding.
The school teaches a philosophy drawn from Eastern and Western traditions, and its courses are taken up by those who are interested in self-discovery and searching out a deeper meaning from life.
Nanpantan Hall has been used since its acquisition to host retreats for those students who have graduated from foundation courses, who spend longer periods of time there practicing what they have learnt and furthering their study. It is a setting in which students can dedicate themselves more fully to the philosophy of the school.
It is not for everyone, certainly, but in the quiet of its rooms, it is easy to see how the hall has become a place of reflection and solitude.
Groups of students now practice in the same rooms where once the Warners and the Pagets would have lit log fires and looked out across to the valley to the Beacon.
Gardeners tend to the lawns and mind the immaculate flowerbeds. The paint on the old conservatory has peeled a little but it remains a striking construction. And in the window of one of the bedrooms, tiny traces of sticky tape remain from as far back as Second World War, when wisdom suggested that it would prevent the panes from shattering.
The building is something of a monument to Loughborough that has been quietly kept secret for much of its recent life.
The hall’s affairs are currently overseen by a warm and amiable couple who first arrived in 1994, who met through the SES and married, and who seem perfectly at ease here.
In line with the wider development of the school, they have opened up the hall in recent years.
They tell stories of groups who have since visited and the handful of local people who have begun tending the walled garden tucked away at the bottom of the valley.
The decision to alter the public face has been motivated by a will to open the doors of the SES and, more recently, by a need for revenue. The upkeep of the house in itself cannot be insignificant.
- Associated People