Gedling House – a little bit of history….
Gedling House is a large detached mansion, built around 1780, in the reign of George 111. At this time Gedling was a small settlement of 400 houses – ‘standing in a picturesque valley’. The house was part of a larger estate owned by Thomas Smith (1743-1817), of the Smith banking family, who went on to acquire further land under the Gedling Enclosure Award, 1794.
Over the next 230 years the house was a central point of the community, with ownership passing through many of Nottingham’s most wealthy families, and other notable families renting the house as their main home.
Smith sold the house to William Elliott Elliott (1756 -1844) in 1803. It stayed within this family until 1908 when it was sold to Walter H. Rawnsley (1856-1936). The Rawnsley family owned the house and land until 1955. During this time the house was leased from 1908 -1927 to Sir John Turney (1839-1927) and later until at least 1939, to John William Carnegie C Kirk (1878-1962). Turney is particularly well known as a Nottingham industrialist who owned Turney Brothers leather works. His grandchild Nicolas Monsarrat describes life at Gedling House in his autobiography Life is a four letter word’. Recollecting Christmas 1916 he says ‘ it was a family gathering – all the family; and there was no doubt who was in charge of it, and who counted the assembled heads. For children and grown-ups alike, Grandfather was a formidable figure; and for children especially, the nearest thing to god we were likely to meet.’
Whilst Turney may have been the most famous occupant previous owners had all served the city in various roles, and often served their county in the military.
The house also provided a home and place of employment for many generations of servants, from the lowly kitchen maid to the butler, and around the estate further families acted as gamekeepers and farm hands.
The house was used to house the War Cabinet during World War 2 and by 1955 it was sold to Carlton Urban District Council (later Gedling Borough Council) and used by the Education Department, a museum, a wedding venue and the Council’s housing arm.
Whilst the building has been refurbished for various uses (including making part of the building a children’s nursey), many of the original features have survived and the house was listed Grade 2 with English Heritage in 1950.
Today, Gedling is a busy community with a large house building programme, but has retained and developed various green spaces, including the reclaiming of old mining areas as the Gedling County Park. Gedling Woods, bordering the house, continues to attract local people and was been managed by the Friends of Gedling House Woods (FGHW) since 2003. The walls of the original walled garden have been repaired as part of the Gedling bypass construction, and you can still see the silhouette of the ridge and furrow system in the meadow area
In 2021 Kadampa Meditation Centre, Nottingham acquired the house as a new home for our meditation centre, we own other listed buildings around the country and have a lot of experience in protecting and providing a practical use for historical buildings.
We are continuing to research the history of the house – if you have any memories or information please feel free to contact us. We also hope to offer tours of the building, subject to Government Covid precautions, and our programme of building work.
Mo Cooper for Kadampa Meditation Centre, Nottingham (March 2021)