Sunday, October 29, 2006

Mystery at Bonkers Hall

I have remarked before that many literary scholars regard Nevill Holt in Leicestershire as the model for Bonkers Hall, the ancestral home of my old friend Lord Bonkers.

With this in mind, it is interesting to read a Times feature on David Ross, co-founder of the Carphone Warehouse, who bought the old pile when it closed as a prep school and converted it back into a private house.

Its author, Caroline Donald, describes the character of the place:

The 30,000sq ft house sits on top of a gentle hill ... with huge views over the Welland Valley. It is a gloriously eccentric architectural assortment, with castellations, turrets, cloisters and wings added to the original 13th-century great hall over the years. It was home to the Cunard family from 1876 to 1912; Nancy Cunard, the writer and society hostess, was born there in 1896.

Elaborate wrought-iron gates lead back to the lower lawn. Along with the weather vane on the house, they were made by Sir Bache Cunard, Nancy’s father, in his workshop in the tower.

Googling "Nevill Holt" also throws up this painting - "Mystery at Nevill Holt" by Duncan Hannah. No doubt it stems from the Hall's time as a school, but Lord Bonkers would probably conclude that one of the Well-Behaved Orphans has got over the wall.


Anonymous said...

Well, the boy in the painting certainly is wearing the school uniform of Nevill Holt, as I remember it (although it could as easily be the uniform of a thousand other schools!). But I don't recognize any of the buildings in the background. I don't think the artist can have based them on any images he'd seen of the school

Anonymous said...

The building on the right of the painting resembles the Collonade at Nevill Holt but the rest is not in keeping with the real building.

Anonymous said...

On reflection I believe it was called the Cloisters, not the Collonade. Since I haven't been there since 1968 my memory is a little hazy!