Stapleford Park is one of the great country house estates in England with what are considered to be the finest Jacobean features in Leicestershire, and has no less than thirteen grade I and II listed features; from the 19th century thatched North Lodge, to the Victorian stables, the house itself and everything in-between. Enjoy Stapleford Park for its luxury of today, or perhaps delve a little deeper into the layers of its fascinating past.
One of the earliest mentions of Stapleford is in the Norman survey of 1086 when it was held under the King by Henry de Ferrers who fought at the battle of Hastings and later, became Domesday Commissioner. During the middle ages, Stapleford was a village and formed part of the great estates of John O’Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster, fourth son of King Edward III and of the house of Plantagenet.
In 1402 the house was acquired by Robert Sherard, a descendant of one Sherard who came with William the Conqueror during the Norman conquest and obtained lands in Chester and Lancaster. For the next 484 years Stapleford remained in the possession of his family. In 1633, under William and Abigail Sherard the hall was rebuilt and the Old Wing restored. Abigail was said to have had a greater part in the restoration of this section, so perhaps her name should be carved in the stone and not her husband's! The house was further enlarged in 1670, and the park created. Perhaps it was around this time that Stapleford's reputation as a place for great hospitality began to emerge, with one guest of 1701 commending the entertainment, food and drink. The third Baron Leitrim, Bennet Sherard, became the Earl of Harborough in 1714. Around 1770, Lancelot “Capability” Brown was commissioned to turn the 16th century deer park into the idyllic landscape of today.
A change of ownership came in 1894 when the house was purchased by John Gretton, a wealthy brewer of the firm Bass, Ratcliffe and Gretton. John Gretton is said to have wanted to establish his place in society and purchased Stapleford for its connections with the fashionable hunting circles of Melton Mowbray. The house was enlarged, and he added a series of reception rooms and further bedrooms as well as a Victorian Stable Block designed in a Baroque Revival style. John Gretton's death in 1899 meant that the Long Gallery (south side of the house where there are now nine bedrooms) had not been fitted out. His son who subsequently became Lord Gretton did not share his father's social ambitions. When his grandson the third Lord Gretton, succeeded in 1982, he was faced with a house designed for entertaining on an Edwardian scale but without the brewing fortune to support it. He decided to sell the house but kept the estate.
The American restaurant entrepreneur Bob Payton bought the house and, in April 1988, after extensive work and investment, Stapleford Park opened its doors to the public as a country house hotel. On 13th July 1994, Bob Payton tragically died in a car accident. Today Stapleford Park is owned by a private individual who, like its past owners, fell in love with the house as a very special place for entertainment, for relaxation but also as a sanctuary from the bustle of everyday life.