Historic hall in Harborough district has been ‘somewhat mutilated’

Skeffington Hall
Skeffington Hall

A Grade II*listed manor house in the Harborough district dating back to the 15th century has been ‘mutilated’ by unauthorised building work, councillors were told.

Skeffington Hall, about 12 miles north of Market Harborough, is a handsome ironstone manor house of “high importance” set in parkland in the hamlet of Skeffington. It is privately owned.

It is in the top eight per cent of all listed buildings in England, councillors heard.

The hall is divided into two homes. The unauthorised work in the oldest, southern portion of the building includes the removal of internal walls, a fireplace and chimney breast and a staircase. Modern steel joists have been installed where walls were taken out.

Extensive work to the inside and outside of the old hall - including much repair work - was all done without the necessary Listed Building Consent, Harborough District Council’s planning committee was told. Council planning officer Emma Harrison said “substantial harm” had been done to the building.

National organisation Historic England has said “we are extremely concerned ... the historic plan form of the building is one of its most important characteristics”.

Skeffington Parish Meeting said: “Due to the lack of consultation prior to alterations some important historical features have been lost to future generations.”

Cllr Neville Hall said the ancient hall seemed to have been “somewhat mutilated”.

Applicant Clare Marrinan had asked for planning permission for the work - after it had been done.

Her agent Ian Graves said there was never any intention to harm the building and a lot of “time, energy amd investment” had gone into the refurbishment.

But the council’s planning committee refused the application because of its “detrimental impact” on the building.

In theory the owner now has to reinstate the hall as it was before the alterations

But Cllr Simon Galton said some of the changes were “irreversible”.

The council must now decide what to do next, and could in theory opt to prosecute the hall’s owner.