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Southwick Hall has been the home of three inter-related families.

The Knyvetts, (or Knyvets) 1300-1441: They built the medieval manor house which was then known as Knyvett's Place. The two towers, one at the front of the house and the other in the courtyard at the rear, remain to this day, together with adjoining rooms. There are records of Knyvetts in Southwick for at least a century before they built the present house. Richard Knyvett, a prominent wool merchant, was keeper of the forest of Clive (or Cliffe), part of Rockingham Forest, from 1324. His son, Sir John, was Lord Chancellor of Edward III, and of his descendants one was Member of Parliament for Huntingdon shire. Another, who was Sheriff of Northamptonshire, was taken prisoner while fighting in the Hundred Years War. A ransom of a thousand pounds was demanded, and possibly as a result of this the family ran into financial difficulties and an arrangement was made whereby the house and the estate were sold to John Lynn who had married Joan Knyvett.

Crypt doorway, circa 1350(?)

The Lynns (or Lynnes) 1441-1840: They rebuilt, on the foundations of the medieval Great Hall, that part of the house which now forms the main south front. This was the period when many of the local great houses were built. It is probable that Thomas Thorpe of Kings Cliffe, the mason responsable for the construction of Kirby Hall, was employed at Southwick. In the 18th century they extended the house on the west side and made internal improvements in the Georgian style. The George Lynn who was responsible for the Tudor re-building was one of the eight bannerol-bearers at the funeral of Mary Queen of Scots at Peterborough Catherdral after her execution at Fotheringhay. There is a legend that the burial certificate is walled up somewhere in the house. A year later he was required to contribute 50 pounds for the defence of the country against the Spanish Armada. Through marriage he was connected with Sir Walter Raleigh who may possibly have visted Southwick. In the 18th Century a later George Lynn - a man of wide interests, antiquarian and scientific - kept detailed records of rainfall at Southwick which were recently used in a study of rainfall in the East Midlands. He also set up a 13-foot telescope to observe the eclipses of Jupiter's satelites in the years 1724 to 1726 and submitted his observations to the Royal Society. His improvements to the house are recorded in the church on a monument to his memory said to be the last work of Roubiliac: "He greatly improved by a most elegant taste this paternal seat of Southwick". His brother, Walter, was a doctor and engineer. For some generations after this, Southwick passed through the female line until it was bought in 1841 by George Capron.

The South Tower block

The Caprons have lived here since then until the present day. In 1870 they rebuilt the east wing, making it into two storeys. They also built the stables block. In 1909 a more impressive entrance to the house was made through the undercroft or crypt. Since the Second World War some internal alterations have been made to adapt the house to more modern living conditions. Seperate accommodation has been made in several wings of the house, whilst the family occupies the central part. George Capron, a London solicitor whose family had lived in the south of the country, bought the manor of Stoke Doyle ten years before acquiring Southwick. He had a connection with the early Lynn family through his cousin, the Rev. John Shuckburgh, after whom the public houses in Southwick and Stoke Doyle are named. His second son the Rev. George Halliley Capron, who was Rector of Stoke Doyle for many years, succeeded him in 1872. His wife was Mary Smith, whose family lived at Cobthorne, now the house of the Headmaster of Oundle School. Like the Knyvetts and Lynns before them, the Caprons have been involved in public affairs. Three generations have been magistrates and George Capron after 30 years service with the Royal Engineers, was High Sheriff in 1962, and Deputy Lieutenant of Northamptonshire. His son Christopher, the present owner, was head of BBC Television's current Affairs programmes before setting up his own TV production company.

Images by Sarah Brookman Photography, Shipshed.