A beautifully quiet, rural setting by the River Windrush, where you can easily imagine the life this 15th century Oxfordshire manor house used to have. The picturesque ruins of Minster Lovell Hall, located in the lovely village of Minster Lovell, are the perfect location for photographers, artists and history lovers looking for a dose of fresh air or inspiration.
Known as the home of the Lovell family for centuries, the house was built by William Lovell, Baron of Lovell and Holand, around 1440 on the foundations of an older 12th century house. Through marriage and good fortune, William was one of the richest men in England, and he built the house as a demonstration of his wealth.
Several tragic legends are attached to these picturesque medieval ruins.
The fate of Francis, the ninth and last Baron Lovell, added great mystery when a skeleton was discovered in the basement of Minster Lovell Hall in 1718 sitting upright at a table, surrounded by books, paper and pens. Some think the body might belong to the ninth Lord Lovell. Francis, who sided with the Yorkists in the Wars of the Roses, the disputes between the houses of York and Lancaster, was declared guilty of treason after the Battle of Bosworth. According to a local legend, he fled back to his estate and hid in a secret chamber. The chamber’s existence was known only to an old and trusted servant, who brought his lord food and drink. When the servant died suddenly, Lord Lovell’s hiding place became a tomb and Francis slowly starved to death.
It is said that the moans of Lord Lovell can be heard amidst the ruins to this day.
The quite extensive ruins of Minster Lovell Hall are now in the care of English Heritage as a Grade I listed building. The most prominent features are the Hall with a striking vaulted ceiling and the tower at the south-west corner which seems to be a later addition to the house. Sadly the Hall was abandoned in the 1730s and shortly later most of the buildings were dismantled for building stone.
Nowadays Minster Lovell Hall serves as a spot for romantic walks and family picnics. Surrounded by woodland and tucked behind the ancient churchyard of St Kenelms Church, the ruins are the perfect location to sit in the sun while trying to imagine life over 500 years ago.
When visiting the ruins, don’t forget to explore the charm and beauty of Minster Lovell village, home to Cotswold stone cottages with thatch roofs.
Getting to Minster Lovell Hall: The ruins are in the village of Minster Lovell, 3 miles west of Witney off the A40. Follow the English Heritage signs from the village. Minster Lovell hall is accessed from the grounds of St Kenelm’s Church where you can see the tomb of William 7th Lord Lovell.
Open any reasonable daylight hours.
Tickets and Prices:
Entrance is FREE to the Hall which is situated next to the churchyard of St Kenelms Church.
The site sits at the end of a narrow lane with no parking. Use the small car park that serves St Kenelm’s Church, the ruins are roughly a five minute walk from the site.
Dogs on leads are welcome.