History of Quorn House from an article dated 1953
23rd October 1953 – Loughborough Monitor
As long ago as the early 15th century, the Farnhams occupied a house on this particular site. In those days there were two branches of the family, the senior of which occupied the Over Hall (later rebuilt as Quorn House), while the junior branch lived at the Nether Hall, which when rebuilt, was named Quorn Hall.
Charles Farnham, who succeeded to the Over Hall estate, was the last male of that branch, although he preferred to live in a more modern house in Meeting Street, he was none the less anxious that the old home of the Farnhams should remain in the possession of the male line. To this end he selected his great nephew, Edward to succeed him. Edward Farnham also preferred the Meeting Street house, and so far betrayed the trust placed in him as to pull down the old Over Hall in 1747, converting the site into a farmhouse and yards.
These in turn were swept away when, at the age of 65, a grandson of the above, also Edward, began to build the present house. He called it Quorndon House although there seems to be no reason for discontinuing the use of the old name – Over Hall – which was more appropriate for a house on the old site.
Quorndon House, or Quorn House as it is now called, was completed in 1820. It was built of brick, with cement facings, in the late Georgian style, with long sash windows, and a roof sloping to a gulley terminated by a low parapet, a feature of that period. Edward Farnham lived to enjoy his new mansion for 15 years, and was succeeded by his son, Edward Basil, MP for North Leicestershire from 1837 to 1859, who, before he died in 1879, added another wing to the house in the same style.
William Edward Farnham, his successor, also added a balancing wing, and built a ballroom on to the south end of the house. These extensive additions presumably placed him in financial difficulties, for in 1895 he sold Quorn House to his younger brother, George.
George Farnham demolished the newly built ballroom and made so many alterations to the house in an attempt to reduce its size, that he spoilt the whole conception. He died in 1933, leaving the property to Catherine Farnham, his brother’s widow. When Catherine died in 1935 she left the estate to her grandson, George Farnham, the present owner, who took up occupation in 1948.
The interior of Quorn House contains some very fine furniture and works of art, and I will describe as much of it as space will permit. In the entrance hall, formerly the dining room is a most interesting water clock made in 1631 by Allbright of Stalybridge. Very few of these have survived. A magnificent sideboard bearing the Farnham arms was made from a single oak for William Edward Farnham in 1892. It has drawers of cedarwood.
The inner hall is dominated by the graceful cantilever staircase of stone. A large display cabinet nearby contains an armorial dinner service of Worcester porcelain.
The old entrance hall of the house is used only for meetings, but is contains a fine copy of Raffael’s Madonna della Sedia, the frame of which is ornately decorated with the head of an angel in each corner. Two large marble statues bearing the sculptor’s name – Andreoni, Roma – were brought from Italy by Catherine Farnham.
In the library is an interesting collection of books, of which the most interesting is a 1599 edition of the rare “Breeches” Bible. The curious error occurs in Genesis III, verse 7: “Then the eyes of them both were opened and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves breeches.” I saw, too, a Psalter in French and German, dated 1593, while another old volume bore in the flyleaf the inscription, “John Farnham, his bookie, 1649.” The library also houses a collection of Dresden and Chelsea figurines.
On the walls of the dining room are displayed the arms of the Farnhams, quartered with those of the families into which they have married. The carving on the imposing chimneypiece represents Eve giving Adam the apple in the Garden of Eden. The Indian carpet is 33ft by 20ft., while the fiddle back dining chairs are Georgian. A portrait by Zucchero (1539-1619) of John Farnham is especially interesting for inset is depicted a scene from the battle in which he lost his arm.
I was shown a fine set of glass, including tumbler, wine, port, liquer, fruit dish, finger bowl, custard glass, water carage, and glass, all of them with a design of trout and rushes. I saw, too, a Minton breakfast service which has been used by five generations of the family.
In the morning room corridor is a convex mirror surmounted by a black eagle, suggesting that it was made at the time of the American War of Independence. In the morning room is a fine collection of Masonic glass, including a firing glass and a three handled loving cup made for the Coronation of Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.
In Quorn House are two paintings of Dutch village scenes in which the clock in the church tower actually works.