The Estate has been home to, and farmed by, the Willoughby family for many successive generations. Both Birdsall House and Birdsall Estate continue to be run by the family and offer an ever increasing range of activities and opportunities for guests to enjoy. From weddings to mountain bike rides, clay pigeon shooting to classical concerts we hope that we can offer something exceptional to everyone.
Birdsall village is constructed on an old monastic site. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540, the Sotheby family acquired the land from the church and built a small Tudor house, where they lived for several generations.
In 1719, Thomas Willoughby, a younger son of the 1st Lord Middleton and MP for Cambridge, was travelling over the Yorkshire Wolds from the family home, Wollaton Hall in Nottingham, when he lost his way in a heavy snowstorm. He sought shelter and followed a light he saw in the distance which led him to Birdsall House. The Sotheby’s gave Thomas shelter for the night and introduced him to Elizabeth, their daughter and only child; the pair fell in love, marrying the same year.
Birdsall House has been the home of the Willoughby family since 1729 when Thomas and Elizabeth Willoughby inherited the house from Elizabeth’s parents. They set about converting the original Tudor house into a much grander Georgian style house. Thomas and Elizabeth’s son Henry expanded further by adding a new wing in 1775 which gave the family new State Rooms; the Oval Room and the Ballroom.
In 1873 Henry, 8th Lord Middleton employed the renowned Victorian architect Anthony Salvin to further extend the house. Salvin added a symmetrical wing opposite the Georgian wing (now the Dining Room) on the other side of the house and also added a further storey to the main block of the house along with a service wing on the back of the house.
Following the first World War, and the death of several members of the family, the Willoughby’s were faced with crippling double death duties. The family were forced to sell their main family home, Wollaton Hall in Nottingham, as well as two other estates in Warwickshire and Applecross on the west coast of Scotland. Following the sale, the family’s sole residence has been Birdsall House.