Kirby Hall is a splendid stone-built Elizabethan mansion, standing alone in a hollow. Although from a distance the house looks intact, Kirby Hall was abandoned at the beginning of the 19th century and today is mostly ruinous.
Kirby Hall was begun in 1570 by Sir Humphrey Stafford of Blatherwyke, and was laid out in the medieval manner around a large courtyard. Following the death of Sir Humphrey in 1575 the house was purchased by Sir Christopher Hatton, one of Queen's Elizabeth I's courtiers.
Sir Christopher, or his son, built a range of bow-fronted reception rooms at the 'upper' end of the hall range and probably added the splendid obelisk-capped gables around the outside of the house.
In 1638 - 40 Sir Christopher's grandson remodeled the north (entrance) range. This has classically proportioned windows, pedimented gables and a towering centrepiece.
Kirby Hall remained in the hands of the Hatton family and their descendants until 1930, when the the ruined building was acquired by the Office of Works as an Ancient Monument.
Today the building is maintained by English Heritage.
Kirby Hall's courtyard facades are famous.
These are articulated by classical pilasters, with hybrid capitals supporting a frieze-like moulding. These features were some of the first to be seen in English architecture.
Other pilasters can be seen framing the doorways that once lead to individual lodgings.
The entrance range takes the form of a round-arched loggia, and the rooms above have windows inserted in 1638 as part of Stone's remodelling work. On either side of the entrance are pilasters carved with quattrocento reliefs.
In other parts of the courtyard the Rennaisance details are mixed, with the older style mullioned and transomed windows designed to give the rooms the maximum amount of light.
The hall range, entered through an ornately decorately porch, has vast windows.
The large open Hall is still roofed and a stone staircase leads up to the first floor where the grand but deserted rooms look out over the gardens.
Kirby's gardens were re-created in the 20th century to the formal designs of the late-17th century.
There is some fine topiary and peacocks stroll around the grounds.
Kirby Hall was the location for the filming of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, made in 1998.