Manuscripts and Special Collections

Clifton Family Seats


Clifton Hall

Clifton, on a rock overlooking the River Trent about three miles from Nottingham, was a fortified tower house from medieval times. It was owned by the Clifton family from the late thirteenth century until the middle of the twentieth century.


Etching showing Clifton Hall

Clifton Hall in 1676, from Thoroton's 'The Antiquities of Nottinghamshire'


A 1676 engraving by Hollar, published in Thoroton's A History of Nottinghamshire, shows a large tower on the left (the central tower is the nearby church tower), and a five-gabled three storey house which was built in the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century. Many of the rooms in this part of the house retain their Jacobean decoration.

The entire house was remodelled in the Georgian style by John Carr of York between 1779 and 1797 for Sir Gervase Clifton, 6th Baronet. The old tower was presumably demolished at this time. Carr built a new octagonal hall on the site of the previous Great Hall, but incorporated many of the existing state rooms into the new house.


Etching showing Clifton Hall in 1791

Clifton Hall in 1791, from 'Thoroton's History of Nottinghamshire, republished, with large additions, by John Throsby'


Clifton Hall was well known in the nineteenth century for its grass terraces overlooking the River Trent, and for the celebrated 'Clifton Grove': a two-mile double avenue of elm trees running alongside the Trent to Wilford. It was probably planted by Sir William Clifton, 3rd Baronet, in the late seventeenth century.

The Hall was sold by Lt-Col. Peter Thomas Clifton in the 1950s and in 1958 re-opened as Clifton Hall Girls' Grammar School. The school closed in 1976 and the Hall was taken over by Trent Polytechnic, later Nottingham Trent University. In the early twenty-first century the Hall was sold to a private purchaser, who converted it into luxury apartments and built houses in the grounds.


Hodsock Priory

Hodsock was owned through nine generations from the mid-twelfth century by the Cressy family. A moated manor house was in existence by 1250. Despite the name, which came into use only in the nineteenth century, there was never a priory or other religious institution on the site. The estate then passed to the Clifton family through the marriage of Katherine Cressy to Sir John Clifton, who died in 1403, and remained in their hands for a further thirteen generations.


Black and white photograph of Hodsock Priory Gatehouse

The Gatehouse at Hodsock Priory, Nottinghamshire, c.1938


The massive brick gateway still standing at Hodsock probably dates from the early sixteenth century, and it is possible that the original Hall, of which no trace now remains, was rebuilt at around this time. The main Clifton family residence was in Clifton near Nottingham, and after the family was fined for delinquency following the Civil War in the 1640s they ceased to use the Hodsock house.

The rebuilt house was sold in 1765 to William Mellish (1708-1791) of Blyth Hall and subsequently passed to the Buchanan family. Sir Andrew Buchanan, 5th Baronet, continues to live at Hodsock Priory with his family. See the Mellish and Buchanan Family pages for more information about the Mellish family and Hodsock Priory.


Trelydan Hall

This Tudor and Jacobean mansion in the parish of Welshpool, Montgomeryshire, came into the Clifton family through Frances Egerton Lloyd, daughter of Richard Lloyd of Aberbrachen, Denbighshire, and Trelydan, Montgomeryshire, who married Sir Gervase Clifton, 6th Baronet, in 1766. Trelydan passed from Sir Juckes Juckes-Clifton, 8th Baronet, to his daughter Marianne Margaret and her husband Sir Henry Hervey Bruce, 3rd Baronet. It was sold by their son, Sir Hervey Bruce, 4th Baronet (1843-1919), in the latter years of the nineteenth century.



Downhill in county Londonderry was built from the 1770s onwards by Frederick Augustus Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry. The estate is on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It was inherited in 1907 by Sir Hervey Juckes Lloyd Bruce, 4th Baronet (1843-1919), who had succeeded to his second cousin's estate at Clifton in 1896. In 1919 Downhill passed to his eldest twin son, Sir Hervey Ronald Bruce, 5th Baronet, while the Clifton lands passed to the younger twin, Percy Robert Bruce, who assumed the surname Clifton.

Downhill was tenanted by members of the Hervey Bruce family until 1950, but is now owned by the National Trust. The mansion is in ruins, but the Mussendon Temple overlooking the sea is open to the public.


Next page:  Clifton Family biographies


Manuscripts and Special Collections

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