Imagine the village of Folkingham 350 years ago. The beheading of Charles l is still fresh on people’s minds, the republican government of the Protectorate holds power under Richard Cromwell, and London sits in its filth awaiting the Plague and Great Fire. It was at this moment in history that The Manor House, initially called Clinton House, was built by the royalist 4th Earl of Lincoln for his son, Lord Edward Clinton, later to be the 5th Earl of Lincoln. Only St. Andrew’s Church, towering over a muddle of wood and thatched dwellings, and the castle ruin survive to share the moment.
The Manor House’s plain, upright and solid architecture is primarily formed from recycled stones from the once towering Abbey of Sempringham founded in 1131; a casualty of Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries over one hundred years earlier. In fact the stones had probably already been deployed in building the Clinton’s a substantial house in Sempringham, which was a ruin by the time Folkingham Manor was built in the early 1650s. There is no above ground evidence of the monastery, but the ruins remain of the similar Gilbertine monastery of Mattersey Priory.
Like all architecture, that of the Manor House reflects something of the times in which it was built; a mix of Protestant power and Restoration of royalty. Because of the political unrest during the decades of the mid 1600s the number of substantial houses being built was somewhat limited. Consequently the Manor is one of a relatively small number that provide a bridge between the architecture of the Elizabethan era and the great Baroque revival with Sir Christopher Wren becoming involved in rebuilding 51 churches in London, including St Paul’s Cathedral, following the Fire of London in 1666.