These pages were produced by Roy Mat for his Wilford & Clifton Index in 1997

The Clifton Hall Grounds

And The Octagon Hall

       Clifton Hall From The East, 1st Jan 1997
From Watch Tower To University

For almost 600 years the Clifton family lived at what is now the Grade I listed building, Clifton Hall.  It stands on the summit of a cliff on the edge of Clifton Village over looking the woodland of Clifton Grove and the meandering River Trent. Its initial positioning was probably for defense although after generations of modifications and extensions, the original watch tower fortification has been adapted to a stately home.  The architect John Carr known for his work on Harewood House, Colwick Hall and the Newark and Chesterfield Town Halls spent two years extending and modifying the hall until 1780.  King Charles I stayed briefly at Clifton Hall in 1632 as a guest of the 1st Baronet of Clifton, Sir Gervase Clifton. King Charles occupied a bedroom at the top of the circular staircase that runs up the east wing of the house. During his visit the King played bowls with the Baronet. The building became the Clifton Girls Grammar School in 1958 before taking on its current role as an administrative building for the Nottingham Trent University in 1976.

           Clifton Hall Lion, September 1997
Clifton Lion
The Hall Grounds

Facing the eastern elevation of the hall, at the foot of the first grass terrace lies two large, weather worn stone lions.   The statues are based on a design in Rome's St. Peter's Square.  The sleeping lions lay seemingly flopped on a wall either side of a set of steps that lead to the Halls gardens.  One of them still has a legible date of 1840 inscribed on the stand.  However one of the lions is of a much more recent construction.  It's a replacement statue organised by the Clifton Girls Grammar School Headmistress, Miss Heron, after the original had been damaged.  Interestingly, the new lion is said to be solid stone while the original was hollow.  Many people afterwards tried to identify the genuine article by tapping on each statue and listening for a hollow echo. Unfortunately, one lion is in very poor condition, overgrown and with half of its body and head seemingly smashed away. It's condition has the strange effect of making the lion's contented smile all the more eye-catching. What an appalling shame after the School went to so much trouble in the 1950's to preserve the lions, the statues have been so recently neglected.  I also suspect the damaged lion is the older of the two as the stonework seems to match exactly the aged, yellow colours of the steep rockery that rises to the next tier of the garden.

       The Ruined Garden Arches,
                September 1997

On the second and largest tier of the garden is a ruined structure built into the third tier.  This would probably once a summer house.   During the period the Hall served as a School the structure served as an open air theatre.  As with the lion statues, it's a shame the structure has fallen into disrepair.

        The Octagon Hall Domed Ceiling,
                       October 1997
Octagon Hall Dome Roof
The Octagon Hall

From the outside the hall looks a very mundane, characterless brick shaped building.  The exterior doesn't even hint at the presence of a 70 foot high Octagon Hall of stunning scale and design.  It comes at a complete surprise to the casual explorer that such a majestic, circular feeling room could be buried within such a rectangular block.  The Octogan Hall is constructed on the site of the original watch tower and stands in the centre of the building.  It resembles a somewhat undersized, prominently white ballroom with a domed ceiling.  It has detailed, delicate looking symmetrical moldings arranged high on the walls at different levels.  A number of alcoves just above ground level also display life-size plaster statues of Roman Gods.  The moldings and dome roof have stood the passage of time admirably and appear to be in pristine, spotless condition.   This is quite simply a very difficult room to photograph due to the scale of the hall and the height of many of the most spectacular decorations.  My pictures are therefore somewhat dark and do not really do the room justice. 

Octagon Hall Roman Figure

Octagan Hall Alcove Roman Figures

Octagon Hall Roman Figure

A High Mounted Crossed Musket Molding
Spanning One Of The Rooms Eight Sides

The Impressive Marble Pillared Entrance

Many Thanks To Tony Ellingham For Showing Me Round The Hall And Making These Pictures Possible

Next Page is "The Georgian Parlour"