At the entrance to the Lynch drive to Milton Park
Lynch Lodge was built in around 1807, to stand at the entrance to the Lynch drive to Milton Park, which belonged to the Fitzwilliam family. The family used Alwalton Hall as a dower house at that time, so it must have been convenient to be able to drive there without going round on the public roads. The drive, which takes its name from a spinney called the Lynch, is no longer passable, part of it having been flooded to make a lake.
The main, taller part of the Lodge had already been in existence for nearly two centuries before that. In its original form, it was the porch of Chesterton, a Jacobean house in the neighbouring village built (according to Pevsner) in about 1625. In the mid-17th century Chesterton was the home of the Dryden family and was visited by John Dryden the poet, cousin and namesake of the then owner. He is said to have inscribed the first line of his Aeneid on one of the window panes at Chesterton with a diamond; if so, the inscription vanished with the house when it was demolished in 1807. It then seems, in part at least, to have been in a ruinous condition but the porch was rescued and re-assembled here to form the Lodge; other bits of the house were built into the Lynch farmhouse and into other houses in the area as well. The library window in Elton Hall, for example, is one that was salvaged from Chesterton.
Lodges are rarely very large and Lynch Lodge was no exception. At first there was only one room with a loft over it, in addition to the rooms in the porch itself. In an attempt to provide more space the original two storeys of the Chesterton porch were replaced by three and a small stone lean-to containing a kitchen was added at the north end of the cottage in the 19th century. The ground floor of the porch cannot have been of much use, however, since the entrance arch was blocked with big wooden double doors, which remained in place at least until 1936. Either just before the Second World War, or soon after it, these were replaced by a window, and at about the same time a flat-roofed extension was added at the back of the building.
The families who lived in the Lodge would have had the duty of opening the gate to people coming and going from Milton Park. Often it was the wife who did this, or one of the older children, while the husband had some other job on the estate. This was apparently the case in the second half of the 19th century, when a family called Samworth lived here. Mr Samworth was employed by the Fitzwilliams and also served as the village undertaker. He had a large family, all of whom grew up in the tiny house. The youngest daughter married another estate workman, Mr Harris, who worked in the estate limekiln; he later rose to be Clerk of the Works, although by this time the family had moved to another village on the estate. One of their descendants, a Marjorie Harris, was the last person to live in the Lodge, which she did until she was well into her nineties.
After her death the Lodge, which needed further modernisation if it was to be lived in permanently, remained empty for a time. Then in 1981 a neighbour living in the early 17th-century Manor House nearby (it is now a farmhouse) suggested that the building might, as a distinguished architectural fragment, be of interest to the Landmark Trust. The Fitzwilliams were willing to sell, and the Lodge passed into the Trust’s hands in 1983.
A short history of Lynch Lodge
Read the full history album for Lynch Lodge
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Monday 13th February 2014