Swarkestone Pavilion

Near Ticknall, Derbyshire


This tiny pavilion was a majestic grandstand for the enclosure in front. It is a mature expression in miniature of all that was best in Tudor and Jacobean architecture. 

  • Bed in Living RoomBed in Living Room
  • Mobile signalMobile signal
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath

Beds 1 Double

4 nights
£592 equivalent to £74.00 per person, per night

A grandstand view – but of what?

The excuse for building the majestic little Swarkestone Pavilion was to give a grandstand view of whatever went on in the enclosure in front of it. Suggestions range from the romantic (jousting) and the rough (bear-baiting) to the more prosaic (bowls). We think the latter most likely because there is evidence of a payment in 1632 for a ‘bowle alley house’. It was built by a mason, Richard Shepperd, but its design has been attributed to John Smythson, one of our first true architects and son of Robert, who built many notable houses in the Elizabethan era. So whatever its purpose, we believe it is a building well worth preserving as well as a romantic Landmark.

Once a shell without roof or floors but now restored and majestic

The pavilion belonged to Swarkestone Hall, a great house demolished by 1750. The pavilion survived thanks to the Harpur Crewe family of Calke, but it had long been a shell when we took it on. We re-roofed it and put back floors and windows to recreate the room in which you live and sleep. Glimpse the stars as you flit across the roof to the bathroom in one of the turrets.

Swarkestone, with its important bridge across the Trent, has seen great events: a battle for its control in the Civil War did great damage to the Hall; and in 1745 it was the point at which Bonnie Prince Charlie’s generals convinced him to turn back from his attempt to march on London to seize the English throne. Reluctantly, Charles turned his troops back towards Scotland, where they met their fate at Culloden. The pavilion has even featured, pre-restoration, on the cover of a Rolling Stones album. Today it stands majestic in the Derbyshire countryside as the modern world goes on around it. 

Floor Plan


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Map & local info

Swarkestone Pavilion overlooks a large walled enclosure. The village of Swarkestone has a bridge across the Trent which has seen many great events over the years of fighting for its control.

The "un-stately home and estate" Calke Abbey is just ten minutes from Swarkestone. The faded glory of the house, stables and gardens gives fascinating and enlightening insight into the dramatic decline of country houses during the 20th century. 

Catton Hall is sharp contrast to this, the private home of the same family for 600 years and still going strong. Bearded Theory Festival is held in the grounds of Catton Hall every year. 

The historic market town of Melbourne is only a few miles away, and is worth visiting for its splendid Norman church and its many other listed buildings, including the Grade II* listed Melbourne Hall with its impressive formal gardens.

Look out for visiting choirs to Derby Cathedral throughout the year. Close by is the Derby Museum and Art Gallery and Pickford's House Museum.

For more information and ideas for things to do during you stay at Swarkestone Pavillion, take a look at our Pinterest Map.

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

Clear directions
Essential info
What you need to know about this building
  • No.
  • Via a gravel driveway from the main road.
  • Derby – 5 miles.
  • There are two parking spaces adjacent to the property.
  • There are Rointe electric panel radiators.
  • To check up-to-date mobile network coverage in the area, visit signalchecker.co.uk. Due to the location and structure of many of our buildings, signal strength may differ to those indicated.
  • The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker.
  • There is one bathroom with a bath (this is accessed across the roof terrace).
  • The stairs are steep.
  • There is an enclosed garden and a roof terrace. The garden is cut to provide a series of walkways through longer grass which is then cut back completely twice a year.  A small area is cut shorter in front of the pavilion to allow for any ball games. Please note that although the garden is enclosed we cannot guarantee that it is secure for dogs.    
  • Yes, you need to go out of one turret and across the roof to access the bathroom.
  • Yes,  but we would ask that care is taken in inclement weather and that children are supervised when on the roof.
  • Yes, Swarkestone Pavilion is occasionally in the flightpath for the East Midlands Airport. Flying activity varies from day to day and can include flying through the night.
Booking and Payment
  • If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • The key arrangements will be included in the Further Infomation document which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • If your stay starts more than two months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy and The Bunk House at Llwyn Celyn must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • Our housekeeper will leave the key in a suitable place, the details of which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
Staying at a Landmark
  • Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.  Further information on access when visiting Lundy can also be found here.
  • Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control. A charge of £20 per stay is made for each dog. Please contact booking enquiries if a registered assistance dog is supporting one of the guests, for which there is no charge.
  • Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visiting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).
  • Landmark’s electrical systems have not been designed to provide continuous power from one socket over several hours.  If an ordinary socket is used to charge an electric vehicle, there is significant risk of an electrical fire and consequent danger to life.  Therefore, we are unable to allow electric vehicle charging from most of our Landmarks at present.

    We are working to provide Type 2 Electric Vehicle charge points at our properties where there is private parking.  Where this is available, please request this facility when booking the property to ensure the outlet is enabled on your arrival.  There is a small charge to cover the cost of electricity provided.  Please book this facility in advance.
  • No, we do not allow smoking in any Landmark.
  • Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival. Except for the Llwyn Celyn Bunkhouse.
  • Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
    Except at Llwyn Celyn Bunk House where a password is available in the property when you arrive.
  • A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. Hairdryers are provided.

Do you have other questions?

Our Booking Enquiries team can help with information about each building.

Booking Enquiries
01628 825925
[email protected]

Opening hours
Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm


Little was known about this building

For a long time little was known of the Swarkestone Pavilion; neither its precise date, nor its designer, nor its place in the wider arrangement of house (the vanished Swarkestone Hall) and garden. Even its name has varied according to differing opinions of its original purpose - from the Stand or Grandstand, through the Bullring to the Summerhouse. It has been widely agreed, however, that here was a distinguished piece of architecture.

In type it belongs to the same family as the late Elizabethan and Jacobean prodigy houses, reduced to miniature proportions. Fortunately, more information has emerged about the whole of Swarkestone following research in the Harpur-Crewe archive by Dr Howard Colvin and Philip Heath, and this has since been added to by local historians.

A new house (28 hearths in 1662) was built at Swarkestone in the 1560s by Sir Richard Harpur, a lawyer who rose to eminence under the patronage of the Earl of Shrewsbury and by his own marriage to Jane Findern, an heiress. In 1622 the estate was inherited by his son's ten year old grandson, John Harpur. This John formally took up his inheritance in 1630, and was knighted in the same year. At the same time a marriage was arranged for him with Catherine Howard, grand-daughter of the Earl of Suffolk, and step-daughter of William Cavendish. Accounts for 1631-2 record the expenses of `gloves, gauntlets and liveries' at their wedding, and for preparing Swarkestone Hall for their residence.

The arms of this young couple appear on the shields on the front of the Pavilion and it may have been built to celebrate the marriage. Entered in the same set of accounts for 1631-2 is a payment of £111 12s 4d to Richard Shepperd the mason for `New Buildynge', together with a sum for `Boardes' for the `Bowle Alley house'. There seems every reason to identify these entries with the Pavilion and to date it therefore to 1631-2. The Shepperds were well-known masons in the area at the time. Whether Richard Shepperd was also its designer is uncertain: he also built the `Gothic Survival' church at Staunton Harald but little else is known of him, although he describes himself in his will as ‘Architecter’. The Harpur accounts also name a Mr. Woolridge as the Bowl Alley Surveyor, and Mark Girouard has suggested that the Pavilion could be attributed on stylistic grounds to John Smythson. This is credible, given Smythson's service with William Cavendish and Sir John Harpur's marriage with Cavendish's step-daughter, the closest of several links between the two families.

The accounts also help to disperse the bloodthirsty mythology that has grown up around the Pavilion, and establish it as belonging not to the activities of the park but to those of the garden as a pavilion or banqueting house overlooking a bowling green, no doubt as part of a formal garden layout. It is worth noting that in estate papers of the last century it was commonly referred to in these terms, once even as the Bowling Green Pavilion. It may well have doubled as a banqueting house to which small groups could retire to enjoy the ‘banquet’ course of fine wines and sweetmeats, play cards or just enjoy the view of their host’s estate.

The interpretation of the Pavilion's surroundings is confused by the later history of the site. Sir John's branch of the family died with him in 1679. The estate passed to the Harpurs of Calke and the house was dismantled in 1746-8. Surviving high walls containing windows and doors and even a fireplace may reflect its outline at least in part. While an element of picturesque management has been involved in this structure's preservation, as in that of the Pavilion, a symmetry appears to exist between the two, in axis with the old door in the wall opposite. This fits too with a formal layout of gravel paths recorded during ploughing in 1988 in a paddock to the west of the walls; and with a rectangular pond, possibly a canal, which formerly lay to their east. However, in the early 19th century, Swarkestone was the scene of large-scale breeding and sale of livestock. It is possible that some of the walled enclosures, even that in front of the Pavilion, relate equally to this activity.

Although the cupola roofs were carefully repaired in 1844 after one was struck by lightning, the Pavilion fell into dereliction. It acquired some notoriety in 1968 when it was used by the Rolling Stones to promote their album Beggar’s Banquet, and another image from the same photoshoot was used on the back of a later compilation album, Hot Rocks 1964-1971.

A short history of Swarkestone Pavilion

The full history album for Swarkestone Pavilion


A shell without roof or floors

Landmark had first approached the Harpur-Crewe estate to acquire the Pavilion as early as 1966, just a year after the trust was founded, but it was not until 1985 that it finally took it on. By then it was a shell without roof or floors. The lead had been stolen from the tower roofs so that only their timber frames remained. Repairs were undertaken by Linford Bridgeman Ltd under the supervision of John Bucknall of Rodney Melville & Associates, and such was the dereliction that almost everything you see today except the masonry is new work.

The masonry is local gritstone, probably quarried on the estate, and used as rubble for the back and sides but carefully dressed to ashlar for the front elevation. It had mostly weathered well although some careful repointing was needed, using colour-matched lime mortar. The lime render on three sides of the Pavilion was renewed. Some of the window surrounds and sills were so cracked as to need replacing and so sections of new stone from a quarry in the Pennines were inserted.

The cupola roofs were found to have had their profile slightly changed in 1844, having been set back inside the line of the cornice. After some negotiation with English Heritage, who were reluctant to see this early repair lost, we reconstructed the slightly more generous seventeenth-century profile around the 1844 frame, like an onion skin. Permission was gained to transpose the old ball finials from the inner to the outer skin, and the cupolas then recovered with lead. The main roof would also originally have been covered in lead, but as one of the turrets was to become a bathroom, a surface less slippery when wet was necessary and so the new roof is stone paving laid on asphalt on top of a concrete structure. The water drains away between and under the stones.

The cellar, which had been deliberately filled with rubble, and steps were rediscovered and the residue of a lime ash floor was found at first floor level although it was decided that a wooden floor would be more practicable for today’s needs.

Apart from a few old patches of plaster, no trace of the first floor chamber’s decoration remained, even though it is likely that this would originally have been highly ornate. To avoid fakery, a simple heavy cornice moulding was applied to give the room dignity. The staircase had long since disappeared and so the architect has designed a new one in the position of the original, made to a quality to rival anything that the joiners of the 1630s might have produced.

Availability & booking

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What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.