Doddington Hall is quickly becoming one of my favourite places to visit in Lincolnshire. The grand Elizabethan house, dating back to 1595, is just full of history and fascinating stories, and, as I found last year visiting the garden exhibition, Sculpture, has beautiful seven-acre gardens to explore. This year, I had the pleasure of returning to Doddington, this time to see a new exhibit, ‘Voices from the Inside’.


‘Voices from the Inside is an exhibition of quilts, and the pieces can be found within the rooms of Doddington Hall, which are just fascinating. Wall after wall, you will see portrait after portrait of previous families of the hall, dignitaries and royalty, with some painted by the renowned 18th century painter Sir Joshua Reynolds. With over 400 years of history passed down from generation to generation, there is quite an eclectic collection of furniture, ceramics, musical instruments, games and textiles throughout the house. 

The Brown Parlour houses many historic paintings, and is still occasionally used after formal dinners. 


The Great Hall is described as “the hub of life in the house where most of the living and eating took place from Elizabethan times right through to the 1970s”. Look out for the Scold’s Birdle on the mantle-piece, a torture device used in the Middle Ages as punishment for women who gossip (it is terrifying!) 


The Long Gallery has formerly been an indoor promenade, a bowling alley and a school room, and also has wonderful views of the gardens.


And the Drawing Room features some beautiful pieces of furniture, including this cabinet. This room is rarely used as much of its contents is fragile, but while you are here, you must read the lovely story of the dog depicted in the painting over the fireplace, which dates back to 1693.


The Grand Staircase’s stained glass windows features some well known faces, in addition to a collection of antique weaponry and decorative furniture.


And the Holly Room features something quite special. Here is one of Doddington’s Flemish tapestries from the 1620s, which over the years has become worn and damaged from smoke and light. The Doddington Hall Conservation Charity has been established to help restore these historic tapestries.


And you must step into the Tent Room.


Aren’t the colours beautiful? The walls and ceilings are covered in an applique Egyptian tent, created in Cairo in the early 20th century. You can also visit the Library which has a portrait of the Birch family, current owners of Doddington Hall, The Tiger Bedroom, named after a tiger which features on a tapestry in the room, and the Print Room which houses sketches of George Ralph Payne Jarvis, the first Jarvis of live in the hall.

With such wonderful textiles already within Doddington Hall, their latest exhibition is the perfect complement. 

‘Voices from the Inside’ has been curated in partnership with Fine Cell Work, a charity that teaches men and women in prison to do creative needle work to a very high, commision standard: “It explores what it means to be ‘inside’, and the power of stitch work to communicate, rehabilitate and heal.” The pieces created by prisoners sit alongside other works made by carers, soldiers and artists.

The Help for Heroes quilt has been stitched by prisoners of HMP Wandsworth, and was extensively researched by a military veteran within the prison who wanted to do “something for the lads, even in here.” It hangs as a tribute to the soldiers killed during the war in Afghanistan.


The Doddington Patchwork Quilt, amazingly, dates back to the 19th century but was only discovered in the 1980s, hidden in a drawer. The quilt has been worked on since, and you can see it displayed alongside the sewing box, remnants and templates found with the patchwork.


Mexican Rose is a detailed applique quilt created by a prisoner who had obsessive tendencies and would thoroughly clean his cell to fill his day. Quilting with Fine Cell Work allowed him to focus on something creative and gave him a much-needed sense of purpose. 

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The Printed Bible Coverlet, generously loaned by York Quilt Museum, was created in the late 19th century by Catherine Harle. It features religious quotations, musical scores and illustrations.


The Edwin & Mary Bloomfield Coverlet, hanging within the Grand Staircase, also features religious writings believed to be remembering the loss of a child. Edwin and Mary’s names can be found within the central hexagon.


Within the Drawing Room, you will see ‘Right to Life’, a quilt by renowned artist Grayson Perry. This is Perry’s second quilt and represents the American abortion debate of the 1990s.


Of course, there are many more pieces to admire in this exhibition, and before you leave you must sign your name on a square of the Doddington Hall Visitor’s quilt, which shall be pieced together towards the end of the exhibition.


And be sure to leave time for a stroll around the beautiful seven-acre Doddington Hall Gardens too; romantic wild gardens with a turf maze, an abundance of fruit trees and ancient chestnut trees and a peaceful, carefully landscaped garden displaying two water features.


Read more about the award-winning Doddington Hall Pyramid and the gardens in this post

‘Voices from the Inside’ runs until 31st August on Wednesdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays only from 12pm to 4pm. For more information, visit the Doddington Hall website.