A Brief History of Brownsover Hall Hotel
In the Beginning...
The Ward-Boughton-Leigh family can trace their origins back to the 15th Century where the Boughton family appear to have played a very active role in the Civil War.
In the 1850’s the original Brownsover Hall was pulled down and Sir John Ward-Boughton-Leigh commissioned Sir George Gilbert Scott to design a new house in the Gothic Revival style, which was very fashionable at the time. Scott’s works also include The Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, the Midland Railway Terminus Hotel at St Pancras and the Foreign Office in Whitehall, all in London.
Although the original property was demolished, some of the former out-buildings still exist today, as well as the walled kitchen garden.
What is now The Gilbert Scott Restaurant was originally the chapel of the house, a fact which is probably accounts for the arched windows and the high panelled ceiling. It may also explain the stone arches of the Cloisters area of the hotel.
Brownsover Hall eventually ceased to be a family home after almost a century. The English Electric Company used the building from 1949 until the late 1960’s where they housed the headquarters of their Diesel Division. The Hall was converted into a hotel in the 1970’s.
The Whittle Connection
One of the Hall’s claims to fame is that Frank Whittle rented rooms here whilst working on his plans for the jet engine.
Frank was born in Coventry in 1907 and joined the Royal Air Force in 1923 eventually becoming a Pilot Officer in 1928. In 1930 he applied for, and was granted, a patent on a Turbo-jet engine. However the Air Ministry was not interested and Frank was unable to renew the patent, consequently the details were published worldwide.
In 1936 he secured financial backing and with approval from the Air Ministry formed Power-Jets to develop the engine. It was during this time that he rented rooms here at Brownsover Hall as it was a convenient place to work, located between the BTH factory in Rugby and test facilities at Lutterworth.
When Power-jets was nationalised in 1946 Frank resigned and he retired from the RAF in 1948. He was knighted by King George VI in the same year. He moved to the USA in 1976 and died in August 1996 aged 89.