Wood Norton Hall has recently been transformed into a luxurious, 50-bedroom Bespoke Hotel. But it’s had an interesting history.
The recent history of Wood Norton began in 1872, when the exiled French Duc d’Aumale purchased the estate as a hunting lodge.
By 1897, the estate had passed to his great nephew, the Duc D’Orleans, who saw Wood Norton as the ideal location to base the Bourbon-Orleans family. The hunting lodge was then converted into the Hall that stands today.
Wood Norton played host to many noble guests from around the world, culminating in the wedding of the Princess Louise of Orleans (Grandmother of the present King Juan Carlos of Spain) and Prince Charles of Bourbon in 1907. The Duc had a wooden chapel erected specifically for the ceremony, however, amidst all of the excitement the license for the chapel was forgotten so the actual ceremony took place in Evesham!
Sold by the family in 1911, the estate then had a sucesssion of owners until acquired by the BBC in 1939. Established as an emergency broadcasting base, Wood Norton had become the largest broadcasting centre in Europe by the beginning of 1940 with an average output of 1,300 programmes a week.
It was the home of the BBC’s monitoring service from 1939 until 1943, when monitoring moved to Caversham Park. The move was made to release space at Wood Norton so that it could become the BBC’s main broadcasting centre, should London have to be evacuated. A major fire during the war destroyed the Halls’ upper storeys.
After the war, Wood Norton became the home of the BBC Engineering Training department. During the Cold War, it was designated as the broadcasting centre in the event of a nuclear attack.
Wood Norton was used for some of the filming of the Doctor Who serial Spearhead from Space and it was later used for all of the location filming for another Doctor Who series Robot.
Wood Norton enjoyed a multi-million pound refurbishment by the BBC in 1995 and opened as a luxury 45 bedroom Hotel and Conference Centre. It was subsequently sold by the BBC in 2001 and has been in private ownership since this time.