The History of Makeney Hall, Derby

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he long history of Makeney Hall Hotel is entwined with the local towns Belper and Milford, and a local family, the Strutt’s, whose influence on the area is still seen in local landmarks such as the Strutt’s North Mill Museum, as well as our very own Strutt House Restaurant.

Jedediah Strutt (1726-1797) along with his sons created their fruitful cotton mill business in 1786, which continued to operate for the next century. In total, the Strutt’s built eight mills, each including worker’s houses that would create one of the world’s first industrial communities. The mills would stay in the Strutt family until they were sold to the English Sewing Cotton Company in 1897. Strutt’s great, great-grandson, George Herbert Strutt, was the first Strutt in generations who would not be directly involved in the family’s mill business, but would instead become a prominent benefactor to the local area

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George Herbert Strutt (1854-1928) married Edith Adele Balguy in 1876 at Dartford in Kent. Their 21-year marriage saw Balguy actively involved in local public life, alongside her husband, who was a notable public figure and benefactor. Strutt was appointed as County Magistrate during their marriage in 1877, giving Balguy the opportunity to be politically involved beside her husband. She was popular and well-loved by the local people of Belper and Milford. Balguy passed away in 1897, after which Strutt provided funds for the Edith Strutt convalescent home at Holbrook.

Strutt then married his second wife, Mary Emily Charlotte Hind in 1898, in Carlisle. That same year, Strutt built Makeney Hall, and the couple started their new life as husband and wife there. Strutt was the district’s greatest benefactor, leading to his appointment as deputy lieutenant of Derbyshire in 1901, and later High Sheriff of Derbyshire in 1903.

Strutt’s influence in the area was due to his generosity and philanthropy work. In 1896, he donated the site for the Conservative Club on Campbell Street. After the selling of the mills in 1897, he was still involved in the company, but much less so, freeing his time to dedicate himself to the local areas. He opened the Belper River Gardens, complete with boating, in 1905. In 1907, Strutt began funding an elementary school for Belper’s (and its surrounding areas) students. The Herbert Strutt School opened in 1909, and continued to donate money to help expand the school’s facilities. Strutt also donated land in 1921 which would create the Memorial Gardens, dedicated to those who died during World War I.

Strutt died from pneumonia at the age of 74 years in Scotland, in 1928. Makeney Hall then went to his oldest son, George Ashton Strutt, and later to George Ashton’s half-brother, Arthur. Makeney Hall was used by the community after it was sold to the Derbyshire Council in 1936, until it closed in 1988.

Makeney Hall was reopened in 1991 after it was purchased by Sonya Belescolko. It is now owned and operated by Uday Pilani, who strives to preserve the history of the grounds while also curating a one-of-a-kind experience for hotel guests.