Exton Park is a large traditional English country estate that has been the home of the Noel family (the Earls of Gainsborough) for over four hundred years. The park has existed since the 12th century and has been visited by many famous people including Shakespeare and Handel who put on performances in the gardens of Exton.
Within the Park on the western shore of the Upper Lake stands Fort Henry built for Henry Noel, 6th Earl of Gainsborough (after whom the building is named) by William Legg of Stamford between 1786 and 1789. The lake was used by the Noels for the re-enactment of naval battles, at that time. Fort Henry, designed in the latest ‘gothic style’, was a place where the Noels could entertain their guests and was used to celebrate family births, birthdays and marriages.
The Old Hall was lived in until 1810, when there was a serious fire destroying the South East wing. The present house dates from a William and Mary farmhouse which the whole new hall was built around. John Linnell Bond made alterations to that house in 1811 and it was almost quadrupled in size in 1850; the architect was C.A. Buckler.
The mid 19th. Century brought many changes to Exton with the conversion to Catholicism of the Earl of Gainsborough in 1851. Between 1868-1869 a large Chapel was added to the East end of Exton Hall, and a private Chaplain was appointed.
In 1986 the collection of family archives was discovered whilst building work was taking place at the Hall. These papers filled approximately 450 archive boxes dating back to the twelfth century. They have since been meticulously catalogued by the Record Office for Leicestershire where they are now searchable online.