Any triangular building would merit a second glance; this one may be worth a short visit for those able to make the journey. It certainly takes its triangular theme very seriously.
Completed in 1596, it was the lodge, or folly, belonging to Rushton Hall, Northamptonshire, UK. At this time the Hall was the home of the Tresham family. The lodge was used by the rabbit warrener1 and the owner, Sir Thomas Tresham, possibly used it as a place to entertain guests or meditate.
The base of the building is an equilateral triangle. There are three floors with three windows to each floor. On the top of each wall are three gables.
The windows contain triangles, crosses and trefoils and around the building are numbers, Latin inscriptions and sculptures which represent biblical themes, Bible verses and the families of Tresham and his wife, Meriel Throckmorton.
The Elizabethans loved codes and hidden meanings. Many of the codes on the Triangular Lodge have been explained (some have more than one meaning) but some remain a mystery and can only be speculated upon.
Inside the building are three hexagonal rooms, each with three triangular rooms leading off them. It is believed that the rabbit warrener stored equipment and rabbits in the basement and lived in the other two rooms; however a second, less elaborate warrener's lodge was built nearby and after that the Triangular Lodge may only have been used by Sir Thomas and his guests.
The Architect and Owner
Thomas Tresham was a Roman Catholic living in a Protestant country. Along with others who shared his faith, he was often made to give money to the crown and also spent time in prison. Tresham's son, Francis, would later be a member of the gang who tried to blow up the Palace of Westminster in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Intriguingly it was Francis's note to a relative advising him not to go to the Houses of Parliament that day which led to the plot being uncovered. Francis died in prison before he could be executed.
The Tresham family name lives on in Northamptonshire in the multi-campus Tresham Institute of Higher and Further Education. Tresham also started the unfinished Lyveden New Bield, a lodge belonging to a second manor house he owned at Lyveden. This lodge signifies the passion of Christ and is now owned and maintained by the National Trust. Tresham also built the Market House in Rothwell, Northamptonshire, which contains inscriptions and trefoils but no religious symbols.
The Trinity and other Themes
Tresham built the triangular lodge as a testament to his faith: the theme of 'three' representing the Christian Holy Trinity of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The three walls are each 33 feet wide (Jesus Christ was 33 when he was crucified).
Tresham's family coat-of-arms included a trefoil, which was a pun on the family name and usefully also had three sides, which meant it could be used to great symbolic effect in the decoration of the lodge.
Tresham also sneaked in coded references to the Virgin Mary and the Catholic Mass. The religious mood of the country at the time meant he couldn't make open reference to these, although the main theme of the Trinity was acceptable. A report of the period suggests that Catholics may occasionally have held clandestine Masses in the lodge.
Visiting the Lodge
The lodge is situated on an unclassified road west of the village of Rushton, on the way to Desborough. Travelling from Rushton it is on the left hand side of the road shortly after the end of a long wall which once marked the boundary of the Rushton Hall estate.
The building is managed by English Heritage and is open from April to October2. There is a small lay-by opposite the lodge where visitors can park. Members of English Heritage do not have to pay an entrance fee. There is a small shop in the grounds but no other facilities.