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Wilson Building to Horlock Building

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Historical postcard image of Walton Hall.
Image : Postcard image of Walton Hall
Date: 1906
Clip: Construction of the OU Campus
Duration: 00:04:52
Date: 1982

8. Walton Hall

In 1201 Walton appears in records as an estate, consisting of land that had been taken from the Bow Brickhill Parish. The earliest owners are believed to have been the Rixbauds around 1200.

The earliest surviving part of Walton Hall, the rear red brick portion, was built in the 1690s by the Gilpin family. They bought the Hall from the Beale family but sold it after a few years to London lawyer Sir Thomas Pinfold (1638-1701). The Pinfolds chose to live in nearby Walton Manor while most of Walton Hall was rebuilt. The front white square part of the Hall was built by Thomas' grandson and subsequent owner of the Hall, Captain Charles Pinfold (c.1777-1857), in 1830. 

In the early 1900s the Hall was sold to Dr Vaughan Harley, a Professor of Medicine and member of the family that gave its name to Harley Street in London. Dr Harley's eldest daughter Diana and her husband, Brigadier Eric Earle, were the last family to live there.

During the latter part of the Second World War the Hall was used to house forty WRNS who worked at Bletchley Park. The Earles moved into the nearby Walton Lodge cottage during the war. The Brigadier died in 1965 and the Hall was briefly occupied by the Milton Keynes Development Corporation Planning and Architect's Offices.

By November 1968 Walton Hall had been identified as a potential site for the new Open University through the offices of Lord Campbell of Eskan, the chairman of the Milton Keynes Development Corporation. On 1st April 1969 building work began to incorporate the new staff and the move from Belgrave Square in London to Milton Keynes took place in October of that year.

In 1970 Lord Mountbatten officially opened the first new buildings on the campus.

The video shows early footage of Walton Hall and construction work on the campus, and the opening ceremony with Lord Mountbatten. The first image on this page shows a historical photograph of the Hall from a postcard c.1900. The second is a photograph from 2011. 

Further information about how and why Walton Hall was chosen to house The Open University, and the University's links with Milton Keynes, can be found in the Milton Keynes online exhibition.

A video about the architecture and history of Walton Hall by Open University Professor Elizabeth McKellar can be viewed on the Open Arts Archive.

A video about the history of Walton Hall with Karen Foley and Daniel Weinbren from The Open University is available on YouTube. Also in this series of short programmes is a short video about the Cellar Bar in the cellar of Walton Hall.

Wilson Building to Horlock Building (page 2 of 5)