Fulham Palace Trust
Fulham Palace was formerly the palace of the Bishops of London. The older part of the palace, the Tudor Courtyard, dates from around 1495. In the 1760s the house was remodelled in a Gothic style, with crenellations, but in 1813-30 it was remodelled in a Georgian style.
The last bishop to reside in the palace left in 1973.
Now the site offers a small museum, a number of viewable rooms on the ground floor with good plasterwork ceilings but little furniture, a chapel, shop, and a cafe.
The extensive grounds, originally enclosed by a moat, now filled in, include a walled garden. The site extends alongside the Thames on the west side of Putney Bridge.
If you approach from Putney Bridge tube station you will come to first a church, then an inconspicuous entrance that leads to the east end of the grounds, then a long fenced path that takes you to the main entrance.
Worth a visit if you are in west London.
Admission to the Palace and grounds is free.
The Wake family has owned the Courteenhall estate since the Tudor period, and the current Georgian house was built in 1792 for Sir William Wake, the 9th baronet. It has changed little since then. The house and adjoining outbuildings and stables stand in extensive parkland designed by Humphry Repton. The family has always been involved in the business of farming.
The house has rooms of handsome proportions on the ground floor, with fine plasterwork, filled with good furniture and many beautiful objects collected over the centuries. Family portraits hang in most of the rooms.
In front of the house, to one side is the Arboretum with an attractive rustic pond. Behind the house there is a small formal garden with pool, and the parkland which extends as far as the Church (not part of the estate) and the listed stable block.
I visited Courteenhall on an ‘Invitation to View’ tour (this one for EH members only.) On arrival we were served tea or coffee and a biscuit, and then our host gave us a lively and informative tour of the principal ground floor rooms. Guests were then at liberty to walk around the grounds.
The estate, positioned between the A508 and the M1 near J15, is relatively easy to find, and well worth a visit. Be aware that the town of Roade to the south has a brand-new bypass.
For those interested in the history of the family, a handsome and substantial hardback volume ‘The Wakes of Northamptonshire’ is available for £20 (collected) or £25 with postage.
Ironbridge Gorge is the centre for a number of historic industrial sites (see https://www.ironbridge.org.uk/). With limited time, my intention was to view the famous iron bridge. This structure (recently restored) is impressive and it is possible to park nearby and walk across the pedestrianised bridge and view it from above and below. The picturesque village of Ironbridge is at one end of the bridge, extending along one side of the river and rising steeply away from the river. The ‘Museum of the Gorge’ is in the village within walking distance.
Acton Burnell Castle, actually a fortified manor house, stands near the village of Acton Burnell. It is believed that the first Parliament of England at which the Commons were fully represented was held here in 1283, in the nearby barn. Today all that remains is the outer shell of the manor house and the gable ends of the barn.
The manor house was built in 1284 by Robert Burnell, Bishop of Bath and Wells, friend and advisor to King Edward I. The building was rectangular with a tower at each corner. It was three storeys high consisting of a hall, solar, bedrooms, offices, chapel and kitchen.
Much of the building was demolished by the mid-17th century.
Today what remains looks interesting. Only the shell of the residence is accessible, via a path through a wood.
Your satnav may take you to the entrance of a college. If so, drive through the village till you see the brown signs (same postcode).
Clun Castle was established by the Norman lord Robert de Say after the invasion of England and went on to become an important Marcher-lord castle in the 12th century, defending against the Welsh. It was owned for many years by the Fitzalan family, who gradually abandoned it in favour of the more luxurious Arundel Castle. The Fitzalans converted Clun Castle into a hunting lodge in the 14th century, complete with pleasure gardens, but by the 16th century the castle was largely ruined.
In 1894 the castle was purchased by the Duke of Norfolk, who undertook a programme of conservation to stabilise the castle.
Today the castle is very ruined, with the now three-sided Great Keep, built for the FitzAlan family’s resifential use, being the most complete part. Adjacent platforms, the site of the outer baileys, have no structures above ground. The River Clun loops around the castle far below the mounds.
To visit, you should park in the village and look for the gated lane leading up to the castle.
Stokesay Castle, actually a fortified manor house, was built in the 1280s and early 1290s by fabulously wealthy wool merchant Lawrence of Ludlow. It was intended to keep out robbers rather than withstand a serious seige. The striking timbered gatehouse was built much later, in 1640-41, presumably replacing an earlier stone gatehouse.
During the English Civil War the ‘castle’ was garrisoned by Royalists, who surrendered when a Parliamentary force approached the ‘castle’ in 1645 and issued a summons to surrender.
Stokesay has a number of interesting internal features, including a fine hall roof and an elaborately carved wooden mantelpiece. The nearby church (not English Heritage) is worth a look. The gatehouse has some interesting carvings on the inner side. The great hall has an impressive roof structure. In the so-called Solar block, the solar has an elaborate panelled interior dating from the 17th century, with elaborate carvings of fruit, flowers and figures on the overmantel above the fireplace.
All parts of the castle can be visited, including the roof of the south tower.
Stokesay is well worth a visit.
Not to be confused with the nearby Toddington Manor.
The house had changed hands about two years before the date of my visit. I visited via the HHA’s ‘Invitation to View’ scheme.
The house is early 19th Century with late 19th century additions. The family who built it also owned Toddington Manor at the time. The extensive grounds are attractive. Mostly laid to lawn, they include a pond, a lake and a large number of trees, some of which are rare species. The period features of the house interior were mostly removed by a previous owner in the 1970s, consequently there is very little to see inside other than some attractive cornices. The house tour included only two of the principal rooms, one of which was used to host the afternoon tea. We did have the opportunity to look in the cellars, which contain an impressive array of central heating equipment and pipework. The grounds include an original Victorian dairy.
Our host gave an informative tour of the gardens and a description of the house and its history.
Private. I visited Haughley House under the HHA’s ‘Invitation to View” scheme, where one gets a tour conducted by the owner, plus afternoon tea. The house also operates as a B&B.
The house dates from the 16th century, and the older parts are timber framed, unlike the 18th century extensions. Of particular note are the owners’ collections of fans, antique weaponry and militaria. Other features include include the priest hole in a chimney, two bricked up tunnels and manorial documents on display. There is also a three-acre garden with a walled kitchen garden.
My tour included the ground floor, first floor and a glimpse down into the cellar, and a tour of the gardens.
Externally the house does not look very interesting, but the interiors and contents are of greater interest, and it is worth a visit.
The house (for once) is easy to find, as satnav will take you into the village and you just have to bear right at the small village green and follow the Folly road round till you spot the house sign on the right.
Photography is not permitted on the tour but you can find a gallery of photos on the B&B website.
There is little to see of the nearby castle ruin, as it is on private property and shrouded by trees.
National Trust. Berrington Hall is a substantial Georgian mansion built of sandstone, with attached service wings surrounding a courtyard. Service rooms occupy the basement of the house, and also lie under the service buildings at the sides of the courtyard. A walled garden lies near the house. Further afield one can take walks in the parkland. (This may involve braving a herd of cows). The parkland was designed by Capability Brown.
The house contains some fine ground floor rooms. In the dining room, paintings commemorate the victories of Admiral Rodney, a former occupant of the house. The bedrooms are mostly given over to exhibition space. Notable is an elaborate mantua, or court dress, worn by Ann Bangham, wife of the Hon. Thomas Harley.
In the basement under the house, various servant’s and service rooms can be visited.
National Trust. The present version of the castle was built in the early 17th century in a ‘medieval revival’ style, but has undergone some revisions since, including the demolition of the servants’ wing. The Croft family were forced to sell in 1746 but their trustees repurchased the castle in 1923.
In the late 1580s, the original castle was converted into an Elizabethan house, which was severely damaged during the Civil War. The house was remodelled in a Gothic style in the 1760s by its then owner Thomas Johnes. A lesser remodelling took place in 1913, with changes made to the entrance front and the crenellations. In 1937, a 17th century service wing to the north-west was demolished. In 1957, after fears about demolition, funds were raised for an endowment and the house was donated to the National Trust.
The principal rooms have some fine interiors with furniture and paintings.
The adjacent church is older than the house. The walled garden and glasshouse are also worth a visit. On the wider estate you can find the Fishpool Valley and an ancient hill fort.