Harlington Manor, Beds

Privately Owned
Harlington Manor was built as a hall house, perhaps in the late 14th century, but was altered or extended in the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th centuries and in 1937. Originally timber framed, it is now clad in brick. Internally it contains Tudor work, a late Restoration dining room, old fireplaces and some fine paneling. John Bunyan was interrogated and imprisoned here, and Charles II visited. There are some interesting contents. The house has pleasant gardens adjacent, and in the entrance yard stands a barn with some very old timbers.
The house is definitely worth a visit. I visited under the Invitation to View scheme, which includes tea and cakes, but you can also get Bed and Breakfast there.
The house is easy to find, as its boundary wall faces the war memorial at a crossroads in the middle of the village.

Rippington Manor, Beds

Privately Owned
The H-shaped Tudor manor house is built on monastery remains recorded in the Domesday book, and remarkably complete. The building is timber-framed but was encased in brick in 1645. It was at one time the home of Sir Charles Caesar and his son Julius, Master of the Rolls. By grand house standards the house is small and compact, and all the rooms are of a domestic scale. The ground floor has flagstone floors, beamed ceilings, a very early fireplace, an excellent collection of paintings and objets d’art, collection of tea caddies. The upper floor has finely decorated bedrooms and study, with many silhouettes. A barn in the grounds houses a small art gallery with paintings for sale. Pleasant gardens slope down to a long pond.
I visited Rippington Manor under the ‘Invitation to View’ scheme. Tea and coffee with sandwiches and cakes were included. I had trouble finding the correct Church Street with sat-nav and would suggest taking along a note of directions from the main road running through the village. The Manor is next to the church.

Corsham Court, Wiltshire

House front Privately Owned
Corsham Court dates from 1582, and was bought by Sir Paul Methuen in the mid 18th century to display his celebrated collection of 16th and 17th century Old Master paintings. A second collection was added through inheritance in the mid 19th century. The house was extended to accommodate the paintings using as architect Capability Brown, who also designed the gardens and park. The interiors retain many original features including plasterwork, wall hangings and furniture by Chippendale, Thomas Johnson, etc. The paintings include works by Van Dyck, Carlo Dolci, Fillipo Lippi, Salvator Rosa, Reynolds and Romney.
Surrounding the park today are the impressive gardens designed by Capability Brown and including a Gothic bath-house, a 13 acre lake and a ha-ha.
Bath Spa University uses parts of the house and grounds.
Free parking is available outside the house next to the church. The house and gardens are opened frequently throughout the year, in the afternoon. A curator and room guides are available to answer questions.

Surviving Nash outbuilding
Surviving Nash work
Gardens
Gardens
Peacock in garden
Peacock
Bath house folly
Bath house

Thorn house & gardens, Devon

Thorn house front
Unassuming frontage

Historic Houses Association, privately owned, limited access
Access to Thorn is mainly by the ‘Invitation to View’ scheme.
Thorn is near the village of Wembury, on a spectacular site on the banks of the river Yealm. The estate has had a variety of owners. The Corys added a ballroom and billiard room (now vanished) for their royal and noble guests. In 1920 the estate was bought by William Arkwright, former owner of Sutton Scarsdale Hall in Derbyshire, who renamed it from South Wembury House to ‘Thorn’.
The present building at Thorn dates from the 19th century and the Corys but a much older building once stood on the site as evidenced by the Tudor cellars.
Arkwright started development of the gardens, and this work was continued by the next owner, Mrs Sebag-Montefiore. The present owners have lived here since 1981.
The house has three grand rooms downstairs, with interesting furniture and art. The gardens are terraced and extend along a steep hillside. They contain many trees including rhododendrons, camellias, azaleas and eucalyptus. The gardens are well worth seeing.
My visit was hosted by the enthusiastic owner, Eva Gibson, and was very enjoyable, lasting for around four hours. Details of how to access the property were provided on booking via ‘Invitation to View’.
Surprisingly, the house is listed on Air B+B.
More pictures are on the Thorn website.
View from front yard
Amazing view

Caerhays Castle, Cornwall.

Castle front Privately Owned
Caerhays Castle is situated near a beach not far from the village of St Michael Caerhays, south of St. Austell. The castle was designed by John Nash and built in the Georgian period. Its owner went bankrupt and to pay creditors the contents of the house were dispersed in a great auction, and even the lead from the roofs was sold, leaving the building derelict. Some decades later the wreck was bought by the Williams family who restored it, giving it Victorian interiors and starting to create the gardens. The gardens contain plants imported from various parts of the world, including rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas, which make a fine show in the spring.
From a distance, the castle looks as if it contains a vast number of rooms, but Nash’s castellated design conceals various service courtyards so the number of habitable rooms is in fact more modest.
Parking is in the beach car park and there is a stiff walk up to the house (except for disabled, who can park at the house). Caerhays is accessed through a maze of minor roads.
The house contains some fine interiors, including a circular (tower-shaped) drawing room. Admission to the house is by conducted tour and as numbers on the tours are limited, booking well in advance by telephone is advised. The gardens are a major attraction and well worth a visit. Note that the house opening dates and garden opening dates are not the same.

Flowering shrubs
Gardens
Flowering shrubs
Gardens
Flowering shrub
Gardens
Flowering shrub close-up
Gardens

Launceston Castle, Cornwall

Castle from below
English Heritage
Originally a Norman castle, the castle was rebuilt in stone in the 12th century, and substantially rebuilt by Richard of Cornwall from 1227, including a high central tower inside the circular wall on top of the mound.
Richard’s son moved the administration elsewhere and the castle became partially disused and ruinous. Parts continued to be used for assizes and a prison. It was occupied during the civil war and afterwards stripped for building materials. Parts were used as a prison till 1842, and the site was used as a base during WWII.
The outlines of buildings in the lower bailey can be seen in the grass. Parts of the keep and walls still stand, and the inner tower can be climbed.
The castle is well worth a visit if you are in Launceston.
The castle is on an elevated site in the middle of the town. Parkng is available in pay car parks.

Lawrence House Museum, Cornwall

Lawrence House front The museum is housed in an 18th century house owned by the National Trust and leased to the Launceston council for a local museum. It contains a variety of exhibits on three floors. Exhibits range from paintings through a model of the former railway station, the Victorian kitchen, a room about the astronomer John Couch Adams, period dresses, a toy room, to a polyphon, a forerunner of the jukebox.
Well worth a visit. Free admission, donations welcomed.

Lacock, Wiltshire

South front of abbey
National Trust
The pretty village of Lacock is managed by the National Trust. On it edge is Lacock Abbey and gardens. The Abbey was the home of pioneering photographer William Henry Fox Talbot, who is jointly credited with the invention of photography. The Abbey was built as a nunnery, housing a community of nuns led by Ela, countess of Shreswbury. After the dissolution, it came into the hands of William Sharington, who demolished the abbey church but retained the cloisters, converting the upper part into a dwelling by adding partitions. Despite later alterations, various medieval vaulted rooms and walkways still survive, notably in the lower parts of the building.
The Hall, built in a Gothick style, dates from the 18th century and contains terracotta statues set in niches on the walls.
The kitchen dates from the medieval period, with later alterations and fittings. Also downstairs can be found original encaustic tiles, and the only manuscript book to have survived from a pre-dissolution English abbey.
The service court houses an interesting Tudor brewhouse.
Beside the reception building is a museum of photography.
Well worth a half-day visit.

vaulted Warming House
Warming House
Original tiles
Original tiles
Cloister vault
Cloister vault
Cloister
Cloister
Kitchen cabinet with list
Kitchen cabinet
Table support figure in tower
Table support
South Gallery
South Gallery
Dining Room
Dining Room
Hall with statues
Hall

Sutton Scarsdale Hall, Yorkshire

Back of Hall
Back of Hall
English Heritage
The house stands at the edge of the small village of Sutton Scarsdale, on top of a hill.
The present house, the fourth to stand on the site was built in 1724-29. It contains elements of the earlier houses. In 1919 the house was sold off and bought for architectural salvage, being stripped of all moveable parts including the roof. Some room interiors ended up in America and were used as movie sets.
Before 1919 the house, as shown in surviving photographs, had impressive interiors and plasterwork. Today it is a sad-looking ruin in need of stabilisation. None of the internal walls retain plaster other than a few fragments of fine moulded plasterwork in the principal rooms.
No trace of the gardens remains.
A church stands a few feet from the house. Apparently the church is still in use.

Visiting – you can park behind the house after driving down a lane. There is no charge, but when I visited the house was surrounded by Heras fencing and there was aluminium scaffolding inside the walls, restricting views.

Nostell Priory & Parkland, Yorkshire.

Nostell east front National Trust
Nostell Priory was built in the 18th century on the site of an earlier house. Nothing of the medieval priory now remains. The house has a symmetrical plan with a colonaded extension to one side. The kitchen block is set back and connected by a link corridor. Entry is into the lower hall, dimly lit and filled with dark furniture. The formal rooms are all on the floor above.
Outside, a large stable block houses the usual visitor facilities. Passing through the stable block you can access the rose garden and the former walled garden, and the lakeside walks. The lakes are beautiful. Note that the paths do not allow a complete circuit of either of the lakes. In front of the house is extensive parkland.

Visiting – there is a £3 parking charge for non members of the National Trust. There are entrance charges for the house and rear gardens. There is no charge for entry to the parkland or stable block.

Stable block
Stable block

Upper lake
Upper lake
North end with extension scar
North end with extension scar
Lower lake
Lower lake
Rose Garden
Rose Garden
Stairwell
Stairwell
Top Hall
Top Hall
Crimson Room
Crimson Room
State Bedroom
State Bedroom