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.
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.
Private. This 17th century manor house has been restored and furnished as it as in 1645 when occupied by Colonel Edward Pritchard. A guided tour is conducted by actors playing the parts of some of Pritchard’s servants and explaining the history and contents. They talk in period language and the presentations are often very amusing. In the courtyard area there is a pleasant restored garden.
Tree ring dating suggests a date for the house of between 1548-1565. It was built to be defensible with walls 4 feet thick, and access between floors was by stairs within the walls. In 1628 the Grand Staircase was added and two rooms panelled. Some passages and stairs have been walled up, so there are more windows visible outside than inside. King Charles I visited the manor late in the Civil War, for discussions with Colonel Pritchard, but the Colonel later declared for Parliament.
The garden is a reconstruction of what might have been there originally.
Don’t miss the excellent exhibition contained in several rooms next to the modern reception area.
Newton House at Dinefwr, and Dinefwr Castle. National Trust.
The Gothic-style mansion is a recent NT acquisition with some elegant ground floor rooms having fine ceilings, and a grand staircase. The first floor rooms are set up as exhibition rooms displaying a collection of objects found during restoration of the house. One exhibition features ‘125 objects from Dinefwr’ including things found under the floorboards.
Externally the house has an odd look with four square corner towers, a nineteenth century addition.
The house is set in an extensive park, including a deer park, woods and with the ruined Dinefwr Castle on a hilltop. White cattle, famous for having a long association with the area, can be seen in the park. Various walks are available. The old castle can be reached by a 20-minute walk uphill through woods, and is worth the effort as substantial walls and towers remain. The castle is thought to have been built by Rhys ap Gruffydd, king of Deheubarth. The castle changed ownership a number of times but fell into disrepair after Newton House was built around 1600.
This is not really a castle, but a mansion with a castellated Gothic appearance. Now a privately owned hotel and wedding venue, it was formerly the home of the famous opera singer Adelina Patti, who bought the house and greatly extended it, being responsible for its present appearance.
The Gothic core of the mansion was built in 1841-3 for Mr Rice Davies Powell. Adelina Patti acquired the property in 1878 and had various extensions built. The most notable feature is a small theatre which Patti had built. The theatre was completed in 1891 and is still almost entirely original, with a tilt-able floor and the original flats behind the stage curtain. The attractive conservatory has been reconstructed using the original cast-iron columns, and various rooms on the ground floor have been refurbished, some of them very grand. Some bedrooms are available and a few can be seen on the tour, but the upper floors (included in the tour) were derelict at time of visit and remain a work-in-progress.
After Patti’s death, the property was purchased by the Welsh National Memorial Association and used as a hospital for many decades. When this ceased, the property passed into private hands and is currently a hotel and wedding venue.
Some relics of the hospital period remain upstairs. In the cellars a clutter of objects, cables and pipes of various periods are visible in rooms formerly used as the mansion’s service area.
One could say this is an unusual visit but worth a look if you are in the area.
Tredegar House was built from 1664-74, largely replacing an earlier Tudor house of grey stone. It was built by William Morgan, one of the powerful Morgan family who owned the house until the 1940s. The principal state rooms on the ground floor are the New Hall, Dining Room and Gilt Room. On the first floor are various suites including the Best Chamber, the King’s Room ( not actually used by a king) and the Master’s Bedchamber. Descending again, one can visit the basement area, with the bells passge, butler’s room, Great Kitchen, Pastry Room, Housekeeper’s Room, Still Room and the Servant’s Hall. The latter is in the old part of the house. In the centre os a courtyard (currently out of bounds to visitors because of objects falling from above.)
A fine set of gates face the entrance front of the house, and nearby is a stable block and orangery (currently under restoration.)