It has been a long time since my last blog post and having left Cardiff and moved to Birmingham which is closer to considerably more historical houses, I have had the opportunity to visit a number of places in the last few months, the latest being Charlecote Park in Warwickshire.
A Little History
The house at Charlecote Park dates back to the mid 16th Century built by Thomas Lucy I after inheriting the estate, which had been held by the Lucy family since the late 12th Century. Upon it’s completion around 1558 it was one of the first great Elizabethan houses, and within 20 years, played host to Queen Elizabeth I who stayed for two days en route from Kenilworth Castle where she visited Robert Dudley. A few short years later, legend has it that young William Shakespeare was caught poaching on the Charlecote estate and as a result of this run in, based two of his characters on Sir Thomas Lucy; Justice Shallow in the Henry IV Part II and the Merry Wives of Windsor.
Over the next several hundred years the estate passed to other members of the Lucy family before being inherited by George Hammond Lucy in 1823 who along with his wife Mary Elizabeth Lucy embarked on a restoration project which stripped away Georgian additions and restoring it to an Elizabethan appearance and adding the service wing and extending the rear of the house to add the Library and Dining Room we see today.
Charlecote Park was gifted to the National Trust in 1946 by Montgomerie Fairfax-Lucy and the Lucy family still reside at the property in the south wing.
The House and Gardens
The Great Hall
The first room you enter when visiting Charlecote Park is the Great Hall.
The Great Hall is one the rooms renovated by George and Mary Elizabeth in the Elizabethan Revival style, including adorning the walls and ceiling in painted plaster, and decorating with Tudor roses and heraldic imagery. The Great Hall is also home to paintings of various members of the Lucy family, busts of Queen Victoria and William Shakespeare.
The Dining Room
Moving on from the Great Hall the first room you’re directed to is the Dining Room
The Dining Room is part of the extension added by George and Mary Elizabeth in the 1830’s and is decorated with gold crimson and blue flock wallpaper with an ornate plaster ceiling in the Jacobean style.
The room has a large bay window (not shown in the picture above) offering views of the parterre garden, River Avon and the deer sanctuary across the river.
Moving on from the Dining Room you enter the next part of the 1830’s extension used as a Library.
The Library is perhaps my favourite room in the house, decorated with wooden panelling, built in bookcases and brown flock on gold leaf wallpaper, with another large bay window overlooking the parterre and deer sanctuary.
The Library is adorned with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth above the chimneypiece, with Charles I, Charles II and James II either side of her.
The Billiard Room
Leaving the Library you enter the Great Hall again, where to the left of you is the Staircase Hall and then the Billiard Room.
The Billiard Room was added when Mary remodelled the North Wing in the 1850s to provide George with what was regarded as necessity for any “self-respecting Victorian country house”. Billiard Rooms were often a masculine in design and decoration and used as a space that men could retire to, it is decorated with a two-tone blue damask wallpaper and portraits of more recent family members from 1758 to the mid 20th Century, with a large billiards table in the middle of the room.
Leading directly on from the Billiard Room you enter the Drawing Room.
The Drawing Room
The Drawing Room at Charlecote Park is a large bright room adorned with amber damask silk wall covering, it was created in it’s current style in the 1850’s when Mary Elizabeth remodelled the north wing. During Queen Elizabeth I’s visit in 1572, it was this area of the house that was used as her bedroom.
The room has portraits of two King Henry VIII and Queen Mary I, following the tudor theme into the Victorian space. As with some of the other rooms, most of the furniture from this room survives from George and Mary Elizabeth’s renovation, including Mary Elizabeth’s harp.
In the corner of the Drawing Room, a turret staircase leads to the first floor where you enter one of 2 bedrooms currently open to the public before heading back down the main staircase
After exploring Charlecote Park, I decided to have a meander around Stratford Upon Avon given it’s short 5 mile distance from Charlecote, I must now plan a full visit to Stratford to visit it’s many attractions including William Shakespeare’s Birthplace, family homes, Trinity Church where he was buried and Tudor World.
As I said at the start of this post I have visited a number of places since moving to Birmingham, these include; Kenilworth Castle, Black Country Museum, Birmingham Back to Backs, Coughton Court, Hanbury Hall, Witley Court, Packwood House and Baddesley Clinton, all of which I will try to write about over the next few months.
- https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/charlecote-park – National Trust Website
- http://www.nationaltrustimages.org.uk/search?term=Charlecote+Park&sort=1 – National Trust Images of Charlecote Park