Myself and my family have been visiting National Trust places for years so naturally we have been to most of the houses and estates that are nearby my house in Oxfordshire. One place I haven’t been to in a very long time is actually outside of Oxfordshire, in Warwickshire. Unfortunately the manor wasn’t open but as the weather was really good we decided to head over to explore Charlecote Park.
Although the estate has been owned by the Lucy family since the 13th Century, Sir Thomas Lucy only began building the present house in 1551, completing it in 1558. Nowadays the house has more of a Victorian style, due to the extensive renovations made by the young bride of George Hammond Lucy, Mary Elizabeth. She also rebuilt the parish church that can be seen on outskirts of the estate, nearby the visitors car park. Throughout the estate are large sections of woodland, the river Avon, river Dene, and grass land which surround the house and gardens. Grazing Jacob sheep were brought to the estate in 1756, and were the first flock in the country. Fallow deer have been in the park since Tudor times, and can still be seen wandering through the grass land. Minor adjustments to the estate were started by ‘Capability’ Brown in 1757, with major changes occurring in 1760.
After parking in the visitors car park, we crossed the road and headed through a traditional oak gate and fence which encloses the park. We decided to spend some time walking around the estate before visiting the gardens and out buildings, starting off by heading left towards the parish church. The nearby airport gave a constant supply of beautiful new and old fashioned small aircraft flying over the estate before landing.
I really enjoyed exploring the grounds, especially getting to see the fallow deer and Jacob sheep up close. Following the paths around the back of the house, there are beautiful views over the river Avon, river Dene, nearby churches and woodland. William Shakespeare is even said to have been caught poaching deer here in 1583!
We then headed up into and explored the gardens surrounding the house. I particularly enjoyed looking at a small woven house and old bird house which contained a display for Christmas.
The orangery restaurant is also found here, which offers beautiful views across the gardens and house. Although the main house wasn’t open when we visited, out buildings nearby were open for exploring so we headed there when we were finished. The wash house, brew house, carriage collection and kitchen were all really interesting especially watching one of the volunteers making lemon curd over the stove.
The house is really beautiful; covered in traditional windows, stone carved plaques, lots of stone chimneys and a matching gate house at the end of the courtyard. I would really love to come back and visit when it is open, as even the small glimpses of the house you get from the kitchen are great to see. I especially enjoyed the bells in the hallway to alert the servants to any room that needed assistance in the house.
I really enjoyed visiting the park and I would definitely love to come back again when the house is open. Although I have read a bit about the history of the estate it would be great to explore the house and learn more about the Lucy family and Charlecote itself. When I visited there were only a few volunteers demonstrating what life was like at Charlecote during Victorian times, so with the house open hopefully there would be more around. The only drawback of visiting is how long it takes to get there from my house, but it is definitely worth it even just for the estate!
A Day in the Life…