In the next riveting instalment of the expedition that Liam and I went on to Wales, we stopped off at Hanbury Hall, primarily to get value from my membership. Not that I would have paid to go in at £13 per person, or £14.30 if Gift Aided, but that’s a different matter.
The building seems well proportioned to my non-architecturally minded eye, looking rather beautiful in the sunny weather.
The entrance to the property, which has a date of 1701 visible above the door, but that’s a made up addition from the Victorian period. It was probably finished in 1706 and replaced Spernall Hall which was previously on this site.
Ooh, books. Not quite as decadent as the selection at Blickling Hall, but still plenty of interesting titles.
I can’t actually remember why I was taking photos of the bookshelves.
I’m not really into interior design and don’t subscribe to Homes and Gardens, but I liked this room, very peaceful.
I’m sort of pleased that the National Trust put up a sign about this painting, as it is more complex than it at first appears. It was painted in 1836 and is of Thomas and Harry Vernon, painted as girls to prevent them from being kidnapped and ransomed. I must admit I’m not entirely convinced by this, there were child abductions in the early nineteenth century, but documents such as https://www.jstor.org/stable/41999356 don’t suggest they were wealthy children being pinched. Indeed, I’m suspicious enough to suggest that the National Trust have made this up, as breeching is well documented and I’ve never seen kidnapping having been given as a reason.
Another view of the same room, it’s clear this was my favourite in the house. The National Trust took over the property in 1953 and after some work was done on the house, it was primarily rented out as private apartments. I’m sure that it must have been a grand place to live, but it has now been fully opened up to the public.
I was less interested in this room. But Liam and I were amused to hear a child complain that they were bored and wanted to leave, with the parents saying “there’s just a few more rooms left to look in”. The child had at that stage only been in two rooms, so I’m not sure that a future in historical properties is beckoning.
Liam in a room, the details of which I’ve forgotten.
They’ve gone to some effort with the staircase, with the painter being James Thornhill, in whose studio William Hogarth was a student.
I’m not convinced that this is entirely comfortable and it all feels a bit excessive, but each to their own.
There’s some work going on at the site at the moment with the construction of a new restaurant, with these being some of the artefacts (if you can call them that) that they’ve found. The National Trust have been keen to push on with the work as visitor numbers to the property have continued to rise, so the facilities need to be improved.
The engineering project going on, I think this was Liam’s favourite part of the visit.
The effort made to use bricks that will fit in.
They’re going to unblock this archway which seems like a good idea.
I’m always pleased to see a bit of Hogarth.
One final bedroom to visit before our tour of the house was complete. The volunteers were friendly and engaging during the visit, but they were kept busy as there was a constant flow of visitors. Unusually for a National Trust property, visitors could walk around the rooms in whatever order they wanted, there wasn’t a directional flow that had to be followed.
A rather pleasant view from the window of the bedroom. The gardens had been left to go to rack and ruin since the grand days when they were laid out by Capability Brown, but work started to restore them in the 1990s and they look suitably grand again now.
Another photo of the construction work and although it was Friday, there wasn’t much going on.
The National Trust are certainly spending some money on gardeners, everything is immaculate.
Less money has been spent on the window closing mechanism, which looks more like I’ve been put in charge of it.
Liam took the opportunity to get an ice cream.
And a little collection of photos of the gardens and the exterior of the house. It was pleasant to have a little meander around the house and gardens for an hour or so, although we were getting towards closing time and so we didn’t have much more time. It’s well reviewed on-line, with the majority of the grumbles seemingly being the cheap Christmas decorations they used a couple of years ago. I’m in agreement with those reviews, there’s no need for Christmas decorations when you have such a grand house to show off.
Properties like this are fortunate to survive, there was a period in the early twentieth century when so many of these glorious residential buildings were pulled down to avoid paying death duties. The owners of Hanbury Hall have had to sell their furniture on more than a couple of occasions, but the building itself has remained intact. One of those instances was in 1935 when Sir George Vernon refused to pay the tithe dues and his items of furniture was seized and sold by public auction at the hall. He was the President of Worcestershire Tithe Payers Associations and I’m sure he was pleased at the passing of the Tithe Act in the following year.
Anyway, it was all rather lovely to have a quick visit to the house, before we started on the drive to Gloucester (we do eventually get to Wales).