Fire up the camper! With less than a month until the festival season kicks off it was time to give Gilbert his first run of the year and, with the Easter Holidays over & the kids safely back at school, a National Trust visit was well overdue.
Today's destination was Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire.
Hanbury Hall was built in 1710 as a holiday home for millionaire lawyer and Whig MP for Worcestershire, Thomas Vernon (1654 -1721). The architect remains unknown.
The garden, including this splendid parterre, was designed by George London, who served his apprenticeship at the Palace of Versailles (and can't you tell?) However the rigid formality of the Baroque style of gardening soon fell out of fashion and the original parterre was grassed over until its restoration in 2006.
Hanbury Hall's pride and joy is the magnificent art by English painter James Thornhill (1676 - 1734) who was also commissioned to paint the dome of St Paul's Cathedral, Chatsworth House and the Royal Hospital at Greenwich. In 1720 he became the first British artist to be knighted.
Renowned for historical subjects, Thornhill's theme for Hanbury Hall was the life of Achilles.
He wasn't familiar with the cyclops, painting them with three eyes.
Thornhill was a testy character by all accounts and liked using his work to poke fun at people who'd pissed him off. The housekeeper who'd moaned about him making a mess was reduced to a cartoon on a cherub's handkerchief whilst Sarah (one of Winston's lot) Churchill's face was painted on to Achilles' body in the scene below (he's the chap in the red cloak, masquerading as a peddler).
Meanwhile poor old Henry, heavily in debt, sold off the entire contents of Hanbury Hall, locked the house up and moved to Shropshire becoming a farmer under an assumed name. Shortly afterwards he bigamously married Sarah, the 16 year-old daughter of the pig farmer next door. On obtaining a divorce in 1791 his true identity was revealed, he legitimately married Sarah and they moved to Burghley House in Lincolnshire, his family seat. Sarah failed to adapt to the role of mistress of a great estate and is rumoured to have taken to drink and drugs, dying at the age of 22.
On Henry's death in 1804 Emma moved back into Hanbury Hall where she spent the reminder of her days with her third husband. She died in 1818 and is said to haunt the property.
Hanbury Hall remained scandal free until Sir Bowater George Vernon (1865 - 1940) came along. Known as George he was veteran of the Boer War and not keen on the stifling way of life of the British gentry, first settling in Jamaica and eventually owning a ranch in Argentina. On the annual boat journey home he met a woman some 25 years his junior, married her and settled in Worcestershire. Upon his parents' death he moved into Hanbury Hall, sacked all the male staff and replaced them with a team of attractive young women.
George and his now-estranged wife had no children so he adopted 15 year-old Ruth Powick, one of Hanbury Hall's parlour maids who later became estate secretary. In 1940, George was 75 and suffering from advanced throat cancer. One morning he ordered the servants into the garden, went to the bedroom and got out his old service revolver and I'm pretty sure you can guess the rest. He left his fortune to Ruth and bequeathed Hanbury Hall to the National Trust.
Hanbury Hall is described as an intriguing example of the English-Baroque and considered to be fairly modest and restrained compared to many houses built around this time. Whilst it was still very grand we both thought it felt wonderfully welcoming and cosy.
This beautiful painting and the photograph below are of George's mother, Lady Georgina Vernon (1840 - 1928). She set up the local Red Cross, won awards for bee keeping and loved art. The photograph below was taken on her fiftieth wedding anniversary.
|The ladies' lounge. There was once a James Thornhill painting on the ceiling but some rich idiot had it painted over during a refurb!|
|What a reception area!|
We saw sheep and ducks (exciting for urbanites like us!)
Although I'm not a fan of the rigid formality so fashionable in the early 18th Century the gardens were still pretty impressive, although the inky sky looked very ominous.
The orchard was in full bloom.
I've no idea why this is called Snob's Tunnel. The roof was so low even short-arsed me had to crouch.
The orangery was closed for maintenance work but we managed a sneaky peep through the windows. Those oranges and lemons smelt gorgeous.
We loved Hanbury Hall, hope you did, too!
Hanbury Hall, School Road, Hanbury, Worcestershire, WR9 7EA
|I was glad of the crazy yeti coat I found in a charity shop for £4 on Wednesday!|
If you've got one, enjoy your long weekend.
See you soon!