Stokesay Castle: Gatehouse

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At the time of the compilation of the Domesday Book in 1086, Stokesay formed part of a prosperous estate called Stoches. An Anglo-Saxon word which suggests the presence of a cattle farm, Stoches was held by the Lacy family who became lords of Weobley and Ludlow. The first recorded tenants appear to have built a small keep with an adjacent hall (Jenkins, 2003). Dendrochronological evidence shows that building at Stokesay did not begin until after 1285 when the local wool merchant, Laurence of Ludlow, owned the rights of the manor – purchased some four year earlier. Laurence erected the impressive manor house with crenellated tower and built walls round an inner bailey. His family occupied Stokesay until 1598.

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While Stokesay is a castle in name only, when the antiquary John Leyland passed through Shropshire in 1543 he described it as “buildid like a castel.” The title of Stokesay Castle only became common during the 16th and 17th centuries which no doubt reflected the social pretensions of its owners and as Alec Clifton-Taylor (1986) notes, “a castle was a good address.” Although a stone curtain wall was built to enclose Stokesay, the present gatehouse was not built until 1640. Nothing remains of the original gatehouse which was likely to have been of stone construction (Summerson, 2009). Unique to the Middle Ages, castles, or feudal residences, were more often than not lived in than fought over. Simple gate towers were in use throughout the medieval period, usually as secondary gates, and the ostentatious embellishment of gatehouses had their part to play from the 14th century onwards (Friar, 2003).

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The widow of a former Lord Mayor of London, Dame Elizabeth Craven, purchased Stokesay in 1620. Her son William was a soldier who spent much of his time abroad and he made permanent alterations to the appearance of Stokesay between 1640 and 1641. The gatehouse timbers are dated between 1639-1641 – when William was busy with building work. Given the ornately decorated character, the gatehouse was not concerned with defensibility. The two storey gatehouse is half-timbered and features a central passageway with a studded door. The ground level walls are close studded with the first floor jettied out above. Carved along the lintel above the entrance is the biblical story of the fall of man with the trees of life and the knowledge of good and evil at each end. Adam and Eve appear on the ornately carved brackets flanking the entrance with others exquisitely depicting angels, acanthus leaves and dragons. “A real touch of the Renaissance – what fun those craftsmen had!” (Clifton-Taylor, 1986)

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At some point the gatehouse became a refuge for a coiner and by 1877 there was a caretaker living in the building. When the architectural historian Thomas Hudson Turner visited Stokesay in 1845, he described it as “one of the most perfect and interesting buildings which we possess.” Following the death of Jewell Allcroft in 1992, Stokesay was placed in the guardianship of English Heritage and a four year campaign of restoration got underway.

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Referred to as domus defensabiles in the Domesday Book, fortified homesteads were both a residence and a personal stronghold. The inherent desire to provide a facade with a “satisfying architectural climax” (Friar, 2003) is more than evident at Stokesay. What survives at Stokesay Castle is a remarkable example of a fortified manor house and the “breezy Jacobean gatehouse is a gem” (Jenkins, 2003).

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“I do love these ancient ruins: We never tread upon them, but we set our foot upon some reverend history.” John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi (1612)

The gatehouse is Grade I Listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

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Knowle: Baddesley Clinton

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Badde’s Ley, Badde’s wood or clearing dates back to before the Conquest. The Saxon holder in 1066, Leuvinus, was replaced by the Norman knight Geoffrey de Wirce who was granted the manor by William the Conqueror. Walter de Bisege owned the manor 200 years later and his grand-daughter married Sir Thomas de Clinton – hence where Baddesley Clinton derives. With a number of defensive ditches being dug at the end of the 13th century when the Forest of Arden was being settled, it is likely that the moat at Baddesley dates from this time and that Sir Thomas may have been the first to construct a house on the site of the present building. Through the marriage of Nicholas Brome’s daughter Constance to Edward Ferrers, the Baddesley Clinton estate has passed through 13 generations of the Ferrers family until the mid 20th century. One of the most notable occupants at Baddesley is Henry Ferrers. Nicknamed the Antiquary, Henry was a historian who introduced much of the 16th century heraldic glass and the oak panelling in the Great Hall. The historian William Camden described Henry as “a man both for parentage and for knowledge of antiquary very commendable… who hath at all times courteously shewed me the right way when I was out, and from his candle, as it were, hath lighted mine.” Spending much of his life in historical research, he had planned to complete a history of the kings and queens of England.

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View through the Gatehouse to the 19th century Tudor style service wing

It is believed that there was a manor house on the site from around 1230, shortly after the estate came into the hands of the de Clinton family. Originally comprising a group of buildings surrounded by the moat, the medieval gatehouse would have served as the entrance to the original great hall and would have been a timber framed structure. With little remaining of the original house, the earliest visible elements date from the 15th and 16th centuries. A programme of rebuilding was underway in 1459 when John Brome acquired the manor which included a new L-shaped chamber block, a south-east tower and additional chambers. A new gatehouse range was added by Edward Ferrers during his rebuilding between 1526-1536. Henry Ferrers began a programme of improvements in 1574 which included alterations to the Gatehouse Range (new roof) and the rebuilding of the East Range, new staircases and first floor corridors for increased privacy. During the 17th century, the gatehouse had mullioned and transomed windows installed when a new Great Parlour was created by a rearrangement of the dividing walls over the gatehouse. Domestic gatehouses were not generally defensive in the military sense but gave sufficient protection against bands of marauders and provided a suitable place for the emblems of the owner, founder or patron.

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Often containing closets used as secret hiding spaces, houses of the late 16th century had vaulted cellars and tunnels connected with the sewage. A tunnel some 30 inches wide passes below the west wing at Baddesley which was constructed as a sewer to receive the drainage of the house (Wood, 1994). The level of the moat was raised at intervals to clean it with steps at one end allowing access for a servant to brush it out. During the times of religious persecution, the tunnel was transformed into a hide for Catholic priests by the 16th century architect Nicholas Owen, a specialist in building priest holes. Known as Little John, Owen trained as a carpenter and was a personal servant of Father John Gerard, the Jesuit Superior. With increased financial pressures, Henry Ferrers rented Baddesley out in 1590 to the daughters of Lord Vaux who were ardent Catholics. The Vaux sisters allowed a number of English Jesuit priests to use Baddesley as a base for missionary work and apparently did so without Henry’s knowledge. Following the Act of Uniformity in 1587, it was a treasonable offence to be or to harbour a Roman Catholic priest in your house so the Vaux sisters created a number of hiding places incase Baddesley was visited by the priest hunters. Despite the threat posed by the Act and risking their lives, the servants remained loyal.

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The Great Hall

A room of many uses, the Great Hall (above) was contrived by Henry Ferrers as a reception room and entertainments. Recording the installation of the great carved heraldic chimneypiece on 2nd March 1629, Henry remarks: “Work in the great chamber have finished and set up the chimneypiece… which I like well but the unicorn is not set up for the crest, and is as I think made too big and the horn too big, and too upright, and the eyes ill set and sidelong.” (Tinniswood, 1991) Formal dining took place in the first floor Great Parlour so although the Great Hall was recreated after the medieval fashion, it was quite different in function to other medieval manor houses. William Langland noted the tendency to dine apart in The Vision of Piers Plowman: 

Wretched is the hall… each day in the week

There the lord and lady liketh not to sit;

Now have the rich a rule to eat by themselves

In a privy parlour… for poor men’s sake,

Or in a chamber with a chimney, and leave the chief hall

That was made for meals, for men to eat in…

The great hall usually met several social needs, such as being a point of assembly for tenants, legal and administration purposes and was the main living room for the lord and their family. The central hearth, which necessitated a high roof, was gradually superseded by a wall fireplace, particularly from the 15th century onwards (Wood, 1994). It also became common during Elizabethan times for both the hall and the parlour to be “ceiled” with plastering becoming usual for ornament and effective protection against fire (Summerson, 1953). The fabulous fireplace at Baddesley is finely carved and derives from the printed designs in Sebastiano Serlio’s Five Books of Architecture and was moved to the Great Hall from the Great Parlour in 1572. Thomas Ferrers moved into Baddesey in 1747 and created a central door opposite the chimneypiece and added a plain plaster ceiling in this room. Concealing the 16th century timbers, the fine ceiling was not revealed until after a fire in 1940.

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The Library

The Library (above and below) was adapted from a first floor chamber and was created during the 17th century. In later centuries, this room was a bedroom and became known as the Ghost Bedroom. The fantastic carved overmantel is dated 1634 and was installed by Edward Ferrers. The beautiful oak lectern in the form of an eagle, made from a ship’s figurehead and dating to circa 1800, was introduced by Thomas Ferrers-Walker and his son in the 19th century. Thomas was responsible for recreating the Sacristy and removing an 18th century chimneystack. Thomas and his wife Undine also stripped back the many layers of paint in some of the rooms, repaired timberwork and revealed the ceiling in the Great Hall. Much of the furniture in the room is Georgian and many of the books are concerned with history and genealogy.

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The Library

Adjoining the Great Hall are the Drawing Room (below) and the Dining Room. Rebuilt in around 1790, the Drawing Room features glass, oak panelling and armorial chimneypiece that were re-used from other rooms in the house. One of the stained glass windows in the room is 16th century while the other was introduced in the 1890’s by Rebecca in memory of her two husbands. Rebecca Dulibella Orpen was born in 1830 and lived in County Cork with her aunt Lady Chatterton. The story goes that when the wealthy Edward Dering came to ask permission to marry Rebecca, the 53 year old Lady Chatterton misunderstood and announced to the world that she had accepted his proposal. Apparently too chivalrous to withdraw, Edward did indeed marry Lady Chatterton. Marmion Ferrers, the last Ferrers in the direct male line to live at Baddesley, married Rebecca in 1867. A talented and prolific painter, Rebecca filled the house with family portraits and many views of Baddesley Clinton. These four individuals – Marmion, Rebecca, Lady Chatterton and Edward Dering – became known as the Quartet. Living a “gentle Tennysonian existence” (Musson, 2015), the two inseparable couples restored and refurnished the house, recreated the Chapel and extended the servants wing. Lady Chatterton died in 1876 and following the death of Marmion in 1884, Edward finally married his true love Rebecca in 1885. After Edward’s death in 1892, Rebecca continued to live at Baddesley with her devoted servants until her death in 1923.

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The Drawing Room

After the death of Rebecca, Baddesley Clinton passed to her first husband’s great nephew. Much of the furniture was sold to Baron Ash at Packwood House (also in Warwickshire) as Ferrers relatives struggled to keep the house going. In 1940 the house was sold to Thomas Walker, a relation of the Ferrers family, and in 1980, his son, Thomas Ferrers-Walker, transferred it to the National Trust through National Land Fund procedures. The National Trust opened the house to visitors in 1982 and with the landscape that surrounds this idyllic ancient manor house being recognised for its environmental importance, there is a project supported by Natural England to restore the traditional character of the fields and park. Baddesley Clinton has a fantastic variety of architectural features that reflect both the changing fashions and the uses of this historic manor house.

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South side – the Chapel & Sacristy are located above the 18th century toilet block projection

The writer Fletcher Moss visited Baddesley Clinton following the death of Edward. Noting in Pilgrimages to Old Homes (1912), Fletcher describes the moment he was greeted at the door by a priest in Benedictine dress: “In the quaint epauletted livery of black is a butler whose mien is that of a family servant – not one who is bought with mere wages, but a survival from the days when servants were serfs or chattels, bred and reared on, and part of, the estate.” Speaking of Rebecca, he goes on: “In thorough harmony with the place is the Lady of the Manor, a handsome courteous elderly lady whose time is spent in works of charity, and who comes to say a few words of welcome not only for this day but also for another.”

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Coach House completed in 1714

An illustrated article on Baddesley Clinton appeared in the first issue of Country Life in January 1897. Described as “a truly quaint and beautiful domestic survival of the English country life of the olden time” (Tinniswood, 1991), John Leyland gives the following description of Warwickshire country houses: “mailed knights have dwelt within their walls, fugitives in troublous times have fled to their secret chambers, cavaliers have knocked at their oaken doors.” On arriving at Baddesley, Leyland notes: “About seven miles from Warwick… all amid the silent woods, its grey walls and timber gables reflected in a lake-like moat, stands the old Hall of Baddesley Clinton. Its aspect carries you back hundreds of years. You will readily, if so disposed, conjure up an old-world history when you look at it, and if you have any antiquarian interest – and who has not at least a tinge of it? – you can easily forget for the time that you are living in the Nineteenth century.”

Baddesley Clinton is Grade I Listed.

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East Range containing the Great Hall

Hethersgill: Kirklinton Hall

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Kirklinton lies on what has always been the frontier zone between England and Scotland. Although it is not known what building, if any, stood on the present site in 1660, it is reputed that Edmund Appleby built Kirklinton Hall from the stone of the ruined Levington Castle as early as 1661. Edmund’s son Joseph married Dorothy Dacre of Lanercost and following the death of her brothers, she became a considerable heiress and the couple quartered their arms. Kirklinton Hall remained in the hands of the Dacre-Applebys until the mid 19th century when the Reverend Joseph Dacre sold the manor to the trustees of George Graham. He subsequently took the name of Graham Kirklinton, which became Kirklinton-Saul and by the 20th century, simply Kirklinton. The Hall was let out for much of the interwar period and the estate was sold in 1937. First requisitioned by the RAF for an officer’s mess, towards the end of the war it housed evacuees from Rossall School at Fleetwood. Following the war it was converted into flats which were occupied by servicemen working at Longtown MOD.

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A Mr Caine ran Kirklinton through the 1960’s as The Borders Country Club which was a casino and night club. Attracting gamblers both locally and further afield, the Hall had a glass-floored ballroom, exotic dancers, a first floor casino and bedrooms above. Mr Caine had gangster connections and there were many sightings of the Kray twins. Numerous famous bands and singers of the period performed at Kirklinton Hall but following a change in licensing laws, the casino ceased to be able to operate. Mr Caine abandoned the Hall which subsequently fell into a state of disrepair. An application to demolish the Hall was refused in the early 1970’s despite becoming a roofless ruin.

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Stable Block

Constructed of calciferous sandstone coursed rubble with dressed stone and ashlar, the 17th century house is a single pile three-storey c-shaped building. Featuring a five bay Classically dressed entrance facade, the windows have moulded architraves and full, flat entablatures. Red and buff sandstone appears to have been used decoratively and all the windows throughout the Hall were originally mullioned and transomed in stone. Kirklinton is stylistically attributed to Edward Addison, a pupil of the English architect William Talman. Talman was in the metropolitan circle of Wren and the Board of Works and a mannerism Addison learned from him appears in the frieze of the entablature – rather than being pulvinated or cyma recta, it is cyma reversa. The Hall has a decisive three storey arrangement with the piano nobile emphasised by rendering both ground and second floor windows as square with first floor windows approximately a double square.

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Up for auction in 2012, the opportunity presented itself to Christopher Boyle QC to step in and rescue Kirklinton from development schemes. In 2013, Mr and Mrs Boyle obtained planning permission and listed building consent to restore Edward Addison’s 17th century house. This work has started with the building cleared of rubble and forty year old trees, walls stabilised, outbuildings re-roofed and the restoration of the gardens and grounds.

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At some point prior to 1865, the Hall was doubled in length by the addition to the west of a two storey classical block with twinned curved bays under a ballustraded parapet. The west tower was completely rebuilt to house a grand staircase in what had become the central portion of the house. The gables of the rebuilt tower and the surviving east tower were elaborated with bold Jacobethan details. Above the door and first floor window of the staircase tower are upturned clam or scallop shells (below) which given the similarity, is considered a courteous nod to the Arms of the Dacres.

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The main stable block incorporates a much earlier altered stable and added a Jacobethan block to match the new gables on the Hall. A low single storey wing extends two sides round a cobbled yard and features a two bay carriage house and a boiler house.

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From a state of abject dereliction, the gardens and grounds at Kirklinton are being restored to Organic production. As much a ruin as the Hall, the formal terraces lay buried and invisible beneath grass, brambles and self-sown sycamores. The lawns and Kitchen Garden were high with hogweed and coarse grasses and the 120 yard long 18th century hot wall was decayed. Thankfully, this situation has been transformed. Drawing on contemporary writers such as Francis Bacon, John Evelyn and John Parkinson, the driving philosophy of the restoration seeks to explore and re-capture the 17th century spirit of the garden.

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The principle ‘Dulce et Utile’ (beauty and usefulness) is ingrained in the writing of the time and leads to the creation of a beautiful, yet productive, garden. The gardens at Kirklinton broadly follow their historical form and includes a 17th century style formal terrace which has been restored with English Roses.

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The Faerie Glen is a beautiful woodland walk along the cliff above Longcleughside Beck crossing three footbridges. Leading ultimately to the River Lyne and the Captain’s Seat, this notable local beauty spot is the site of an ancient rock-carved face (below). The legend tells that the carved face is all that remains of Maelgwyn the Fair, a faerie princess that pined away for love of the first de Boyville at Kirklinton.

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I completely disagree with Pevsner’s description of “an all rather bleak indifferent Georgian five bay centre.” The magic of Kirklinton invites you to appreciate this architectural delight where there is intrigue, mystique and beauty. Christopher and Ilona Boyle welcome you to “a place not to be rushed; a place whose special atmosphere needs to be savoured and soak up a little faerie dust.” As Alfred Tennyson wrote in 1849: ” An English home – gray twilight. On dewy pastures, dewy trees. Softer than sleep – all things in order stored, A haunt of ancient peace.” For those who enjoy all things classical, Kirklinton Opera hosts spectacular fully staged classical performances in the covered hall that are not to be missed.

Kirklinton Hall is Grade II Listed.

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Lapworth: Packwood House

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Packwood House is located in the village of Lapworth and has wonderful views of Two Pits Park and 1.5 hectares of formal gardens. The two storey late 16th century house derives its name from the Saxon ‘Pacca’s Wood’ with the earliest mention of the name dating to 1190 when Walter Chaplain of Packwood witnessed a deed. Much of the surrounding land belonged to the Benedictine monks of Coventry but after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530’s, the property changed hands repeatedly. Packwood House was sold to John Fetherston for £340 in 1598. The Fetherston family had been living in nearby Knowle since the 15th century and John is believed to have built the core of the present Packwood, including the tall gables of his new ‘great mansion howse’.

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The inventory made in 1634 suggests that the building was furnished like a prosperous farmhouse. The timber framed building has been covered with cement render since the early 19th century and underwent an extensive restoration programme in 1925-1932. Supervised by Edwin Reynolds, the restoration included alterations to the interior, construction of the single storey Long Gallery and replacement of the 19th century fenestration with timber mullion and transom windows.

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The Hall

The Hall had a light oak balustraded gallery on three sides with a wrought iron chandelier before being substantially altered by Baron Ash in 1931. Characteristic of the Edwardian era, the walls were still pierced with mullioned windows and there was frieze high panelling. During the 20th century renovations, the timber ceiling was inserted, a single gallery of linenfold panelling was built and a new floor of oak from Lymore Park in Montgomeryshire was laid down.

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The Long Gallery

The Long Gallery was created by Baron Ash to join the two Great Halls together. His architect, Edwin Reynolds, had considerable experience of remodelling historic buildings such as Aston Hall and Blakesley Hall. The oak floorboards were taken from Lymore Park and the panelling taken from Shaftsmoor in Hall Green.

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The Long Gallery is embellished with rich tapestries which include The Coronation of Marcus Aurelius and St Remy crowning Charles VII before Joan of Arc. 

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Beautifully detailed 17th century stained glass adorns the windows along the Gallery.

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The Great Hall

The Great Hall was formerly detached from the house and used as a cow-byre and barn. The 17th/18th century barn is linked on the north west corner of the house by the Long Gallery and it took its present form in 1924-1927. A sprung floor for dancing was installed and the hayrack has been adapted into a balustrade for the gallery. The grand oak refectory table measures 6.4 metres long and is the centrepiece of the room. The Jacobean pattern supports are early 17th century and the table was purchased by Baron Ash from Cecil Ferrers at Baddesley Clinton in the mid 1930’s. Pre-war photographs show that the table was previously placed against the tapestries in the Long Gallery. The beautiful exposed roof timbers spring from corbels modelled on originals at Carcasonne in south west France. The Great Hall is surrounded by stunning hanging tapestries some of which depict portuguese scenes, 16th century scenes portraying the story of Saul and a 16th century series from Brussels which were bought from Aske Hall in Richmond.

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The Inner Hall

The Inner Hall is accessed from the west end of the Screens Passage. This was originally the entrance hall until the drive across the causeway in the park was given up in the 19th century. The wonderful original timber framing was revealed when the Edwardian panelling was removed. The room is decorated with mostly 17th century furniture and 17th century Dutch textiles bought from Baddesley Clinton.

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The Study

The Study adjoins the Inner Hall and has original, richly embellished, Jacobean panelling. The fireback is English and dates to 1635.

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The Dining Room

Although the moulded ceiling beams are original, the Dining Room has been much altered. The focal point of the room is the 17th century English oak table with six walnut chairs which date to between 1650-1675.

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Queen Margaret’s Room

Queen Margaret’s Room is named after Henry VI’s Queen who is said to have slept in the bed (above) in 1471 before the Battle of Tewkesbury. The pillars and canopy are upholstered in a light woollen material with red braiding. The bed was bought by Baron Ash at the sale of the contents of Owlpen Manor in Gloucestershire in 1927. The cloth inscription above the bed reads:

“A conservationist and collector. I do this as an antidote to the decay and demolition of so many old houses all over the country. I am rescuing whatever I can from other places and preserving it here. Graham Baron Ash, c1935 “

When the Packwood Conservation and Engagement Team moved the bed, they discovered that at some point in the past, repairs had been made to the head cloth and that to attach it to the frame, the cloth had been stretched around the head posts and stitched to linen tapes nailed to the frame. Before the head cloth and valances were reinstated, they were cleaned and the damage repaired with stitch Velcro along the top edge.

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The Yew Garden, according to legend, represents the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ and are over 350 years old. Part of the ground was originally set out by John Fetherston between 1650 and 1670. The area in front of the house had remained as a lawn since the Second World War and the decision to reinstate this scheme was taken in 2004. The scheme restored the link between the house and the Yew Garden. Work was completed over two winters between 2005 and 2006 and the Breedon gravel paths offer a practical solution to Packwood’s numerous visitor numbers.

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Converted 17th century stables flank the east side of the building and feature an asymmetrical facade with double arched doors, engaged brick piers and stone mullioned windows.

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Packwood House, Barns and Stables are Grade I & Grade II Listed.

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Madingley Hall: Murals Room

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Madingley estate was acquired by Sir John Hynde, the fourth Baronet, in 1543. He began to build a new hall in the same year which he surrounded with a hunting park. The oldest parts of this brick built manor house are the south and east ranges.

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The Murals Room is accessed from the polygonal turret stair at the south east corner of the building. The staircase is oak with solid block treads and the room may have been used as a withdrawing room by the Hynde family who owned the Hall for many generations.

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The upper rooms at the south end of the main range contain many original features with some panelling dated to the construction of the building.

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The Murals Room has original, perhaps re-used, roof timbers which are of false hammerbeam construction with stoutly moulded beams.

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A welcome addition to the university buildings of Cambridge, Madingley Hall was acquired in 1948 and converted for the use of the Extra-Mural Board, research students and visiting scholars.

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The wall paintings were discovered in 1906 under layers of tapestry by Colonel Harding, owner of the Hall at that time. It is thought that the murals were commissioned between 1605-1633 for Sir Edward Hynde, who was a great hunting enthusiast, and it’s likely that the scenes show activities in the park at Madingley.

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The murals depict scenes of hunting, hawking and bear-baiting. As a means of procuring food and as a sport, hunting was the mark of gentility. The bear hunt below features hunters on horseback and servants on foot with mastiffs and greyhounds. Madingley Hall may have been a hunting lodge before it became a permanent home. Bear baiting remained a popular past time in Britain until the 19th century.

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The murals underwent restoration in 1960 and this wonderful room is a hidden gem, only open by prior arrangement.

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