Prop­erty News

Never mind ar­mo­rial sil­ver, an an­ces­tral house is one of the most mean­ing­ful (and chal­leng­ing) of in­her­i­tances. An­nun­ci­ata Wal­ton looks at six that have been in the same fam­ily for gen­er­a­tions

Country Life Every Week - - Contents - Edited by An­nun­ci­ata Wal­ton

A his­toric es­tate is the best heir­loom of all, says An­nun­ci­ata Wal­ton

Al­nwick Cas­tle, Northum­ber­land

Accio broom­stick! Fa­mous as more than just the spot where Harry Pot­ter learnt to fly—al­nwick Cas­tle (COUN­TRY LIFE, March 4, 2009) has also fea­tured in Down­ton Abbey, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Black­ad­der, to name a few screen ap­pear­ances—this Percy strong­hold (which the fam­ily pur­chased in 1309) is one of the largest in­hab­ited cas­tles in the UK and among the most vis­ited. The Al­nwick Gar­den, with one of the world’s largest wooden tree­houses and ad­join­ing poi­son gar­den, both overseen by the Duchess of Northum­ber­land, is even more renowned, at­tract­ing more than 600,000 visi­tors per year (www.al­nwick­cas­tle.com).

Hov­ing­ham Hall, North York­shire

De­scended from Elias, a gi­ant who died fight­ing in the Cru­sades, the Wors­ley fam­ily bought the Manor of Hov­ing­ham in 1563. Upon in­her­it­ing in 1751, the horse-ob­sessed Thomas Wors­ley set about build­ing the grand­est Pal­la­dian sta­bles he could imag­ine. Into th­ese, he in­cor­po­rated a hand­some coun­try house al­most as an af­ter­thought—the ball­room was above the sta­bles and, af­ter Ho­race Walpole com­mented on the sin­gu­lar aroma, the horses were, sen­si­bly, moved else­where—and it re­mained un­fin­ished when he died in 1778. Hov­ing­ham Hall (COUN­TRY LIFE, Septem­ber 15 and 22, 1994) is the child­hood home of The Duchess of Kent and its pri­vate cricket ground is said to be the coun­try’s old­est in continuous use (www.hov­ing­ham.co.uk).

Ren­ishaw Hall, Der­byshire

Is there a mod­ern-day Mel­lors in the vil­lage of Eck­ing­ton? Be still our beat­ing hearts; D. H. Lawrence is said to have used Ren­ishaw Hall (COUN­TRY LIFE, June 5, 2003) and its lo­cal­ity as in­spi­ra­tion for Lady Chat­ter­ley’s Lover. Home to the Sitwell fam­ily for nearly 400 years, the hall’s cur­rent chate­laine Alexandra Hayward (née Sitwell) over­sees the es­tate, in­clud­ing plant­ing in the award-win­ning Ital­ianate gar­dens, laid out in the 19th cen­tury by her great-grand­fa­ther. The es­tate vine­yard was, un­til 1986, the north­ern­most vine­yard in the world and the Ja­cobean/ge­or­gian/re­gency pile was home to the an­gu­lar-fea­tured lit­er­ary Sitwell sib­ling trio (Os­bert, Sacheverell and Edith), ri­vals to the Blooms­bury Set (www.ren­ishaw-hall.co.uk).

‘In 1725, a tum­ble from the Great Hall’s min­strels’ gallery re­sulted in the death of Eng­land’s last Court jester’ Berke­ley Cas­tle, Gloucestershire

Built in the 11th cen­tury, Berke­ley Cas­tle (Coun­try Life, De­cem­ber 2 and 9, 2004) has been in the same fam­ily for some 850 years, whose ten­ure has wit­nessed all man­ner of diver­sions: it’s sug­gested that Shake­speare’s A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream was first per­formed at a Berke­ley fam­ily wed­ding, Ed­ward II was mur­dered here in 1327 and, in 1725, a tum­ble from the Great Hall’s min­strels’ gallery re­sulted in the death of Eng­land’s last Court jester—‘here lies the Earl of Suf­folk’s fool’ reads his epi­taph at the lo­cal vil­lage church (www.berke­l­ey­cas­tle.com).

Broughton Hall, North York­shire

Home to the orig­i­nal Dicky and Daffy (Coun­try Life’s Annie Tempest grew up at Broughton), the Tempest fam­ily has been here since 1097, al­though the cur­rent hall was built in 1597. To­day, Broughton (Coun­try Life, July 22 and 29, 2015) pre­sides over per­haps the world’s most beau­ti­ful busi­ness park; the fam­ily still lives in the hall, but the 3,000-acre es­tate houses more than 50 com­pa­nies, em­ploy­ing some 600 peo­ple, in a va­ri­ety of con­verted coach houses, sta­bles, barns and other build­ings. There are also con­fer­ences, wed­dings and other events, plus hol­i­day cot­tages and the Avalon spa is set to open this year (www.broughton­hall.co.uk).

El­more Court, Gloucestershire

‘One clove of Gil­lyflower’ was the rent for land at El­more in 1274, when the Guise fam­ily first came to own the es­tate. Pretty El­more Court (Coun­try Life, April 22, 2015), still very much a fam­ily home, was built in about 1540. The cur­rent owner, Anselm Guise, spent sev­eral years turn­ing the place into a top-notch venue for wed­dings and other events. The most ex­cit­ing ad­di­tion has been The Gil­lyflower, a beau­ti­ful, sus­tain­able build­ing that serves as a kind of per­ma­nent mar­quee, for din­ner and danc­ing (www.el­more­court.com).

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