When we were back in England for our summer holidays, we visited (as one does) various country houses.
As members of the National Trust, we were eager to see some of the more 'out of the way' houses; ones that were off the beaten (tourist) track.
One such house was Chastleton: a fabulous, drop dead gorgeous, Jacobean manor.
We had tried to visit Chastleton one Christmas a few years ago but it was closed at that time. This time we made sure it was open before motoring over to see it - only to find that we had arrived half an hour before closing time!
One week later we were back. Chastleton was open and ready for business - and we were in Jacobean Baroque heaven!
Armed with our guide book and iPad camera we spent a very enjoyable time poking into every nook and cranny the house had to offer; and now it is your turn: So polish your shoe buckles, fix your ruffs, doff your caps and come with me as we go on on a little tour of this wonderful 17th century time capsule.
Chastleton was built between the years 1607 and 1612 by a man named Walter Jones. He had bought the site from the infamous Robert Catesby (of Gunpowder Plot fame), after that man had sold it to help pay a huge fine to the Government after having taken part in the revolt of the Earl of Essex back in 1601. Walter had plans drawn up which resulted in the existing house being pulled down and a new "modern" house built in its place. The result is Chastleton House as we see it today.
Walter's people had been successful Welsh wool merchants while for his part, he had made a name for himself as a lawyer. The house he built remains little changed since his time and stayed in his family for the next four hundred years before being handed to the National Trust in 1991. Little changed over the years because the family gradually became impoverished and had not the funds to do anything in the way of modernisation. To quote from the guide book:
"Barbara Clutton-Brock, the last owner, often said that 'poverty is a great preservative'. Lack of funds had held her Jacobean house and garden in such a suspended state that its remarkable survival was of national significance." (page 2)
The Trust decided not to renovate the house, but to conserve what was there, and what a fab job they have done!
No flash photography was allowed and so I took photos as best I might, using my iPad, but some rooms were too dark and some photos just didn't come out right at all.
Here is the White Parlour:
The plaster work is wonderful, as is the old 'turkey carpet':
I like the way the ancient tapestries are not hung necessarily for display but rather to serve their original purpose, which was to keep out the cold. Here a Teniers tapestry hangs similar to a curtain in the great parlour, with a chair and an old wooden writing box nearby:
The Great Chamber has a monumental fireplace emblazoned with the arms of the builder, Walter Jones.
I like the way this portrait is hung so that the light from the lamp illuminates two two porcelain vases while at the same time shining up onto the painting. It isn't perfectly done and I guess that a proper picture lamp should have been used, however, this is how it was when the family lived there and it 'works'; giving the home a true 'lived in' look rather than a 'museum' feel...
This room is known as the 'Cavalier Room'. It is called this because unbeknownst to the parliamentary troops were sleeping in there during the English Civil War, the owner of the house - Arthur Jones, who at that time was the local Royalist fugitive for whom they were looking - was hiding in the secret room next door. After having had their wine drugged with laudanum by his wife, Arthur was able to slip out through this room, past the sleeping soldiers, take one of their horses, and ride swiftly away in to the night! The bed is of the period as is the linen on the bed:
This is the secret room, where Arthur Jones hid from the parliamentary soldiers sleeping next door. I like the simple oak wall panels and the way that the large paintings is set on the floor:
Here is a view down the East staircase. It is dated 1636 but was rebuilt in 1830. This was the staircase for important visitors so it is somewhat apt that you can see AGA's feet in the bottom left hand corner...
At the top of the house, it is possible to enjoy one of the wonders of England: the Chastleton House Long Gallery. Running the entire 22 metres length of the house, this is the 'longest surviving barrel-vaulted ceiling of its date in England':
I couldn't get the entire length into the photograph but you get an idea of what it looks like. That trunk on the right wall is Spanish and probably dates from around 1500.
Everywhere one looks, one see treasures.
Look at these wonderful carvings and plasterwork:
There are paintings:
Cabinets and curiosities such as this old hearing trumpet
The play of light and shadow in unexpected corners:
And more decorative plasterwork than you can poke a stick at:
(This is also in the Long Gallery)
Just look at this old long-case clock in the hall. It has a lenticle so that one can see the pendulum swinging without opening the door:
(The clock is somewhat dusty but such things sits well in this old house)
Down in the kitchens, the original range sits just as it was when the last owners were in residence:
For some reason I don't have many photos of the gardens. They were more of the green and bushy type rather than the colourful, floral variety:
And in the adjoining field stands the family dovecote (an important source of foods for the Jacobean household):
I hope you enjoyed this little visit to Chastleton House. If ever you get the opportunity to visit then I would thoroughly recommend it!