Coughton Court is the family home of the Throckmorton’s, who still reside there, and has been for over 600 years. The family suffered much persecution through the years for being Catholic, and there are many items of historical Catholic significance throughout the house. The Throckmorton’s were also notable for having involvement with the Gunpowder Plot to blow up parliament and James I and for Bess Throckmorton, who went on to marry Sir Walter Raleigh and angered Elizabeth I in the process.
Set amongst impressive grounds, which will feature in a later post, the Court itself is a breathtaking building, first glimpsed from the road and then through the Courtyard and into the Front Hall.
The Front Hall has an impressive ceiling, which is actually constructed of plaster rather than stone.
On exiting the Front Hall you head up the staircase which is surrounded by portraits of Throckmorton family members. I particularly liked that their family crest is woven into the carpet.
A fun (or challenging!) expereince is the spiral staircase up to the Tower Room and then on to the roof of the Court itself. The Tower Room was used as a Catholic Chapel in Elizabeth I’s reign. It has a commanding view of the surrounding area so they could spot approaching trouble and the family had installed a priest’s hole – a secret chamber in the north-east turret of the tower. It’s from the Tower Room that you gain access to the roof which gives you a much greater appreciation of the scale of the Throckmorton’s lands.
One of the lovelier decorative aspects of the Court is the beautiful stained glass in several of the windows, which celebrate various Throckmorton marriages from the 15th and 16th centuries, a couple of which are below.
In the Dining Room, which is still used by the family today, stands a chair made from the bed in which Richard III slept the night before the Battle of Bosworth.
Another lovely room is the Tapestry Bedroom which currently features a Victorian bed known as a half tester.
Included in this section are Catholic relics such as a 16th century cope said to have been embroidered by Katherine of Aragon, which sadly didn’t photograph well as it is protected by a glass case, and the chemise which Mary, Queen of Scots was wearing the day she was executed (pictured below).
The Saloon is another great room – now used for family gatherings it would have served as a place for the household to eat on special occasions and as a secret chapel. You descend into the room from a staircase which gives you an excellent idea of what it must have been like to live in such a house (although the staircase itself was actually originally part of Harvington Hall, another of the Throckmorton’s homes).
It’s a really lovely place to visit and I highly recommend it. For such a comparatively small venue there’s a lot to see. Of course, there is even more to see outside with an extensive range of gardens and two churches, which will be the subjects of subsequent posts.
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