Charlecote Park is an impressive 16th century National Trust property on the banks of the River Avon in Warwickshire. Not only are the interiors beautifully decorated, but it is surrounded by a deer park where we were fortunate to get quite close to the deer, and the River Avon is literally on its door step.
As we were experiencing typically temperamental April weather we decided to explore the outdoor spaces first, which lead us close to the deer. According to legend William Shakespeare was caught poaching the deer here in around 1583.
The gardens were largely the work of Capability Brown and the floral parterres on the west side of the house were restored in 1995 to how they would have looked in the 19th century.
It was also interesting to see exactly how close to the river the house was, as you can see from this photo.
The present house was built by Sir Thomas Lucy in the 1550s and it has been lived in by that family ever since – Sir Edmund Fairfax-Lucy and his family are the present occupiers. You enter the grounds through the impressive gatehouse and then get your first glimpse of the entrance front, though the photo below was taken at a different angle.
On the right are two sculptures that caught my eye – the shepherd and shepherdess by Edward Hurst which were bought by Colonel George Lucy for £20 in 1718.
There are so many interesting features in the house that I’ll only concentrate on a few here. One of the things that did stand out, as always in my case, is the wonderful stained glass windows throughout the Great Hall and the dining room. Depicting the genealogy of the Lucy family they are original to the house and their striking colours are as rich today as when they were first installed.
The Great Hall itself was very impressive, bright and airy with lots of interesting busts reflecting its history – it was here that Thomas Lucy greeted Elizabeth I when she visited in 1572. Most of the decoration however was from the 1830s, made to look Elizabethan. The bust of Elizabeth below is copied from her tomb effigy at Westminster Abbey, though with added crown.
And the library, which used to be the drawing room where tea would be served, holds one of the best libraries in the National Trust and these books and fittings seen here remain as they would have done since the house was built.
There is much more than this to see and I would highly recommend a visit. You can find more photos here.