Monday, 19 September 2016

Montacute House

Montacute House (East Front) 
It came a nice sunny day on Friday, so I decided on a day out to visit Montacute House, about 30 miles from here.

Montacute House (West Front)

It is a beautiful Elizabethan mansion, built between 1598 and 1601, and now owned by the National Trust.

View over garden

The original owner was a Sir Edward Phelips, who was a lawyer and courtier, and who was involved in the prosecution of Guy Fawkes and the other gunpowder plotters. After that, the familiy seems to have become less prominent or active.

Tudor Chap

In the Great Hall, I met this gentleman. I assume he was a NT volunteer, and not simply a visitor with a taste for historical re-enactment!

Dining Room with 15thC Tapestry

None of the furniture in the house is original to the property, as the original owners sold off the contents when they could no longer afford the house,  but much of it is is of the right periods - the tapestry in the dining room is a 15th C French one, for instance, created during the 1470s in Tournai.


My favourite room was, naturally, the Library. It was originally the 'Great Chamber', where the most important guests would be entertained or impressed, and where any passing royalty would have slept. 

Stained Galss - Library

It has impressive (and expensive) 16th C stained glass, including Queen Elizabeth I's coat of arms (although if he hoped to impress her that way he missed the boat, as she died soon after the house was completed, and never visited)

There's also some 18th C graffiti, on the windows, although I'm not sure whether poems in Latin to the writer's mother really counts...

The Long Gallery
The house has the longest surviving Tudor Long Gallery in England, 173 feet (53 metres) long. It's currently used to house portraits loaned by the National Gallery, of various Elizabethan and Jacobean dignitaries. They are all in the style of Holbein,but none of them are actually by him....

There was also, separately, a small exhibition of samplers, dating from the mid 1600s to the late 1800s.

I rather liked this mid-1600s mermaid and peacock, although I would have liked a little more information - for instance, for many of the samplers they listed the name of the girl who made it, (even when this wasn't shown on the sampler itself) but didn't give any further information, for instance about her age or status. I'm sure in some cases they may have known!

Outside, there are formal lawns and yew hedges, and the obligatory fountain!

If the place looks familiar, it is probably because it was used extensively as a location for the filming of 'Wolf Hall', standing in for Greenwich Palace, and also appearing in the jousting and archery scenes.

It's a beautiful house (and is in a very pretty village) and was interesting to visit.

No comments: