Looking rather austere in this picture, I’m sure if the sun was shining on this fine medieval manor it would look rather less ‘grey’. It was built around 1465 by a wealthy business man, Thomas Tropenell who owned several large estates. Different owners over time changed the manor but the most significant transformation was by Major Robert Fuller in 1905 who brought it back to its former glory. There are several fine oriel windows and the soldiers, griffons and monkeys adorning the rooftops are easy to spot.
The manor was gifted to the National Trust in 1943 on the understanding they would care for Great Chalfield Manor and Garden and the family would remain as tenants. Today Major Fuller’s grandson and family live in the manor and manage the property.
The notice board in the courtyard showed that the next timed entry into the manor would be happening shortly. We duly waited around the entrance with the rest of the visitors for the main door to open. Looking at the front of the building we wondered how many rooms we would see but unfortunately the only part of the house which was open were The North and South Drawing Rooms. To ensure we didn’t feel too disappointed our National Trust guide spoke at great length about the rooms with much enthusiasm and a lot of detail! Looking at the National Trust’s website, it’s certainly worth going back when the rest of the house is open which it will be from 3rd April. With the relaxation of the Covid rules I would imagine more rooms will be accessible now but as this house is lived in there are several rooms which are private.
We weren’t too disappointed about not seeing much of the house as the gardens which are described on the National Trust website as having …”beautiful lawns and yew topiary; an orchard where the grass stays long, waterfalls of pink roses climbing the walls and a spring-fed pond which is surrounded by magnificent trees”. There is inspiration to be found here and rather than writing a lot on this very romantic garden designed in the ‘Arts & Crafts style (apparently), most of this Blog features my pictures.
So here goes with the pictures of the grounds and gardens when we visited in September 2021.
If like me you watched ‘Poldark’ on BBC1 you might be interested to know that a few scenes were filmed here in the garden. Caroline Ennis, the doctor’s wife leaves her husband for a while to stay with her uncle. The doctor comes to visit her and like all good love stories, they are reconciled. In the two top pictures here, Dr & Mrs Ennis walked along the path through both yew arches discussing as they walk about their feelings for each other, pausing through the first archway before going through the second.
Having wandered around the garden near the house we then went into the 13th century church of All Saints which is adjacent to the manor house. I’m not sure why I didn’t take any pictures of the interior because it’s a lovely old church and very interesting with a centuries’ old organ and medieval side panels and an ornate transept and wooden roof timbers.
After coming out of the church we wandered down towards the lake passing by this sweet little building.
The website is quite right in that the views of the house and grounds from the other side of the lake are superb.
You can probably guess that I absolutely loved this garden and as Bradford-on-Avon isn’t too far from where I live in Gloucestershire, I’m sure we’ll be back. I hope these pictures have inspired you to visit too.