Chavenage House: A Storied Manor of Tetbury, England
Nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes of Tetbury, England, Chavenage House stands as a captivating testament to the region’s rich history and architectural grandeur. With its origins dating back to the 16th century, this splendid manor has witnessed centuries of intriguing tales and has become a renowned destination for history enthusiasts and architecture aficionados alike. Join us on a journey through time and explore the enchanting world of Chavenage House.
A Glimpse into History
Our recent trip to the United Kingdom began in Bath, with a tour of the Roman Baths. It was the day of the Coronation which started our tour of Great Britain off with bang! Really more of a chime than a bang, since the church bells were ringing in honor of the new king. But, I must say that the day we toured Chavenage House was my favorite day so far. If you follow this series of stops in the UK, you may read that everything was my favorite. That’s because every day seemed to be better than the day before. I love Great Britain. I want to go to there – AGAIN.
The manor was constructed in 1576 by Edward Stephens, a prosperous wool merchant. This Elizabethan manor exudes a sense of timeless elegance and serves as a remarkable example of Tudor architecture. Over the centuries, the house has undergone various modifications, blending elements from different eras. Despite these changes, Chavenage House has retained its original charm and character, providing visitors with a unique glimpse into the past.
During WWII, Eisenhower visited the manor to speak to those who were planning D-Day.
007 stood here on the very steps where General Eisenhower gave his speech. Our tour guide, Colin, the uncle of the current owner, told 007, “You, sir, are standing in the exact stance that the general stood to encourage those who were in essence, planning the turn of the war.” This may have been his favorite part of the tour.
The architecture of Chavenage House is a harmonious fusion of Tudor, Elizabethan, and Jacobean styles. The exterior boasts a striking façade with mullioned windows, towering chimneys, and a distinctive central porch adorned with ornate carvings. The interior is equally captivating, featuring oak-paneled rooms, a great hall, and a stunning Elizabethan plaster ceiling. Each room tells a story, with intricate details and period furnishings that transport visitors to a bygone era.
One of my first thoughts as we entered the manor was that someone forgot to put away the toys, because of this puppet on the mantle. But, as I looked closer I realized why this little guy has such a prominent place in the house.
A Starring Role in Film and Television
Chavenage House has played a prominent role in several notable film and television productions, further enhancing its allure. Most notably, it served as the backdrop for the iconic BBC television series, “Poldark,” based on Winston Graham’s historical novels. The house’s timeless beauty and authentic atmosphere made it the perfect setting for the series, captivating audiences worldwide.
The photos that sit atop antiques portray various scenes in all the different productions where the house has been the setting. To see and touch all of these photos, the puppet and other movie paraphernalia, gives the manor a lived-in, welcoming feeling.
Please Sit Anywhere You Like
In most palace or castle tours, visitors are told quite sternly not to touch anything. Don’t sit on the furniture! But not at Chavenage House. We were encouraged to sit on the sofa or any chair in the room, we were allowed to touch a weapon used at Normandy, and ran our hands over the tapestries in the room where Oliver Cromwell slept when he visited.
And the owners, who still live there greeted us as if we were long lost relatives. As strange as it sounds, I felt quite at home there. Especially while having tea and playing fetch with Chance, the family pet who is part King Charles Spaniel and part something else. The owner of Chavenage House, Caroline Lowsley-Williams, told the story of how she bought Chance, thinking she was a full-blooded King Charles Spaniel, only to find out through DNA testing, that she was not the bloodline she had paid for. Nevertheless, she is a much loved pet and I can see why. I asked 007 if we could take her home as a souvenir, but he was quick to remind me that we had no room in our luggage for a King Charles Spaniel of her size.
The tea service made us feel like we were VIP’s instead of tourists from Alabama. I still can’t believe that I had tea in Chavenage House with the owners of this grand estate.
Caroline told us lots of stories. She is a natural storyteller and quite fun, too. She asked if we were enjoying our tea and when she was asked to join us, she offered that her drink of choice was more on the Gin side of things that tea. She shared how her father had volunteered to take coffee to an actress during the filming of Tess of the d’Ubervilles. He was not an early riser, but was the first one up on the morning of this particular shot. Caroline added, “Did I forget to mention that this was a nude scene?”
Ghosts and Intriguing Legends
Other topics to discuss were the ghosts that are rumored to walk the halls. No historic manor would be complete without its share of ghostly tales and legends, and Chavenage House is no exception. It is said to be haunted by several spirits, including the ghost of a lady dressed in white, a spectral coach and horses, and a monk. These eerie tales add an air of mystery and intrigue, captivating those who have an interest in the supernatural.
Exploring the Grounds
Beyond the house itself, Chavenage offers visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the enchanting beauty of its grounds. The estate features beautiful gardens, woodlands, and a tranquil family chapel, providing a serene backdrop for both the Church of England and Catholic faiths. The idyllic surroundings make it easy to understand why Chavenage House has remained a cherished destination for visitors seeking solace and a connection to the past.
The large evergreen tree is a Lebanese Cypress and I’ve already researched whether this gorgeous specimen of cedar can live in my zone. It seems it can, but how do I get it to Alabama? Hehehehe.
Events and Visiting Chavenage
Chavenage House is open to the public during certain months of the year, offering guided tours that delve into its history and share intriguing anecdotes. The estate has also hosted various events, such as historical reenactments, antique fairs, weddings, and garden festivals, that provide a vibrant calendar of activities for visitors of all ages. Including retired visitors from south Alabama.
The little village of Tetbury has a rich heritage, inviting visitors to step into a world of timeless elegance and enchantment. With its exquisite architecture, fascinating history, and stunning surroundings, this historic manor is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a glimpse into England’s past.
Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply seeking a serene escape, Chavenage House promises an unforgettable experience, filled with beauty, intrigue, and the echoes of centuries gone by. Most importantly, though, try to book your tour when the family will be at home. It makes for the most interesting visit.
Other tours in our visit to the United Kingdom:
5 Highlights of the Roman Baths