Wimpole Hall, a National Trust property, has seen many owners and much remodeling over its centuries of existence since 1640-70, when he was built by Sir Thomas Chicheley. The hall is set in a 2500 acre estate.
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The house was extended in 1711 by its new owner Edward, Lord Harley, who became earl of Oxford. He had an extensive library and was involved in literary and artistic pursuits with like-minded friends. Due to his lack of monetary acumen, he had to sell the house in 1740; thus it passed into the hands of the Hardwicke family who retained it for 150 years. The elaborate yellow drawing room and the bathhouse, subscribed by the 3rd earl of Hardwick in the 1790s, were creations of architect John Soane.
Wimpole was purchased in 1938 by the daughter of Ruyard Kipling, Elsie, and her husband Captain George Bambridge. They de-constructed some of the Victorian additions and purchased various paintings and objects that were once in the house. When Elsie died in 1976 she left the house to the National Trust.
A tour of the house takes in the entrance hall, ante room, south drawing room, 62 foot long gallery, book room, library, red room, yellow drawing room, saloon, great staircase, Lord Chancellor’s room, Mrs. Bambridge’s study and bedroom/dressing room, documents room, bath house, chapel, servants’ quarters, dining room, and breakfast room.
Items to note in the house tour are:
entrance hall: ten Wootten paintings
ante room: marquetry table, panelling
south drawing room: painted German furniture, fireplace carving
gallery: the pictures
book room: a Soane room, gilt mirror
library: plasterwork ceiling, book collection
yellow drawing room: dramatic Soane room, curved settees, plasterwork, dome
great staircase: plasterwork
Lord Chancellor’s room: state bed with canopy
bath house: plunge bath holding over 2000 gallons of water
chapel: grand baroque interior built by Gibbs
servants’ quarters: lit with gas lamps, housekeeper’s room, dry store, butler’s pantry, steward’s room
dining room: Victorian ceiling plasterwork
In the grounds is the parish church of St Andrew. Here is a collection of monuments in memory of the owners. The grounds include a garden and park and have, like the house, changed over the years. The 17th century saw a formal garden north of the house that was later extended. Ponds, woods, and avenues were other additions. Later the parterres were grassed over, and in 1767 famous landscaper 'Capability’ Brown lent his hand to create parkland with lakes and trees and a Gothic tower. The park was later made more natural by Humphry Repton. In Victorian times a garden with flower beds was added. There is a Dutch garden and a rose garden. In April thousands of daffodils bloom.
Red brick stables were added in 1851. The home farm has thatched buildings designed by Soane in 1792.
Cambridgeshire SG8 0BW
Tel. 01223 206000
Open: opening times for the house, grounds, and home farm are varied so please check Wimpole Hall website for details.
Website: Wimpole Home Farm
Note: The National Trust did not allow interior photos when we visited.