Chavenage is a grey stone Elizabethan house set in the Cotswolds. Parts of the house were built in the late 14th century, possibly the great hall and kitchens at the north end and a two storey section at the south end. The house reflects the typical Tudor E-plan of building, discounting later additions. The garden front is a mix from the 16th to the 20th centuries. There is a battlemented gothic revival window at one end, a dining room bow window, and an Edwardian wing dated 1904.
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The house had a number of different owners, including the crown at one time. The estate was granted to the Seymour family by Henry VIII. In 1553 Sir Walter Denys acquired it. When Edward Stephens purchased it in 1564, he embarked on massive building and reconstruction, adding two wings and a porch, new windows, and even salvaged ship timbers. He left the date of the completion of the building—1576—carved over the front door. The porch has 17th century stained glass while the main door has a sanctuary ring and spy hole.
The main hall panelling dates from 1576 while that in the oak drawing room is from 1627. It is carved and gilded. The hall fireplace has the coat of arms of Robert Stephens who lived in the house until c1608 carved into the stone chimneypiece. Two of the windows contain medieval stained glass. There is a surviving minstrels’ gallery. The oak room fireplace date is 1587-99. It has a collection of porcelain. In the ballroom are leather Cromwellian chairs. Two 17th century bedrooms are located on the upper floor. The walls are hung with tapestries. At the bottom of the stairs is a 17th century memorial chest.
The nearby small Roman Catholic chapel has carved figures set in 17th century stonework and a Saxon font.
During the civil war the house owner, Nathaniel Stephens, fought for parliament and afterwards condoned the execution of Charles I leading to his daughter cursing him and him dying shortly thereafter. The house is said to have many ghosts in addition to his. In ‘Cromwell’s bedroom’ are a number of civil war relics.
The TV drama Lark Rise to Candelford was filmed here.
1.25 miles north-west of Tetbury, and south-west Cirencester, south of Gloucester
Between B4014 and A4135
Tel. 0 1666 502 329
Open: May-end Sep, Thu and Sun, 2-5pm, last tour 4.30pm; also BH, Easter Sun and BH Mon
Historic Houses Association member
All photos © by Barbara Ballard