Berrington Hall was commissioned by the Rt Hon Thomas Harley, 3rd son of the 3rd Earl of Oxford and designed and built by Henry Holland, son-in-law of ‘Capability’ Brown. The earl made his fortune as a supplier of clothing and pay for the British army in the American war for independence, 1766. Thomas Harley was Lord Mayor of London in 1767. In 1901 the house was sold to the Cawley family. Tour of the House
The house, completed in 1783, sits amid parkland, set off by a 14 acre lake with an island, now a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Holland sited the house so it would have views across the valley of a river Lugg tributary and on to the Black Mountains of Wales.
The exterior of the late 18th century house is neo-classical while the interior is the opposite in décor. Painted ceilings are a major attraction along with the staircase hall’s cantilevered staircase that rises to a central glass dome.
Visitors can see a costume collection from Snowshill Manor, Minton china collection, furniture, and paintings. There is a Victorian laundry and Georgian dairy. Below stairs the servants’ quarters is part of the house tour.
The grand entrance to the parkland, designed by ‘Capability’ Brown, is through an arch that leads to a walk between rows of golden yews, planted in the beginning of the 20th century. A fountain in the grounds sets of the entrance to a walled garden that encloses an orchard with 43 different types of historic Herefordshire apples and exotic fruits. Specimen trees and shrubs are another feature in the grounds. There are waymarked trails in the grounds.
Marble Hall: This is a symmetrical room with a marble floor. Wool tapestries date from 1901 and are by Aubusson.
Drawing Room: Décor dates from 1910; elaborate ceiling with plaster work and painted ceilings.
Boudoir: small ladies retiring room: apse with fan shaped semi-dome and barrel shaped ceiling; bright blue pillars made of scagliola (false marble); flower garlands on beam face; ceiling painted; frieze of birds; decorated doors; silk embroidered pictures; two fans that belonged to Queen Hortense of Holland.
Business Room: restored 1975 in original colours; ceiling paintings represent the four seasons; portraits over fireplace and on wall; collection of porcelain; oval mahogany table; Chinese export punch bowl dates from 1782.
Back Hall: family portraits of the Cawleys; letter from Winston Churchill
Lady Cawley’s Room: pictures of Vivienne, Lady Cawley, born 1878, died 1978; photographs.
Dining Room: largest and tallest room in the house; painted ceiling; carved chimney-piece; four large seascapes; portraits
Library: grisaille panels; ceiling medallions; cast iron original fire-back is from 1783.
Stair Hall: staircase lit by glass-domed lantern; decorated ceiling; scagliola columns; frieze with dolphins; two Aubusson tapestries on the walls.
Oval Bedroom: concealed door; cupboards in corners
Corner Bedroom and Dressing Room: restored in 1990 in early 20th century style; wallpapered especially made for the rooms; half tester mid 19th century bed with 18th century silk bedcover; 1800 writing desk; 1900 painted bedroom suite; Exeter carpet rug dated 1820; in dressing room is 1840 marble topped washstand with bedroom china.
White Dressing Room: engravings of British admirals; uniforms worn by the family
Nursery: collection of toys and items from several houses; hand knotted carpet made in Donegal in 18978; rocking horse.
Three miles north of Leominster, Herefordshire, off the A49
Tel. 0 1568 615 721
Open: house: mid Feb-end Oct, daily, 10am-5pm; Nov-3rd week Dec, and 2nd week Jan-1st week Feb, weekends 10am-4pm; other hours during Christmas holidays—check NT website for full details.
National Trust property; shop; plant sales; tea-room; parking
Berrington Hall exterior and grounds © by Barbara Ballard
Other photos courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
gardens, entrance by Phillip Halling; stable block, woodland garden by Trevor Rickard
The National Trust did not allow interior photos when we visited.
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