Friday, May 18, 2012

The Great Country Estates of Britain Series. Part Ten: Wimpole Hall

It has been well over 6 months since my last post in this series, so I thought it was high time to write another one. And what better estate to start with than one we visited on our last trip to the UK: Wimpole Hall.

We were attracted to Wimpole Hall for two reasons - firstly, We were visiting our Godson who is studying Theology at Pembroke College, Cambridge - so we were in the area; and secondly, because it is a fully functioning estate with a farm and thus ideal for gleaning ideas for Willowbrook.

Wimpole Hall is a country house located within the Parish of Wimpole, Cambridgeshire, England, about 8½ miles (14 km) southwest of Cambridge. The house and its 3,000 acres (12 km²) of parkland and farmland are owned by the National Trust and are regularly open to the public.

First built in 1643 and much altered by subsequent owners, Wimpole has developed into the largest country house in Cambridgeshire. Wimpole's owners employed noted architects of their day to make alterations to the Hall: Lord Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford employed James Gibbs; the Earls of Hardwicke during their period of ownership from 1740- 1895 employed Henry Flitcroft, Sir John Soane and Henry Kendall. Evidence of the work of all of these architects can be seen today, but the most notable work is that of Soane. Examples include: the Bathhouse, Book Room and the striking Yellow Drawing Room.

Before the present Wimpole Hall was built in around 1643, there was a moated manor house set in a 200 acre deer-park. Situated to the north and south of this were three medieval villages: Bennall End, Thresham End and Green End.

Wimpole Hall's grounds were laid out and modified by landscape designers such as George London and Henry Wise (1693–1705), Charles Bridgeman (1720s), Robert Greening (1740s), 'Capability' Brown (1767), and Humphry Repton (1801–1809). The parkland as it exists today is an overlay of the work of these landscape designers and gardeners, and was completed under the auspices of Elsie and George Bambridge. Elsie, the daughter of Rudyard Kipling, revitalised the house. Thanks to her efforts, this National Trust property is in the state it is in today.

 The Exterior

Above: North Face

Below: South Face

Above: In the middle of the 300 foot long facade of the south face is the statue 'Charity' by J H Foley (Of The Albert Memorial Fame).

Below: A deer rampant on the stable block roofline.

The Interior

The Entrance Hall

The South Drawing Room

 A Trompe l'oeil Table...

The Long Gallery

Below: The Lord Chancellor's purse (no longer used), originally belonging to Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke (1690-1764).

The Yellow Drawing Room

The Book Room

The interiors have notable plaster-work on both the ceilings and the walls, much of it due to Sir John Soane...

The Red Room

Below Stairs

The Servants' Bells

The Pantry

The Bath Room

The tall wooden apparatus in the photo above was an early, manually filled shower, operated as below...

The Gardens

In the grounds are a chain of lakes (1695–1767), a church (1749), a folly (the false Gothic Tower; 1768), a farm (1792), a walled garden (18th century), and a stable block (1851).

Bridgeman's formal grand avenue sweeps away from the south front of the house for two and a half miles...

The remainder of the park was naturalised by Capability Brown. Then there are the formal gardens on the north side of the hall...

The North Park is particularly attractive with its belts of woodland, gentle rolling hills with individual trees and clumps of trees. The central feature of the North Park is the Gothic Tower and the restored lakes in the valley below.

The Folly

The Chapel

Above: The Italianate Exterior

Below: The Baroque Interior

The Farm 

 Like Willowbrook, Wimpole is part of a Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

The Country Shop

Located in the old stable block...

Offers Gardening items...

The usual standard National Trust Gift items, but also goods made on the farm...

Join us soon for the next instalment the Great Country Estates of Britain Series - Holkham Hall.


  1. Fantastic review of one estate!

    Wimpole Hall's gardens seemed to have been designed and redesigned by the most famous landscape artists in the entire nation and in each generation: George London, Henry Wise, Charles Bridgeman, Robert Greening, Capability Brown and Humphry Repton.

    That suggests that Wimpole's owners had plenty of money, had great taste and were well connected.

  2. Delightful tour of a lesser known country house estate. And a very handsome one, indeed!

  3. fascinating about the bath and the manual shower. Great tour!!


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