If you have read any of my previous posts, you would be right in thinking that I have a passion for our grand British buildings. The history, the architecture, the furnishings, the people and of course if there are any secrets to discover, so much the better.
Many of the grand houses around Britain have become too costly for the families to maintain, and so are gifted to the National Trust. So I guess its no surprise either to know that I am a member of the afore mentioned NT.
Now, on my latest jaunt, I paid a visit to the magnificent Wimpole Hall, (pictured above).
I was impressed by the grand staircase, the number of superb portraits, the silver centre piece on the dinning table, and how elegant, yet intimate the drawing room looked.
Situated 8.1/2 miles from Cambridge, sits on the outskirts of the village of Wimpole. Although the first house was built here in 1540, the village of Wimpole is actually mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1089. At that time, there was a much smaller manor house of only 200 acres and a small deer park to the estate. Close to the great Roman Road, Ermine Street, which has been in use in one form or another for almost 2,000 years.
In 1767 the famous Landscape Architect, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown worked on the grounds, giving it the natural look we see today. However, they have retained a small area that is still laid out as formal flower beds. I like this mix, as you get the best of both worlds.
Charles Bridgeman, who had formerly worked on the ground design in the 1720’s, is best known for constructing the formal grand avenue, that sweeps away from the south front of the house for almost two and a half miles.
If you look really, really hard, you may just about make out Wimpole Hall standing in the distance.
Now, of course my very favourite rooms were the library’s. Yes, not one, but two beautiful rooms full of books, from floor to ceiling.
On 27 October 1843, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited the hall. They listened to speeches by local politicians including the Earl of Hardwicke, and dinner was served for 26 people. A grand ball was held in the evening to celebrate the occasion.
On 28 October 1843, Her Majesty visited the farm in the morning before departing for London. A portrait of the young queen was commissioned in honour of this visit.
Now, as a person of faith, I could not help but be impressed by Wimpole Hall’s private chapel. It is quite possibly, besides the Sistine chapel which I have visited several times while in Vatican City, the best I have seen. The stunning artwork is worth a visit alone. Another unusual feature is the balcony.
I love it when you discover something you were not expecting, some little secret, and Wimpole Hall does not disappoint. Tucked away is what you could only describe an splendid plunge pool. Plunge pools were first seen in Britain with the Roman conquest, but here we have a fully tiled room with a wonderful large plunge pool. Lovely!
Another fashion that we see at Wimpole Hall is the growing trend for recording your artwork, hopefully by some of the old masters. You would have an artist come into your home, and paint a picture of you sitting amongst your gathered treasures. This is exactly what we see here.
The entrance hall, grand salon, bedrooms are equally sumptuous, decorated and furnished to the highest standard of the day.
And of course, no wealthy family could have lived in their grand house without the hard working, faithful, and loyal servants that made everything run perfectly smooth. Here is a few pictures of below stairs. I have to say that I was surptised that the housekeepers room was larger than the butlers room. Girl Power maybe?
Although the house has seen many owners over the years, the last family to occupy it was Captain George Bambridge and his wife Elsie, who incidentally was the daughter of Rudyard Kipling.
Elsie on her wedding day, (left) and her father, Rudyard Kipling.
They began renting the estate in 1932 and finally managed to purchase it in 1938 after Elsie’s father died and she came into her inheritance, along with all the royalties from his books.
They used some of the inheritance money to complete the long-needed refurbishment to the house and grounds.
The final chapter of Wimpole as an owner-occupied residence was closed in 1976 when Elsie died, leaving the property to the National Trust
It is a Grade I listed building as are several other structures and buildings on the estate.
I hope you have enjoyed sharing my tour of Wimpole Hall, and it will inspire you to pay it a visit for yourself.
Till next time,