Gawthorpe Hall (general infos)

Padiham, Lancashire, a three-storey Jacobean house, was built in 1605 as the home for the Shuttleworth family. Between 1850 and 1852 the Hall was restored by architect Sir Charles Barry, who also designed the Houses of Parliament. Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth was the last member of the family to live at Gawthorpe. After her death the house and grounds were given in 1970 to the National Trust. Kay-Shuttleworth’s nationally important collections of the needlework, lace, textiles and costumes are housed here.


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Montagu Palace (Beaulieu Abbey)


Formerly the 14th century Great Gatehouse of Beaulieu Abbey, Palace House is set in glorious grounds and gardens with immaculate spreading lawns and walkways overlooking the Beaulieu River. The House has been in Lord Montagu’s family ownership since 1538, when Sir Thomas Wriothesley, later 1st Earl of Southampton, bought the Estate after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Lord Henry Scott, the first resident owner of Palace House, extended it in the 1870’s to accommodate his growing family. The architect was Sir Arthur Blomfield and the House you see today is a mixture of Victorian Gothic, medieval Gothic and 18th century fortification styles.

victoriansOur Victorian staff bring Palace House to life …The monastic origins of the House are evident and, once inside, visitors soon succumb to its friendly atmosphere as they view the many splendid and varied family treasures, portraits, photographs and memorabilia.

Above all, Palace House remains a family home still lived in by the present Lord Montagu and his family and much loved by them.

Belton Manor


ukthumb_em1During medieval times the manor of Belton was owned by St Mary’s Abbey at York but, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the land reverted back to the Crown. No architectural evidence has been found of the original manor house, if indeed there was one, but the surviving gate piers of a post-Dissolution residence can still be seen in the north wall by the Orangery. In the late 17th century, having inherited most of his great-uncle’s wealth as well as his estate at Belton, Sir John Brownlow decided to build a new country house for his family. Several architects have been associated with Belton House, including Sir Christopher Wren, but it is more feasible that William Winde and William Stanton were largely responsible for the design and construction of the property, possibly seeking advice from Roger Pratt.

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Beaumaris Castle

beaumaris_castle3ukthumb_wales1This unusual, yet magnificent building, located in the county town of Anglesey was the last Welsh castle of Edward I. In keeping with it’s ‘fairytale’ appearance, even the name ‘Beaumaris’ is derived from the French for beautiful marsh – ‘le beau marais’.

The castle owes its unique design to the King’s architect, Master James of St. George. Construction began in 1295, and spanned over approximately 35 years, yet despite the enormous amount of money and labour that went into the building of it, the castle was never completed. Most of the structural remains on this extensive site today have changed little since the 1330’s. Beaumaris was never subject to wilful destruction, and the deterioration to lead-work and timber is merely as a result of lack of restoration over the years. The uniform topography of the marshy land adjacent to the Menai Straight, allowed Master James to design the castle with perfect symmetry and, in keeping with that period, Beaumaris has no keep or central tower.

beaumaris_castle4Although the defence strategies were never really called upon, the major consideration in the original construction of the castle was security. All residential accommodation was situated either within the Inner ward, or in adjacent towers. Encompassing the Inner Ward were four defence barriers – a curtain wall (up to sixteen feet thick), an Outer Ward with an area of open ground to its exterior, a lower octagonal-shaped outer curtain, and a surrounding moat, water for which was provided by tidal flow from the sea.

Beaumaris Castle – One of the round towers in the curtain wallEntrance to the Inner Ward resembles a well-thought out obstacle course, with fourteen defence barriers to overcome. There’s a drawbridge over the moat, murder slots, and a robust door located at the ‘Gate next the Sea’ on the outer curtain wall, followed by two further barriers: the door to the barbican, and the barbican itself. On reaching the main gatehouse, several more murder slots, portcullises, outward-opening doors and spy-holes are encountered.The curtain wall of the Inner Ward has a tower on each corner, plus a middle tower on the East and West walls, and a two-turreted North Gatehouse and South Gatehouse, neither of which were completed.

The design of the North Gatehouse was based on the gatehouse at Harlech, yet was intended to be much larger had it been finished. The construction of the Southern Gatehouse reached an even lower level of completion, with the turrets standing no higher than the curtain walls. The Chapel, displaying a fine, ribbed stone vaulted ceiling, is located on the first floor of the middle tower on the East curtain wall and can be reached by a modern timber staircase from the courtyard. From the wall walk, between the fragmented battlements, a wonderful ‘birds eye’ view is possible of this splendid residential fortress.