BERRINGTON HALL, NEAR LEOMINSTER, HEREFORDSHIRE, UK
Thomas Harley, a banker and government contractor in London, made a fortune from the lucrative contracts enabling him to retire in his mid-forties. He was keen to retire to the country and, as his family had always had links with Herefordshire, he bought the Berrington Estate in 1775. Harley commissioned the renowned ‘Capability’ Brown to lay out the park and gardens with sweeping views west towards Wales and the Black Mountains. Later in 1778, Harley commissioned Henry Holland, ‘Capability’ Brown’s son-in-law, to design a new house for him in the popular neo-classical style using the finest London craftsmen. The house was completed in 1783. In 1781, Harley’s daughter, Anne, married the son of the great naval commander, Admiral Lord Rodney. When Harley died in 1804, with no male heir, the Berrington Estate passed to the Rodney family.The family lived there for the next 95 years until George, the 7th Lord Rodney, gambled away the assets and was forced to sell the estate in 1901.
The estate was purchased by Frederick Cawley, a wealthy Lancashire businessman, who redecorated the house sympathetically, leaving Holland’s original design intact. However, it was handed over to The National Trust in 1957 in part payment for death duties for the second Lord Cawley. The last member of the Cawley family to live at Berrington Hall was Lady Cawley, who died in 1978 at the grand age of 100.
The red sandstone exterior presents a plain exterior with little adornment but the interior is richly decorated with wonderful painted ceilings and ornate plasterwork. Over the years, much of the original contents had been sold off. However, the National Trust was able to furnish the house with the Elmar Digby collection of 18th century French furniture, clocks and works of art, which had been bequeathed to the Trust in 1981.
The Drawing Room
The Dining Room
The Staircase Hall
The Marble Hall
Lady Cawley’s Room at Berrington Hall was used by her as a
sitting room until her death in 1978
The ‘below stairs’ areas and servants’ quarters include a Victorian laundry, Butler’s Pantry and Georgian Dairy.
The Parkland and Gardens
There are some 456 acres of parkland and gardens and this was the last major garden designed by ‘Capability’ Brown. There are three way-marked paths through the parkland with views over the beautiful surrounding Herefordshire countryside.
There is a walled garden, originally the kitchen garden, which contains rare species of old fruit trees including apple, plum and cherry, and a woodland garden including a large collection of azaleas and rhododendrons.
The Walled Garden
Berrington Pool, a lake created entirely by hand, covers 14 acres in area, and lies at the foot of a sloping hill that extends to the very steps of the house.
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