Hatchlands Park – National Trust

1128 Reviews

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Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

September, 2016

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Travelled with

Adult family

Reasons for trip

There has been a house here since Tudor times although that was demolished in the mid C18th by the Admiral the Hon Edward Boscawen who employed Stiff Leadbetter to design a house for him. The young Robert Adam was given responsibility for the interior decoration. This was one of Adam’s first commissions and his ceilings and fireplaces are particularly impressive.

Unfortunately the Admiral didn’t live long enough to enjoy his new house and his widow sold it to the Sumner family who engaged Humphrey Repton to redesign the park and gardens. Lord Rendel acquired the house from them in the late C19th and modernised it. He is responsible for the painted Adam ceilings and all the gilding. He commissioned Gertrude Jeykell to design a parterre to the south of the house.

The house was gifted to the National Trust in 1945 but without its contents. It housed evacuees during the war and was later a girl ’s finishing school. In 1985, the National Trust approached Alec Cobbe who was undertaking restoration at Petworth House and suggested that he ‘resuscitate’ the house as their family home, furnishing it with his collection of musical instruments as well as pictures and furniture from Newbridge, their family home in Ireland.

Hatchlands is very much a family home and photography is not allowed inside the house. Only six rooms on the ground floor are open to visitors. These contain many of the musical instruments collected by Alec Cobbe and covers the history of stringed instruments from the C17th to C19th. Fifteen instruments were either owned or played by famous composers, including Purcell, JC Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Elgar and Mahler. Others were made by world famous makers. All are maintained in playing condition. This is the place to come to learn the difference between a clavichord, harpsichord, spinet or virginal.

From the outside, Hatchlands is an elegant C18th brick building surrounded by acres of parkland with mature trees. Leadbetter has been described as a ‘competent if rather rather boring architect, working in the Palladian tradition’. There is no indication of the treasures inside. To the side, between the main house and the stables block, is the low C19th extension added by Lord Rendel as a music room. Lord Rendel was also responsible for for reorganising the stable yard buildings with their clock and bell.

Gertrude Jekyll’s a formal garden in from of the south front of the house with palm trees and a small stone fountain.

The rest of the estate is parkland with mature trees, a small pond and “waymarked walks.”:https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hatchlands-park/lists/walking-at-hatchlands-park This “link”:http://www.gps-routes.co.uk/routes/home.nsf/osmapdisp?openform&route=hatchlands-park-walking-route brings up the OS map covering a larger area around Hatchlands. It would be quite easy to spend several hours exploring the grounds.

In some ways there isn’t a lot to see in the house but what there is is very good. I have written a separate “review”:http://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review?id=170015 for this. There are knowledgeable staff in the rooms and a printed guide to the musical instruments on display.

The house is open 2-5 on Sunday, Monday (not September),Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from Easter – end of October. The park, cafe and shop are open daily 10-5 throughout the year or dusk in the winter months. The post code is GU4 7RT and the grid reference is TQ 067520.

There are disabled bays in the car park and there is a buggy available to take people to the house. There is ramped access into the house which is all on the ground floor. There is a disabled toilet in the courtyard which is cobbled. paths through the parkland are gravel although the park can get very muddy in places during the winter months.


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