Whittington Court is a lovely old stone building, an unfortified Elizabethan Manor House, next to the church and just off the A40 to the east of Cheltenham.
It is very much lived in family house, full of family belongings and clutter. A member of the Historic Houses Trust, it is completely different to the big showcase stately home.
HHA properties are great fun. Each is very different and you never know quite what to expect. All are family homes and many have a lived in feel with personal belongings scattered round. Creaking floorboards add to the character.
We were given a warm welcome by the owner’s wife and taken to the kitchen for a cup of tea and cakes before the tour began. They don’t advertise teas as there may be no-one around to make them. A big mug was found for Michael and a smaller one for me. There was a good choice of home made cakes with chocolate and ginger, coffee, sticky toffee cake, biscuits and muesli bars. There was no charge but a voluntary contribution of £2.50 for charity.
The guided tour is a cross between informal chat and guided tour. We began in the library, a pleasant book lined room with huge fireplace and splendid Italian stone over mantle. Next was the dining room with wood rib ceiling, large dining table and lovely old polished wood furniture. Doors open into the garden. Beyond is the kitchen with an aga and the small sitting room where we had our tea.
A lovely old wooden staircase leads off the entrance hall. Across the bottom is an early 1600 dog gate. On the half landing is a wooden chest and display case with old crystal. (The owner was keeper of glass and china at the V&A before he retired).
On the first floor are a series of family rooms Don’t miss the ‘internal porch’ in the corner of one room. This was put over the door as a draught excluder.
The stairs continue up to what would have been the servant’s rooms in the attics. These are now a workroom used by the owner’s wife for designing and printing fabrics.
The history of the house is shrouded in mystery. The present building was built in 1550 probably by Richard Cotton. It must have been built on the site of an earlier house as it stands in a half moat. Moats went out of fashion in the mid C15th when they were no longer needed for defence. The church predates the house and also stands within the moat.
The estate was bought by Richard Cotton in the 1540s but didn’t include the right to build. He had to get special permission from the crown. The charter complete with Henry VIIIs seal was found in the attic and is now on display in the library. He built the right hand bay of the house. The house was extended to the east in the C17th, filling in the space between the church and the original house. It is possible the ground to the west was too wet and boggy to build on as there is a spring line here.
This was a fascinating visit. There wasn’t a lot to see, but the tour by one of the family was great fun. This is very much a well loved family house and the tour reflects this. It doesn’t have its own website and is only open a few weeks in the year. It doesn’t get many visitors and most of those are members of HHA. It is a refreshing antidote to places like Sudeley Castle. There is plenty of parking in the field next to the house. There is disabled access to the ground floor only.
It is also worth visiting the church too (separate review).