|I doth my hat|
As regular readers will know, Enville is one of our favourite places; a truly magical location set in the rolling hills and valleys in the West Midlands between the rivers Severn and Stour. The scenery is breathtaking and the village is noted for the historic Enville Hall and a more recent discovery. More on that later.
The Hall was originally the residence of the Grey family from Leicestershire, who also built Bradgate Park in Leicestershire, the home of Lady Jane Grey. A minor branch of the family made the move to Staffordshire in the late 15th century and acquired the manor through marriage. Thomas Grey built a new house with turrets and crow stepped gables in the 1530s. A large number of the family were executed in the early part of the 16th century, but the Leicestershire branch survived.
The 2nd Baron Grey of Groby wed Anne Cecil, the youngest daughter and co-heir of William Cecil, 3rd Earl of Exeter in 1620. Through his wife, Henry inherited land and property and in 1628 was created Earl of Stamford. The title was at first held by the Bradgate branch until it descended to his cousin Harry, an Enville resident, on the death of the 2nd Earl. His son (also Harry) became the 4th Earl and decided to make Enville his home. The Bradgate house accordingly, was bricked up and the park retained for hunting and game.
The 4th Earl began work, assisted by Sanderson Miller, an architect from Warwickshire and local poet, William Shenstone. The resulting great landscape garden in an already naturally beautiful area of hills, pools and streams became the envy of high society from the 1750s onwards, extending to over 750 acres with a variety of buildings, cascades and bridges.
"How sweetly smiled the hill, the vale
And all the landscape round!
The river gliding down the dale
The hill with beeches crown'd"
|Giant Purple Beech|
It was the 5th Earl who completed the park in the 1770s before modernising the house. There are suggestions that Capability Brown had a hand (perhaps he signed off on work carried out by one of his minions). Plans for a new Palladian mansion were drawn up by Sir William Chambers, but the 5th Earl opted for a design created by Thomas Hope. The original Tudor country house was encapsulated within a gothic castellated frontage which is what remains today (glimpsed here in November 2021).
Two years ago, after a break of around two decades, we were frustrated to have missed out on Enville Hall's decision to open its gardens to the general public, being away on holiday at the time. So you can only imagine my excitement when, a couple of weeks ago, I spotted a sign in the village advertising another open day on 4th June. This time, not only the gardens (listed as a Grade II landscape on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens) were open, but there was a Coronation Exhibition on in part of the hall. I wasn't so interested in the exhibition, but a chance to catch a glimpse of the interior? Yes please. Desperate to see and visually document everything in full, this date was immediately scrawled and underlined on the calendar.
Post viral fatigue aside, the perfect sunny day dawned and we met up with my Mom and Gareth's Dad after lunch for a leisurely stroll around the pleasure gardens, or as Gareth's Dad phrased it "We'm goin' up to the big 'ouse to collect our wages."
Fancy joining me? Warning. This is a photo heavy post!
Let's first venture inside.
A first for me and whilst the access granted was limited, isn't it divine?
|Mom taking in the views|
|Chair arm detail|