Chavenage House, near Tetbury

Friday 27th April 2018

Chavenage House

Chavenage is a family home (no, not the Poldark family) but the home of the Lowsley-Williams family. It was a great privilege to be shown around the house by George, who has lived there all his life. He was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the history of the house, that his two hour guided-talk flew by. The house has been used as a location for many films and television programmes. George, as a young boy, met many famous actors and has many anecdotes about them. He came home from school one day to find David Suchet (Hercule Poirot) attempting to learn the Belgian national anthem by whistling it!
Most visitors want to know about the filming of Poldark, but the history of the house with its connections to Oliver Cromwell and its ghost stories related to Charles I are much more interesting.
This ghost story is taken from the Chavenage website. It is certainly worth following the link below to read more.

After the cessation of hostilities whilst Charles I was imprisoned, it became apparent to Cromwell that the King would have to be executed in order to stop any form of Royalist uprisings. To this end he sent General Henry Ireton to Chavenage, to try to persuade Colonel Stephens to add his support to the regicide. Eventually Ireton obtained from Stephens his very reluctant acquiescence.

Shortly after his daughter Abigail returned from having passed the New Year elsewhere, she, in a fit of horror and anger, laid a curse on her father for bringing the name Stephens into such disrepute. The story goes that the Colonel was soon taken terminally ill and never rose from his bed again. When the Lord of the Manor died and all were assembled for his funeral, a hearse drew up at the door of the manor house driven by a headless man, and the Colonel was seen to rise from his coffin and enter the hearse after a profound reverence to the headless personage, who as he drove away assumed the shape of the martyr King, Charles I – this being regarded as retribution for the Colonel’s disloyalty to the King. Thereafter until the line became extinct, whenever the head of the family died, the same ghost of the King appeared to carry him off.

Read more about the history of Chavenage on this website:


Rousham House, Bicester

22nd May 2018

‘Still very much a family home’

As most of us live in houses which are of comparatively recent build but which may have been home to families in no way connected  with each other, it is always interesting to visit a house and gardens  which have belonged to the same family for generations ..,…especially if, as at Rousham, the present owner is one of the same family who built the house in 1635. A small party of NT members visited this house and gardens with its many examples of the influence of the great designer, William Kent (1685 -1748) and we were given a tour guided by the wife of the present owner who is very conscious of the historical significance of her home.  It is a fascinating house but still very much a family home with portraits hundreds of years old in the same rooms as piles of modern books and photographs of the present generation, giving a warm and  welcoming feeling.  The grounds and gardens, which are largely as they were designed by Kent, following their beginning by Charles Bridgman, are a rare unspoilt example of his work with many interesting  and unusual features…..statues, temples, water features ….all as he meant them to be. To add to the interest in the estate, there is a herd of rare Long Horn cattle and some beautiful miniature poultry.  No tea room but wonderful views for picnics and car parking  close to the house. As usual, Pam had given us a great deal of background information  to equip ourselves for an understanding of the house before our visit…thank you, Pam.
Alison Beardwood