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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Coughton Court, a patchwork property.

Coughton Court is a beautiful building or many different styles. You walk up to the door through a lovely Tudor looking courtyard, with a fountain in the middle and plant beds running down either side and enter through a medieval gate house. However looking at the house from the other side you could be forgiven for thinking it was a different building!

Like Charlecote Park, Coughton is also still home to the same family that has owned it for generations.

Coughton plays on the connection it has to the gunpowder plot. The Throckmorton family were an extensive and powerful family for several centuries. They were Catholics in a very protestant world and as such members of the large family were often involved in plots to bring Catholicism back to England, often by attempting to remove the current monarch in favour of a Catholic with strong claim to the throne.

Again the first thing that caught my attention in the house was a pietra dura table, however it was distinctly less fancy than Charlecote's. It had a charm of it's own however and bears the families coat of arms.

I was quite impressed that the runner on the stairs also bears the families coat of arms!

The staircase displays portraits of the family. The tour leads visitors to the top of the building first, then allowing you to explore each room on the way back down.

Part of the tour also includes going out onto the roof in the center of the building. Visitors climb a spiral staircase to get up to the roof which is all very exciting! The weather was lovely so I could really appreciate the view.

I enjoyed the fact that there were very few ropes and stanchions, you could walk right into the rooms and explore them. I know this is often not possible in houses so it feels like a real treat when you visit somewhere you can explore in this way.

There was one room dedicated to interpretation about the various plots that the Throckmorton family has been linked to. The information was very interesting but I'm not sure I liked the 'cage' display piece in the room.

It made the room very small and meant I had trouble reading all the information without feeling like I was in someone's way.

In contrast there was a really well done piece of interpretation in the Dining Room remembering those who lived and worked at Coughton and died during the First World War.

The dining table is set with a place for each man from the estate who died during the First Word War. In the center is a flower arrangement where each flower ha been created out a paper, copies of documents relating to the men and the war. 

The table is laid really nicely and by each setting is a photo of the man being commemorated. On the back of his chair hangs a piece of fabric with the individuals story. In the corner of the room is a display case with artifacts relating to the men, and next to that a table with reproductions of photos, medal cards and other documents for people to read.

The next room along from the Dining Room was full of interesting items, some lovely embroidery, and beautiful cope that in a very nice purpose built display case, and more religious artefacts. This room displayed the catholic relics the Throckmorton had kept safe over generations, despite the risk of persecution they faced for practicing their faith.

The cope is said to be the work of Catherine of Aragon, and it was conserved in 2001 by Blickling Conservation Studio, so looks wonderful!

Also in this room was the chemise Mary Queen of Scotts was wearing when she was executed. I had no idea this was housed in a Trust property so me and um were quite excited when we found this. I don't know how sure they are it is definitely Mary's chemise, it was given to the Throckmorton family in 1820, over 230 years after Mary's execution. The embroidery on the front is in Latin and makes that claim that the garment was Mary's, and who am I to argue with embroidery?

The Saloon is the last main room on the tour, and then you exit the building through a hallway that looks like it is used by the family that still live there, boots are sat around, coats hung up and umbrellas and walking stick lent up against the wall. It was quite strange to leave such a grand house through such a normal, homey looking area.

There are also two churches in the grounds, although we just popped in one as time was getting on. The church we visited was St. Peter's, completed in the late 1500's. My favourite part of this church was the stained glass window which looks to have been broken at one point and pieced back together at a later date, but in a very patchwork kind of manner. 

It looked quite striking, even if it wasn't what was originally intended.

A  bit like that stained glass window Coughton is a real patchwork, not only does the exterior look like several different buildings tacked together, the interior houses such a varied collection and it seems to be a house of many parts. 

Though the families' deep sense of religion runs through the whole visit there seems to be very little coherence, but I actually quite liked that as although there was no one 'feel' there was lots of interest and beauty in the house and grounds. Each room had a different style and story making a visit to Coughton a very interesting one.

1 comment:

  1. I hope my signing up worked, I didn't want to become part of Google +. I just typed in my email. This was a very interesting post and hope to stay connected as I have such busy summer work schedule, but then make friends "last" during the other seasons! Smiles, Robin