Hanbury Hall – beautifully disorganised

We decided [somewhat foolishly] to drive from Leeds to Wales to Lincoln over the course of two days, to spend New Year’s Eve with friends in Cardiff and then visit other relatives on New Year’s Day – we covered a fair few miles, but of course found time to stop off at a National Trust house in Worcestershire on the way. Excited for this one, we got out of the car and showed our cards, only to be told that the house was closed. Slightly disappointed, we decided to go to the café anyway (obviously) and maybe to walk around the gardens. So, we wandered up the drive of Hanbury Hall, and as we approached a lovely tour guide called out of the front door to ask us if we wanted to join a tour. Naturally, we did – when he said that we couldn’t, as it was full. Somehow, though, we ended up in the hallway of this beautiful house, and on a tour. We weren’t complaining, if slightly confused…

Hanbury Hall

Built in 1701, the house has a colourful history with many family stories and much scandal. We were taken through a number of the rooms on the ground floor and talked through the family history. The Christmas decorations were also pretty wonderful, with garlanding on the stunning stairs, which were painted by Sir John Thornhill, of St Paul’s Cathedral dome, the Painted Hall at Greenwich and Chatsworth fame. The legend has it that he and his painting team made a fair bit of mess, which resulted in him painting in the housekeeper’s face to one of the cherubs…

Painted staircase inside Hanbury Hall

The dining room was set for Christmas too, and the Vernon porcelain on display (the second lot; the first came back from China with a Chinese girl on the family crest, rather than the blonde they specified, so they had it remade..!)

Dining room at Hanbury Hall

The drawing room contained a beautiful early piano, an exact replica of Beethoven’s piano, upon which I badly attempted some Bach after everyone else had left [video on request].

Replica Beethoven piano at Hanbury Hall

We started and finished in the entry hall, with beautiful wood panelling, garlanding and wonderful Christmas tree, complete with musical paper chains!

Entrance hall at Hanbury Hall

We completed our visit, unsurprisingly, with sandwiches and tea in the great, but equally chaotic, café. It turned out to be a really lovely NT visit; definitely one we’d recommend, and everyone was very friendly – we’re just not sure they knew quite what was going on!

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