Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Montacute House, 1601

Elizabethan masterpiece in Somerset County, England, built 1588-1601. British designer Ben Pentreath was there  a few weeks ago and posted an amazing set of photographs.

Montacute was built for Sir Edward Phelips, a lawyer and Parliamentarian who was heavily involved in the design. The builder was William Arnold, master mason.

Phelips was a great partisan of James I and in 1604 he was Speaker of Parliament. These days he is mostly remembered for his ferocious persecution of religious dissenters, and his house.

The Phelips family held onto the house down to 1911, when time and chance finally caught up to them. They sold the family silver in 1895 to pay for the appearance of the last daughter on the social circuit. Alas, she failed to land a sufficiently wealthy suitor, and the family slid out of the gentry. The house was leased to a series of tenants until it was taken over by the National Trust. The house has lately starred in the BBC's production of Wolf Hall.

Among the masters of Montacute House was Sir William Phelips (1823-89), who was known as the Gambling Squire because he would bet on anything. He once lost a tidy pile betting on which one of a pair of flies crawling on a windowpane would reach the bottom first.

The library, formerly the great hall.

The gardens.

No comments: