This is Deene Park,
- where the owner returned from lunch during our visit and was happily mingling with visitors;
- where a single soul welcomed us but due to lack of direction, cars ended up being parked in altogether the most inefficient manner possible in the garden; and
- where I couldn’t help admiring how many things were placed on window sills and side tables, almost willing a dishonest visitor to pocket a saucer and trinket. I’m sure those of Sutton Park would have a thing to say about possible thefts.
The house has been occupied and developed by the Brudenell family since 1514, from a medieval manor around a courtyard into a Tudor and Georgian mansion. Rooms ramble through ages and there is even a new Jacobean-style ceiling that has been added by the current owners.
The result is very welcoming despite the mini-museum at the bottom of the stairs, including a stuffed horse head. If I owned this house I would take that exhibition out because it detracts from the sense that the family just walked out of the door (which evidently they just had because they returned while we were there!).
This is the real experience that the Dennis Severs house tries to create.
The most flamboyant member of the family was the 7th Earl of Cardigan, who led the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava, and around the home many of the pictures and objects of interest centre around him.
Everywhere we went, absent a single house steward, D and I said “we could just pick that up and pocket it”. Really, I can’t believe this house is not “by guided tour only”. Good on them for having faith in human nature.
When visited: August 2012
House * out of 5: ****
Garden * out of 5: ***
Theme tune: This Old House