“Lady Throckmorton, she thinks she is the Pope” was what I was told by the NT volunteer when I enquired if the family are still Catholic. Oooh, miaaow. I get the feeling the Throckmorton family (who still live on site) are rather bitter/regretful of having given their home to the National Trust. Or, perhaps like at Sissinghurst, tensions stem from frustration with a tiresome struggle with National Trust bureaucracy and the family resent the fact that they could and should have been great, were it not for their loss of favour due to their continued dedication to their religion since Tudor times.
It seems Coughton (pron: “coat-an”) Court is ripe for a documentary series!
As Simon Jenkings says (and I had already concluded before consulting his tome), Coughton Court is all about Catholics, from the priest hole for allowing visiting fathers to hide and escape if caught leading service in the family’s private chapel after the Reformation when Catholicism was illegal, to the exhibit of religious clothing, finishing with the expansive early 20th century drawing room at the end of the tour, fashioned out of the family’s private chapel following the decriminalisation of Catholicism in the 19th century (see here for further reading). Thus, we see two stand-alone churches at Coughton – the official Protestant one and the Catholic one.
I think I could have taken photos inside but the interiors were so crowded I didn’t. I would certainly, however, recommend a visit and here are some NT pictures.
I approached Coughton Court (into which entry is by timed ticket only, so get there early (unless you have D with you, who managed to get us tickets by pointing to my sad eyes and explaining we’d driven specially all the way from Yorkshire…(cough)) with my HHA cards, because I thought this house was one of those where the house is NT and the garden HHA, but it seems a deal has been done and the gardens are now free to NT visitors.
And what a tulip display! I’ve never seen a field of tulips quite like it.
The house itself is centred around an ancient gate house, its wings projecting. Given that it was given to the NT in 1946 with a 300 year lease for the family, I would say the Throckmortons did rather well out of the deal and they have a rather splendid place to live (even amongst the hoards of tourists).
When visited: May 2014
Website (NT): http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/coughton-court/
Website (family’s): http://www.coughtoncourt.co.uk/