Chastleton House (Oxfordshire)

Feel the cold.

A National Trust house. A faded Jacobean house, tucked down a quiet lane. It was the subject of some controversy when the National Trust decided to open the house to the public on Sundays: Daily Mail.

A house that could be wonderful if the rooms were warmed and once again a home

With a cat.  Last “man” standing (ignoring the obligatory teasel!).  A reminder of the 20 cats that used to live there, with the last owner.

I wouldn’t want to be living here in January or February.  Perishing.

I was interested to walk its wonky stairs, but for me this is another house that would benefit from being a loving home, and I’m not sure that always giving a house to the National Trust, for them to leave it standing still, is the best thing to do.

The National Trust sell a visit to the house as one of a time capsule, where poverty has ensured preservation (which they’ve since cleaned and restored).  It is the same story as Calke Abbey or Boughton House.  We commented on the plants in the entrance porch, and were told by a proud NT volunteer that they are as the last owner would have had them, when she sold the property to the NT in 1991.

We took tea and cake in the 12th century church to the right of the drive, happy that local charities are able to take turns to advantage of an opportunity to raise funds.

After a quick look around the garden (it was pre-sprouting of anything, so there was just aged topiary), we made the 10 minute walk back up the hill through a field to the car park.

For me, this house has entered a darker period of its history, even more so that when it lay in neglect.  You may recognise it as a set for part of the BBC’s adaption of Wolf Hall, but it deserves more than to be a walk-through or a film prop.  Instead, it needs to be allowed to put on a nice dress, its lipstick, to stand with its rosy cheeks in a sunset.  I wonder if the National trust would let it rise to that in its wildest dreams?

A sad house.  It needs a curator to make it happy again.

When visited: March 2016


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