My friend Elaine dropped off a book at the cottage with instructions that I should read it as we shall go visit a great house. The book was The Mistress of Charlecote, the Memoirs of Mary Elizabeth Lucy. And I dutifully read it.
Mary Elizabeth could have stepped right out of a Jane Austin novel. She was the good a dutiful daughter from a well-to-do Welsh family, who was married at 20 to an older George Lucy. She cried and pleaded with her parents against her marriage, but Lucy had a great fortune of £10,000 per year and the estate, and her parents would not be moved. Her mother said, “Love WILL come when you know all of Mr Lucy’s good qualities.” and she did grow to love him, as her mother said she would, and together they had 8 children, (five died), and she lived in his ancestral home till she herself died at a ripe old age.
The book was an enchanting and, at times, heartbreaking read, and I’ve fallen completely in love with Mary Elizabeth, her husband George, all of the children, and this great house and park she called home.
The Lucy family have lived in this house since the 13C and have farmed fallow deer on the lands. Now, a herd of about 200 deer roam the park, which was redesigned by Capability Brown in the Victorian times.
And here is the Tudor house, (with extensive redesigns to Victorian flavour). I’ve taken this photo from the roof of the entrance gate.
Inside, most of the Tudor is gone, and that whole “throw in as many patterns and colours as possible” Victorian decoration abounds.
This is the sitting room with silk damask wall coverings and Mary Elizabeth’s harp.
Here is the dining room with silver and furniture gifted to the Lucy’s by Queen Victoria and various other nobles who stayed at the house on holidays. The amazing wallpaper is gilded and flocked.
Up the grand stairs hallway is a corridor with some bedrooms.
This was Mary Elizabeth and George’s bedroom, where all four children who were born there died. George also died in that bed.
Back down the stairs is the grand library. It contains original notes and first editions from Shakespeare! Can you believe it? As well as some illuminated books worth fortunes.
A formal garden to stroll in overlooking the park.
And just there, in dark brick, is a Victorian addition holding the grand library. (That is overlooking the formal garden.)
Just here is the river Dene, which joins the river Avon along another side of the park.
Isn’t this a dream house and park? I still want to show you the kitchens, the brewery and laundry and other lovely Charlecote parts. 😀