Yesterday my dear friend Elaine and I went to visit a private house.
This is Sezincote House, a stately English house, which was built in 1795 by Colonel John Cockerrell (grandson of Samuel Pepy’s) in a Neo-clasical, Neo-Mughal architecture. However, the interior is pure English country home.
This house is the private home of a young family, and, indeed, we heard children screaming with laughter and a movie playing from the open windows of the third floor. The rooms we could see into from the outside had children’s drawings hung up with scotch tape, and, at the end of the day, someone was playing the drums.
We walked to the house across a bridge with four Brahma bulls and looked down into a beautiful grotto garden which looked like the fabled overgrown morass of old India and Poe.
Walking up to the house and around to the Orangerie gave two impressions, one: it sure is a lovely exotic looking house and two: a family lives here.
Soon we were greeted by the family dog and cat who were greatly petted and entertained by the visitors. Friendlier than anything, they came for pets and the dog chased several tennis balls and other toys which the visiting children threw for him. He seemed to have endless energy.
Tea and cakes were served inside the Orangerie. The lady of the house loves the smell of jasmine and huge jasmine plants took centre stage on the walls.
Red and purple fuchsias grew in the open windows and I fell so in love with this space that I didn’t want to leave here.
There also were other exotic plants, such as gingers and passion fruits, and the entrance to the Orangerie had colourful stained glass details which were picked up by the colour of the fuchsias.
Did I tell you I loved the Orangerie? Lol, One more photo and I’ll stop. The ends of the gallery had mirrored windows extending the space. Don’t you love mirrors in garden spaces?
The house from the formal garden. I loved the lily filled reflecting channels and the central fountain.
Oops, I said I’d stop. Oh well, one more photo of the Orangerie.
Then it was time to meet fellow visitors at the front door for a tour of the house.
I’m sad to say that interior photos were not allowed. You know, I don’t understand this at all. If this were my home I’d love for people to take photos and share. It must bring some publicity and more visitors paying £5 per person for the tour. Oh well, I can describe it for you.
The interior was partially wrecked by Canadian (gulp) soldiers when the house was conscripted for service during WWII, but later renovated by the famed interior designer and decorator John Fowler of Colefax and Fowler fame. The interior is part fantasy, part English country-let’s-impress-with-the-best-marble-the-best-paintings-the-grandest-four-poster-beds-available.
There are several beautiful Aubusson tapestries, some valuable Chippendale and Biedermeier furniture pieces, some important paintings, marble staircases and golden coffered and vaulted ceilings, but the overall impression I got of the interior was of warmth, exotic grandeur and a wonderful fresh, exotic scent, which, I learned from the guide, was jasmine candles, (the favourite scent of the lady of the house).
This is the only interior shot I took (very naughtily) is of the entrance hall thru the glass-panelled front door. It shows some important paintings of the grounds plus the house by Thomas Daniell, and a replica Sezincote on the left side commode, which is actually the house cigar box! You can just see the sweeping marble staircase. Oh, and the sweetest thing, the very important Biedermeier chairs had a teasel seed head tied with a ribbon on the seat to prevent visitors from using them. I thought that was charming.
After our house tour Elaine and I stopped for a cup of tea and went for a walk thru the grounds. The grounds were designed by famed garden designer Humphry Repton.
There is a beautiful working farm on the estate but it was closed to visitors. It had a large clock tower and the clock chimed each quarter hour, so it was lovely to talk the garden listening to it chime. We walked past the elephants of the formal garden, walked past the little pavilion above the tennis court, past the front of the house along the ha-ha wall…
…to the grotto garden. In order to walk under the bridge you had to step on these cement stepping stones in the water. We walked under the bridge and found the loveliest cement bench int he middle of the stream and stopped there for a while and listened to the bubbling water.
The garden twists and turns along the stream which opens up into several small and one large pond. There are beautiful mature trees, some having swings hung from the branches, fields on either side with beautiful beige cows, and marsh type plantings.
We had the loveliest afternoon visiting this house and garden, got caught up on each other’s lives and then drove back home to Northmoor.