Our summer outing on Saturday June 23 was to Whittington Court near Cheltenham. Whittington is a small Tudor manor house with Jacobean and later additions. The present house,believed to sit on the site of a much earlier manor, was probably started by Richard Cotton of Carmarthen, with later additions built by subsequent generations of the Cotton family through the 16th and 17th centuries.The mother of the present owner Jenny Stringer inherited it unexpectedly from her godmother, and found herself the possessor not only of a house massively in need of repair, but also of much of an estate village where the houses lacked even the basic services! We saw photos showing just how much work needed to be carried out, and were impressed by how much has indeed been done in the last 20 years or so.
At the beginning of our visit a local resident gave us a fascinating and frequently highly amusing introduction to the house’s complicated history, and highlights of the tour itself included the dining hall, the most complete part of the early house with its four-centred arch chimney piece of around 1590; the library in the east wing with its elaborate and ambitious Renaissance fireplace; and the massive oak staircase dating from before 1637 (with its rare early dog gate!).
The house contains some interesting furniture as well as a substantial collection of glass, ceramics, textiles, minerals and fossils, Egyptian artefacts and books. Much of this came from the personal collection of Jenny’s father, a noted museum curator and collector.
The day also had its culinary highlights! Many of those going on the tour had lunch beforehand at the Craven Arms in Brockhampton, and the afternoon ended with the possibility of home-made cakes at Whittington Court – in the attractive garden, for those tempted by a sunny afternoon!