Ragley Hall


27 August 2006



Teresa had visited Ragley before, but it was new to the rest of us.  The weather was kind for the day – bright sunshine, and a pleasant temperature for walking through the house and gardens.






Ragley Hall, home of the Marquess of Hertford, is a fine Palladian mansion built in the 17-18th Centuries.  The original design was by Robert Hooke, the eminent scientist and rival of Isaac Newton.  Other notable architects and designers were responsible for subsequent developments and additions.


The owners – the Seymour family – are a branch of the same Seymour family who first owned Sudely Castle, of local interest to us.



We gather before touring the house itself.  No photographs allowed inside!


We saw in turn:  the Great Hall (designed by James Gibbs), the Music Room, the Breakfast Room, the Dining Room, the Mauve Drawing Room and the Red Saloon (both designed by James Wyatt – who was also responsible for Broadway Tower), the Green Drawing Room, the Prince Regent’s Bedroom and the Library. 


The upstairs rooms are not open to visitors, but the South Staircase Hall is, and has been embellished by a vast modern mural, The Temptation, painted by Graham Rust, based on a biblical theme, but including portraits of all the current family and their pets.




Proceeding to the gardens, we passed the Game Larder and Ice House (left), the latter heavily insulated by an earthen mound.


The gardens, designed by ‘Capability’ Brown, are a pleasing mix of the formal and informal.



Most of our pictures were taken in the Rose Garden to the west of the house.  Unfortunately, Teresa had forgotten to take her plug-in memory for the camera, so we ran out of space after this.


The West Front of the house is in the background




For some reason, we seemed to find large urns particularly photogenic that day.




The family have decorated the gardens with sculptures of their children – this is one of the daughters at the side of a conservation area.


Before we left, Juliet and Teresa went round the Adventure Wood, but declined to go into the Maze (where apparently it is all too easy to get lost).





Splendid and extensive as the property is, we did not feel it held such a particular interest as, for example, Hidcote or Snowshill, both creations of a single unusual individual. 


Perhaps the most interesting part of the visit was Stable Courtyard – the extensive stable block, which also houses a collection of old carriages.  And, particularly of interest to Jay, we saw the noble children take out their horses for their daily hack round the estate.


The brochure, incidentally, was an expensive extra at £3.50, but useful for the photographs and commentary on all the main rooms mentioned above.  However, though there is a fulsome history of the family, running to six pages, and a further five pages from the family photograph album, there is little on any wider historical significance.  Of the principal creators, Robert Hooke is described merely as ‘the architect’, and no further information is given on James Gibbs; Wyatt is named simply as ‘Wyatt’, though a Google search shows that several members of the family achieved prominence as architects, it being James who studied the Palladian style in Venice and was involved at Ragley.


Ragley Hall:  website


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