Local National Trust Properties

No. 1 - Coughton Court, Warwickshire

Coughton Court is an English Tudorcountry house, situated on the main road between Studleyand Alcesterin Warwickshire. It is a Grade I listed building.

The house has a long crenelatedfaçade directly facing the main road, at the centre of which is the Tudor Gatehouse, dating from 1530; this has hexagonal turrets and oriel windowsin the English Renaissancestyle. The gatehouse is the oldest part of the house and is flanked by later wings, in the Strawberry Hill Gothicstyle, popularised by Horace Walpole.

The Coughton estate has been owned by the Throckmorton family since 1409. The estate was acquired through marriage to the De Spinney family. Coughton was rebuilt by Sir George Throckmorton, the first son of Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton Court by Catherine Marrow, daughter of William Marrow of London. The great gatehouse at Coughton was dedicated to King Henry VIII by Throckmorton, a favourite of the King. Throckmorton would become notorious due to his almost fatal involvement in the divorce between King Henry and his first wife Catherine of Aragon.

Throckmorton favoured the queen and was against the Reformation. Throckmorton spent most of his life rebuilding Coughton.

In 1549, when he was planning the windows in the great hall, he asked his son Nicholas to obtain from the heralds the correct tricking(colour abbreviations) of the arms of his ancestors' wives and his own cousin and niece by marriage Queen Catherine Parr.

The costly recusancy(refusal to attend Anglican Church services) of Robert Throckmorton and his heirs restricted later rebuilding, so that much of the house still stands largely as he left it.

After Throckmorton's death in 1552, Coughton passed to his eldest son, Robert. Robert Throckmorton and his family were practicing Catholicstherefore the house at one time contained a priest hole, a hiding place for priests during the period when Catholics were persecuted by law in England, from the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth I of England.

The Hall also holds a place in English history for its roles in both the Throckmorton Plot of 1583 to murder Queen Elizabeth, and the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, although the Throckmorton family were themselves only indirectly implicated in the latter, when some of the Gunpowder conspirators rode directly there after its discovery.

The house has been in the ownership of the National Trustsince 1946. The family, however, hold a 300-year lease and previously managed the property on behalf of the Trust.

In 2007, however, the house reverted to management by the National Trust. The management of the property is renewed every 10 years. The family tenant was Clare McLaren-Throckmorton, known professionally as Clare Tritton QC, until she died on 31 October 2017.

The house, which is open to the public all year round, is set in extensive grounds including a walled formal garden, a river and a lake.

The gatehouse at Coughton was built at the earliest in 1536, as it is built of stones which came from Bordesley Abbeyand Evesham Abbeyafter the Dissolution of the Monasteries Actin 1536. As with other Tudor houses, it was built around a courtyard, with the gatehouse used for deliveries and coaches to travel through to the courtyard. The courtyard was closed on all four sides until 1651, when Parliamentary soldiers burnt the fourth (east) wing, along with many of the Throckmorton's family papers, during the English Civil War.

Taken from the roof-above shows the view to the gardens etc and below the view towards Studley Castle

After the Roman Catholic Relief Actwas passed in 1829, the Throckmorton family were able to afford large-scale building works, allowing them to remodel the west front.

In the grounds is St Peter’s church completed in the Renaissance Period c.1560-1590. The tower is mainly of perpendicular style of c.1450 but the main structure is Tudor style c.1500.

The present church dates mainly from the time of Sir Robert Throckmorton (1468-1518), although the list of clergy is continuous from 1339, and signs of an early structure can be seen at the base of the tower. The oldest part of the church is the font which took its present form in the 13thCentury It has been suggested that the middle comes from an earlier pillar and the base is an 8thCentury font turned upside down. The tower holds six bells, all cast at the same time and more than three hundred years old. Each bell carries an inscription e.g. 1stbell “Matthew Bagley made me 1686”; 2ndbell “Cantate Domino canticum novum1686 (Sing unto the Lord a new song) and 5thbell “Feare God and Honnor the King 1686”.

The new ringing gallery was installed in 1991, the bells having previously been rung from the ground floor.

In the middle of the Nave is a tomb with an unusual history. It was originally intended for the body of the builder of the church, Sir Robert Throckmorton, but he died on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1518. The tomb remained empty until 1791, when the body of Sir Robert Throckmorton, Fourth Baronet, was buried in it.

The cleaning and flower arranging in the church are all done by voluntary labour. The upkeep of the church and graveyard is the responsibility of the local community and no financial help of any kind is received either from Coughton Court or the National Trust.

Ed’s comment – If you haven’t already visited please find the time to go to this local attraction just 26 miles from Quinton. Be warned there are two staircases to climb to the top of the house and a very winding stone stairway to get onto the roof area with splendid views. My thanks again to Wikipedia for the narrative with photos from the BJT Archive.

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