Built: completed in the 16th Century
Location: Coughton, Alcester B49 5JA
History: Coughton Court estate has been owned by the Throckmorton family since 1409. It was acquired through marriage to the De Spinney family, but it was rebuilt by Sir George Throckmorton.
Interestingly, the great gatehouse at Coughton was dedicated to King Henry VIII by Throckmorton. This time period is really important though, as 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 Catholics therefore 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 Trust since 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.
Review: The days when travelling was “normal”, the good old days I suppose. Luke and I visited here the other year. We had a full on day of exploring, and also visited Baddesley Clinton the very same day (we were desperate for an adventure I think).
There are two houses which we were both hugely impressed with, and will probably return to when we next can. We also would like to visit Packwood house which is in the same area. But I suppose for now we will have to wait until we can travel again.
Anyway, back to Coughton Court…
This place is magnificent – it allows you to go back to Tudor times whilst you explore the historic buildings, including the interiors and newly created gardens.
The drive up to this place wasn’t too difficult, but I remember there was an idiot car driving too close behind us (why can’t people leave decent gaps whilst out driving?) and the turn into Coughton Court did catch us by surprise, but luckily it all turned out fine in the end.
Driving up the road to the car park, we caught a glimpse of the impressive building and our excitement shot up hugely. Luke and I hadn’t explored a historic home in a long time, and although we knew we still had to be safe, wear a mask and keep our distance, we really couldn’t wait to go explore the inside (this was around August/September time so things were kind of okay back then).
There was a ticket booth at the entrance of the car park, and the man behind the glass was very helpful in showing us where we needed to go, what walks we could do and things that we could look out for. We even managed to get a very handy map of the place as well (which showed all the different walks and things). I thought it looked very well organised, plus it folded up neatly as well.
Initially, we thought that we would quite like to go for a walk, but then we decided that since things were quite quiet we wanted to go and enjoy the house first.
This was the first part that hugely impressed us. We learned that the gatehouse at Coughton was built in 1536. To either side of the gatehouse are two wings which bend around to the rear to form a courtyard. There was originally a fourth wing, completing the courtyard square, but this wing was destroyed in 1688.
We entered the house from here, masks on, hand sanitised, and a lovely volunteer gave us a quick rundown of the history of this house, and I have to say that it was truly fascinating. I love coming to houses like this, and without even needing to ask, the volunteers just tell you everything that you need to know – I love a good history lesson!
We did learn that some of the house would be closed unfortunately, but me and Luke don’t mind so much as it just gives us a great reason to return again when things are opened up/safer.
After being told that one wing was actually lived in (lucky people), we were pointed in the direction of the “right” wing and made our way up these stairs.
There were plenty of photos going up, and what I loved was (thanks to modern technology), was that you could use your phone to scan the code on a photo and learn more about it – you don’t need to touch anything, so I thought that that was a really nice little touch.
At the top of the stairs, we entered probably one of my most favourite dining rooms ever.
Admittedly, there was an Autumnal theme going on in this room, but I actually really loved it. It just really helped complete the room, and made it that little bit different.
There was another volunteer in this room, and again we learned some great history about this place. Mainly about the people who were married at Coughton Court, and live in the other wing. We learnt more about the ‘family album’ of portraits and Catholic treasures around the house thanks to this volunteer.
It is clear that Coughton is still very much a family home with an intimate feel and the family still manage the stunning gardens which they have created (I’ll talk about the gardens later).
The next room was absolutely fascinating though.
There are several “historical relics” in this room, and I use the term historical relics very loosely here. You can find a cope that was embroidered by Catherine of Aragon, and the chemise worn by Mary, Queen of Scots to her execution. I don’t have a picture of it, but it’s pretty astonishing if it is indeed the one she wore.
Although this room was small, it was more the items inside it that were of interest.
There were plenty of signs to read in this room, and I do think it’s important to take the time to read things like this, otherwise you would miss out on a load of information.
We easily spend 15/20 minutes in this one little room, just taking everything in.
Next though, we entered the Saloon.
What isn’t pictured above, is the incredible Tudor staircase. It’s important to point out though that the Elizabethan double staircase is not original to Coughton. It actually comes from nearby Harvington Hall, another Throckmorton family home (I wish I took a picture of the stairs, but I suppose that just means that you’ll have to visit, when safe to do so of course).
This was the end of what we got to see of the house unfortunately. But I know that there is so much more to see, so when things are a lot safer and the rest of the house is opened up, me and Luke will definitely be going back.
There is still more to enjoy away from the house though – there’s the gardens to enjoy, and what a treat they are.
Not only just the gardens, but you can also stroll through the ancient woodland, to be found awash with bluebells in the spring. There were no bluebells when we went, obviously, as the time of year was wrong.
The woods were a short walk away from the house, but be warned, if you don’t have a waterproof coat (like me and Luke), you will get soaked if it rained… and it absolutely poured as we made our way over to the woods.
We huddled under the trees for several minutes, and although we were kinda stuck in the woods for a bit, it still made us laugh, and that’s a memory I will probably never forget.
The woods are full are fun things to do though – and as you can clearly see from the photos with Luke, he was very entertained 😀
When the rain finally did stop, we walked all around the woods and that felt like we were in our own little world, so that was a nice thing, we then continued walking around the area and just taking in all the views.
You can easily spend all day here, just be prepared to do a lot of walking (walking boots are a must) and enjoy yourself.
You can try one of the beautiful trails around Coughton Court and the surrounding Warwickshire countryside. But please note many of the walks are dog friendly, however dogs are not allowed in the House, Cafe, Garden, Stableyard and toilets.
After walking around the wood you can either retrace your steps, if you have little ones with you, or go on a bigger adventure through a field and a ford.
You can explore the beautiful gardens of the Tudor Coughton Court, before a lovely waterside stroll along the River Arden on this walking route in Warwickshire. The grounds include the walled garden, lake, knot garden, vegetable garden, orchard and bog garden. You can then continue through the meadow and the pretty bluebell wood before joining the Arden Way towards Spernall. You then return to the house with a waterside stretch along the River Arden.
These walks are what make Coughton so special – there is so much do and see.
The last thing that me and Luke looked at was the church at Coughton – although not open there was just something so special about it.
And that’s that!
Coughton Court – an incredible place really, and one that me and Luke really need to revisit. There’s just something so special about this place. And another thing that makes Coughton Court really special? It’s something that I think rarely gets the appreciation that it deserves – is the AMAZING volunteers!
The volunteers truly do make trips like this just so much better, the history they know, the stories they tell, it all makes visiting these places so worthwhile.
Yes, they kept their distance (and so did we), yes we were all wearing masks, and there were parts to the house that we didn’t get to see. But this trip to Coughton Court was truly specular, I can’t wait to go back!
Have you been to Coughton Court? Or have I now inspired you to visit once travel becomes safe again?