Owned by one family dating back to the 16th century
Corsham Court at the heart of Corsham
Corsham Court is another one of those places I have never gotten around to visiting. On the day I visited Corsham to write about the lovely old High Street and surrounds, it was a perfect time to take a tour.
The house is Elizabethan, dating from 1582. The earliest records of a house on this site date back to 978 AD, when the house was a summer palace for the Kings of Wessex. It became a dowry of the Queens of England until Elizabeth l granted a leasehold interest. One of the Queen’s subjects, Thomas Smythe, built the manor house, which he completed in 1582. His house is still at the core of the house today, which has been remodelled several times. Originally, it was built on an E-plan, on an east-west axis and was 120 feet by 30 feet—more about the changes that followed later.
When walking up the driveway, the south-facing front is impressive, built in an E-shape so popular in that era. Entry to the property is about halfway along the original long driveway, which begins at Lacock Road and is no longer used for vehicles. I start my journey from the small car park shared with the church.
From the car park, I walk through the archway with large old houses on either side and along the drive past the riding 16th or possibly 17th-century stables of the riding school. It was a hot day, and it was nice to step inside the hallway of the house. I parted with ten of the finest British Pounds and obtained my ticket. What would those Elizabethans and later residents think about our plastic money?
Corsham Court comes with a large estate. The grounds stretch eastwards towards Chippenham and include a lake. See below for details on the Corsham Court website regarding the size of the estate.
The Corsham Estate today extends to about 2,500 acres (1,000 hectares) and comprises five let farms, more than 100 individually let houses and cottages together with a dozen or so other properties, including workshops, offices and High Street shops. In addition, the Estate includes Corsham's Lacock Road football and rugby club grounds, the cricket pitch and bowls green.
There are three dairy units on the Estate and a sheep flock of about 2000 ewes. Arable land sustains crop rotations of wheat and barley with oilseed rape, beans and peas typically being grown as break crops.
In-hand woodland comprises mainly blocks of deciduous trees planted and maintained primarily for amenity.
Corsham Court’s Picture Gallery
Corsham Court, for the visitor viewing the inside of the home, is all about the collection of fine paintings. Visitors are confined to the ground floor, essentially in the east wing. From the entrance hall, there are paintings and some other objects along the corridor heading towards the Picture Gallery. Everyone is given a booklet listing the paintings, which are numbered to allow you to know who and when painted them. Art lovers will love this house and its collection of paintings.
The Picture Gallery was created in 1760 by Lancelot “Capability” Brown, more famed for his garden designs. Brown doubled the bay windows of the projecting wings of the south-facing house (that which you see when walking up the drive). The light was important; those pictures needed to be seen! Today, sunlight is kept to a minimum to protect the artwork.
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