This week I went to The Vyne which is about an hour’s drive from central London or 45 minutes by train to Basingstoke and a short cab ride. It’s a fine country house with extensive grounds so we enjoyed exploring the house and taking a decent walk on the woodland trail.
The house is 16th century, built for Henry V111’s Chamberlain Lord Sandys so the origins of the house are Tudor although many changes and additions were made by subsequent owners. The imposing front opens out onto lawns leading to a tranquil lake and is missing the two Tudor side wings that used to lead down to the water but were lost when the house was bought by the the Chute family in 1653 after the Civil War. The house remained in the Chute family right through until 1956 when it was left to the National Trust.
|Imposing portico with lawns down to the lake|
The house has many rooms which date from the Tudor times when Henry V111 used to visit with two of his wives but not at the same time of course! Elizabeth 1st was also a visitor so it has very royal connections. It’s amazing to tread the floors that they trod and see the wooden panelled rooms they lived in so many centuries ago.
You may be wondering why it is called The Vyne and they story is that in the time of Emperor Probus AD 276-282, the Romans first brought vines to England and it was here at the site of current Vyne that the first ones were planted.
The furniture and artefacts are from a later period than the Tudor era and include a small cabinet with a ring in it, known as the Vyne Ring which dates from Roman times and has an inscription on it. The ring is supposed have a curse and you would think no more of it except that JRR Tolkein worked as an adviser on the archaeological dig so knew about the ring – perhaps this got him thinking!
The rear of the house is also an entrance as they changed them over once a road was built and the carriages would make their way with their guest more easily to this side of the house.
|The rear, now the front of the house!|
Inside the house you get a real feel of a different era and for those of you who watch Downton Abbey on the TV or are fans of period drama, these bells tell the story of how life was very much split between ‘upstairs’ ringing for service and ‘downstairs’ rushing to oblige!
The extensive grounds are 13 acres so have plenty of space for short strolls or walks of several miles through old woodland and a chance to enjoy a bird hide giving views over a large area of wetland so don’t forget your binoculars, as we did! A 17th century summer house is part of the more formal gardens and you can even see the vines although I’m not sure how old they are, probably not dating from Roman times….. They grow significant amounts of fruit and vegetables so the food served in the tea house is made from fresh, very local ingredients.
|The summer house|
|Beautiful views in the grounds|
The Vyne is well worth a visit for a day out from London and if you want to find out more have a look at the National Trust website.