Squerryes Court

Westerham, Kent, UK


Squerryes Court is a late 17th century manor house that stands just outside the town of Westerham in Kent. The house, which has been held by the same family for over 280 years, is surrounded by extensive gardens and parkland.

The site has been inhabited for at least 800 years. It was owned by the de Squerie family until the middle of the 15th Century. This family had a squirrel for their crest and it is thought they took their name from the place. The previous house, dating from medieval times, was torn down in 1681 and the present house built by Sir Nicholas Crispe, a London merchant.

In 1700, the property was sold by Sir Nicholas's son to Edward Villiers, 1st Earl of Jersey. The third earl sold it in 1731 to John Warde, whose great uncle Sir Patience Warde, had been Lord Mayor of London in 1680. Subsequently, his father also achieved that office as well as becoming one of the first Governors of the Bank of England.

The building, which is in early Georgian style, houses a fine collection of Old Master paintings from the Italian, 17th Century Dutch and 18th Century English schools, together with furniture, porcelain and tapestries. All of which were acquired or commissioned by the family in the 18th century. Items connected with General James Wolfe victor of the battle of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, and a friend of the Warde family, are also on display.

The house is set on a terrace and has a pleasingly proportioned central block of seven bays under a hipped roof. It is constructed of mellow orange brick. The original building was built flanked by two small wings forming a forecourt, but these were demolished and replaced in the 19th century. The replacement wings were themselves torn down after the Second World War and only the main block now remains.

The gardens at Squerryes Court cover some 10 acres (around 4 hectares) and include a dovecote, lake, gazebo and parterres. Just after the house was built, they were laid out in formal style. However, later towards the end of the 18th century they were transformed into the natural landscape style that was then fashionable. Following the great storm of 1987, the Warde family are in the process of transforming part of the garden back into the formal style based on the original plans and a print dated 1719.

The gardens, which can be visited along with the house, are beautiful all year round with spring bulbs, wild flowers, azaleas, summer flowering herbaceous borders and roses, together with woodland walks.

Article extracts taken from wikipedia

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