Wessex Attractions: Farnborough Hall

Apologies in advance to anyone who uses this blog as a guide to days out (I'm sure there must be thousands of you). My magic blog post randomiser, which tells me what I'm going to blog about in any given week, has this week given me an attraction that is currently closed for the winter. But fear not, it will open again in April next year.

Farnborough Hall is a stately home near Banbury, home of the Holbech family for nearly 300 years, until it was sold to the National Trust in 1960. Built from honey-coloured stone by William Holbech in 1684, and extensively remodelled in the 1740s by his son, the imaginitively-named William Holbech the Younger. It remains a well-preserved example of a Georgian house, with a magnificent rococo drawing room, even if the paintings now on display are replicas of the originals, which had to be sold off in 1929.

The gardens were designed by Sanderson Miller (1716-1780), and based on the Ferme Ornée (ornamental farm) principle. Devised by Stephen Switzer (1682–1745), this simply meant farmland designed for aesthetic pleasure as well as practicality. The parkland contains several follies, including a game larder, a faux-classical Ionic temple, and a 60-foot Egyptianate obelisk.

The farm buildings were once home to a museum commemorating the Battle of Edge Hill, the first major battle of the English Civil War, which took place several miles to the north, over the Mercian border in Warwickshire. However, I was unable to find any recent references to it, so it may have been closed down.

The postcode for Farnborough Hall is OX17 1DU. Check the National Trust website for opening dates and times.

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