Wessex Attractions: Knightshayes

Knightshayes is a 19th century Gothic revival mansion in Tiverton, the work of the controversial architect William Burges (1827-81). It was built between 1869 and 1873, when the Gothic revival style was already going out of fashion. By the end of the 19th century, the style was frowned upon in much the same way that mid-20th century brutalist architecture is today.

The House was the seat of the Heathcoat-Amory family until the death of Sir John Heathcoat-Amory in 1972, when it was handed to the National Trust, which still maintains it.

The house was believed to contain a self-portrait by Rembrandt. However, whilst the portrait was bought by the Heathcoat-Amorys in good faith, art experts have recently concluded that it is a copy. with the original being displayed in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

The house’s extensive gardens are another attractive feature, particularly in the springtime. Its 2½ acre walled kitchen garden produces a wide variety of crops, including many rare varieties of tomato. which are harvested and sold in the cafe and shop.

The satnav postcode is EX16 7RH (follow the brown tourist signs from Tiverton), and Dartline bus route 398 from Tiverton to Dulverton passes within a mile of the house.