If a house has names like Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Jane Austen in its visitors book, you know you are in a pretty special place. Dances held at The Vyne were attended by Jane and her sister Cassandra, as their nephew Edward had married into the family that owned the house in the 1820’s. It is easy to imagine Jane Austen, known for her wit and sense of fun, dancing the two step in this beautiful house. The Vyne Basingstoke, holds a lot of the local area’s history, and is now looked after by The National Trust. Stepping in through the huge oak doors, into an elaborate hallway that will stop you dead in your tracks, hints at the specialness of this stately home…..
The Vyne Basingstoke
The beautiful 16th century tudor house, is impressive from the first glimpse of it. Driving down the leafy lane that approaches this historical house in the Hampshire countryside, you see the red-bricked mansion for the first time. It is imposing in its stature and the positioning of it in the centre of the 13 acres of immediate grounds, mean it is flanked by natures beauty.
The original entrance to the house, impressive in its neo-classical style, was where guests on horseback, Poldark style, would arrive. When times and transport changed, and guests began to arrive at the house by carriage, the entrance to the house was moved to the opposite side of the property, which is now the “road side”.
The house was built in the 1500’s for Lord Sandy. William Sandy was an important man, and had rose through the ranks to become Lord Chamberlain to Henry VIII. In fact, Henry VIII visited the house three times, and his daughter, Elizabeth I visited once. The Sandy family owned the house, which was a more palatial affair than the house is today, until the civil war in the mid 1600’s changed their fortunes. The house was sold to a wealthy barrister, Chaloner Chute, (who rose to become the speaker in the House of Commons) and he made many changes. The home remains in the Chute family up until today, although is now managed by The National Trust.
The Vyne Basingstoke has many features that were “firsts” in England. Neo-classical was a popular style of the family and the dome of the summerhouse represents this beautifully. This, along with the Oak Gallery on the ground floor were rare at the time, so you will find that the phrase “one of the earliest” pops up a lot when talking about the finer details of The Vyne. If you are a fan of architecture and detail, you will love The Vyne. I have a thing for beautiful ceilings, and this house does not disappoint. From its striking Wedgwood blue and ivory ceiling in the entrance hallway, to the stunning detailing in the chapel, this house is just exquisite.
I was lucky enough to visit the house on a warm, late summers day. Meandering around the beautiful grounds, I took a moment to take a seat in one of the National Trust deck chairs that were scattered around. The long sloping lawns falling away from the house, lead to the edge of the narrow lake.
Sitting there, feeling the warmth of the sun, it was easy to imagine the garden parties and soiree’s that took place at the house. I could picture Henry VIII, perhaps accompanied by his wife Anne Boleyn, striding along the hallways. I could see him exiting out of the huge pillared doorway, his entourage bowing and scraping. I could imagine them keen to keep on his good side, the fear ever present of falling fowl of the King famed for his executions!
The walled garden to the left of the house fired my imagination also. In my minds eye, I saw Jane and Cassandra Austen, wandering the garden paths. The heady scent of the abundance of pink roses And meadow flowers accompanying their stroll. Perhaps they were laughing, carefree. Maybe they were even discussing who they would like to partner them in the next dance! It could even be that the house eventually ended up in the pages of one of Jane’s novels. After all, the house and its history could easily suit one of Ms Austen’s many characters.
A visit to The Vyne, Basingstoke is a fabulous way to spend a few hours. The house holds so many tales, so much important history, you really should go and discover it for yourself. I loved walking the hallways that these characters from our past walked. There are many events held at The Vyne too. For example, In October there is a Halloween walk for the younger visitors, along with behind the scenes tours of the house itself. They also have newly opened ares of the house, dipping into the Victorian era of the houses history.
This stately home is a fabulous place to visit, and of course National Trust members go in for free. You can see full details of membership here if you would like to know more. We have used our membership a lot, in all corners of the UK. I told you about another property that we visited in Our Day In Kent, so we are getting around. I think it really encourages you to see other parts of the Uk that you may otherwise not, so it has been great for us. I love that it allows me and my imagination temporary visits to other moments in time. For a dreamer like me, its a wonderful slice of time travel. What era next……..?