Wednesday, April 4

Apethorpe Hall

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As part of my course at the University, I recently visited Apethorpe Hall in Northamptonshire. A Grade I listed building of exceptional importance which is currently undergoing renovation. Dating from the 15th century the stately home has entertained Tudor and Stuart royalty, notably Elizabeth I and James I. The house contains one of the last remaining Jacobean interiors in England.
The estate is accessed through the village of Apethorpe, a quaint little village of thatch roofed cottages which is England at it’s very best. 
It was a surprisingly hot day for this time of the year and beautiful spring flowers were in bloom everywhere. We decided to walk through the gardens first which comprise of seven acres of meandering pathways leading through archways into formal lawns with topiary and lotus ponds, walled herb gardens, enchanted trees and sweeping meadows.
The gardens form a perfect setting for the breathtakingly grand mansion. Built in the late 15th century for Sir Guy Wolfston, who served as constable of the nearby royal castle at Fotheringey, Esquire of the body to Edward IV and sheriff as well as MP for Northamptonshire. In 1551, Sir Walter Mildmay who was to become Chancellor of the Exchequer acquired the property. He rebuilt the South Range to provide the state rooms where Queen Elizabeth I was entertained in 1566. Sir Francis Fane who married Mildmay’s  granddaughter, remodeled the state rooms and added a long gallery in fine Jacobean style in 1622-25 at the orders of King James I for his ‘more commodious entertainment and princely recreation’, The king provided Oak trees for the purpose from Rockingham forest. The house was clearly a favorite of the early Stuart Monarchs. There were at least thirteen royal visits between 1566 and 1636 – more than any other house in the county. There was also a hint of a scandal as it is said that it was at Apethorpe that James met George Villiers, his favorite and later to become Duke of Buckingham.

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