Chastleton is an exceptionally well-preserved Jacobean house, barely modernised because the family who owned it for nearly 400 years were always short of money.
Rare Jacobite memorabilia and original textiles contribute to the romantic air of decline that has been maintained since the National Trust took over in 1991.
Chastleton was built between 1607 and 1612 by Walter Jones, a lawyer and MP. His home's impressive exterior and lavishly decorated rooms were matched by an up-to-date garden design of walled courts that still survives.
Walter's descendants never had the funds to follow architectural fashions, so Chastleton has remained remarkably unaltered. Its symmetrical grandeur marks it out as an important example of elite Jacobean taste from a time when English architecture was making the transition from medieval traditions to classically inspired forms.
The interior boasts a spectacular Long Gallery with barrel-vaulted ceiling, richly ornamented Great Chamber and exquisite wall coverings, as well as a kitchen that retains original Jacobean fittings despite having been in use until the 20th century.
Chastleton's other claim to fame is as the cradle of that quintessentially English sport, croquet. Victorian owner Walter Whitmore-Jones wrote the game's definitive rules in 1865 and went on to win the first ever croquet championship.
In 1991, the National Trust took over the house and has aimed to conserve and stabilise the property while keeping the wonderfully faded character that makes Chastleton such a special place.
Richly illustrated with new photography, this lively book is complemented by a family tree, fl oorplans and a bird's-eye view of the house and garden.
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