Hanbury Hall is a rare survival indeed. It was created at the beginning of the 18th century, at a time when politics was more focused on that which divided than that which united. Hanbury Hall was a wealthy country squire’s answer to and retreat from the chaos that was threatening to engulf the country. Thomas Vernon thought he could master the uncertainty of the day and create security in a family home that could be passed down the generations. He succeeded in creating a fine house and ornate gardens, but his plans for a dynasty floundered.
The political pendulum continued to swing, and fashions came and went. No sooner than Hanbury’s gardens were laid out, naturalism was all the rage and swept away the old fondness for meticulous symmetry. The wealth that had been created was squandered. A daughter was married to a wealthy heir but one with regard for neither his wife nor her family’s legacy. Thomas Vernon’s dreams of a dynasty were never to materialise.
In the 20th century, however, Hanbury was saved for the nation in 1952 thanks to an anonymous benefactor with a fondness for William and Mary style houses. The National Trust set about restoring and repairing Hanbury Hall inside and out: Thomas Vernon’s showpiece wall paintings by Sir James Thornhill and his London and Wise designed garden have both been restored to their former glory, for a new generation of visitors to admire. Some of Thomas Vernon’s legacy lives on after all.
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