An 1885 print of the house from "Morris's Views of Seats"
The house from a circa 1919 postcard
The house, from across the lake, from an early 20th century postcard.
The inspiration for many of Arbury's Gothic interiors was the Henry VII Chapel at Westminster Abbey. This amazing space, built 1503-16, was called orbis miraculum ("the wonder of the world") after its completion.
Earlier Houses: Like many English country houses, Arbury has an ecclesiastical background; in the 14th century, during the reign of Henry II, Ralph de Sudeley founded an Augustinian monastery here. In 1536 the monastery was dissolved by Henry VIII and confiscated by the crown. In 1538 it was granted to Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I Arbury was purchased by Sir Edmund Anderson, a lawyer who demolished the old house and built anew. By 1586 Sir Edmund found Arbury inconvenient for his frequent need to be in London; thus, that year he exchanged the estate for Harefield Place in Middlesex, which was the property of John Newdegate.
Built / Designed For: Sir Edmund Anderson
House & Family History: In the 18th century Sir Roger Newdigate, a direct descendant of John Newdegate, rebuilt Arbury as the Gothic Revival house seen today. Sir Roger was a wealthy landowner, patron of the arts, and MP for Oxford for 30 years (from 1750 until 1780). Sir Roger made a drawing of the Roman arch at Aosta that was later (1774) used by Piranesi as the basis for an engraving. The Newdigate Prize for Poetry at Oxford was endowed by Sir Roger; he also presented, in 1776, to the University of Oxford two candelabrum reconstructed by Piranesi from antique fragments. George Eliot was born on the Arbury Estate, where her father was for many years the agent. Sir Roger Newdigate (and Arubury Hall) was immortalized in Eliot's book, "Scenes of Clerical Life," where he appears as Sir Christopher Cheverel in "Mr. Gilfil's Love Story." The famous Arbury Saloon was inspired by Henry VII's Chapel at Westminster Abbey.
Collections: The Long Gallery contains the chair and table used by Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, the father of Lady Jane Grey.
Comments: Arbury, one of the most complete and best preserved Gothic Revival houses in England, is often called the "Gothic Gem of the Midlands," or the "Strawberry Hill of the Midlands." Pevsner called the house "one of the finest examples of the early Gothic Revival in England."
Garden & Outbuildings: The house sits in the middle of a park with lakes and woods with rhododendrons, azaleas, and giant wisteria. The circa 1674 Stableblock, attributed to Sir Christopher Wren, is one of the architect's few works outside London. At Caumsett, the 1920s Marshall Field II estate on New York's Long Island, architect John Russell Pope designed the Stables in emulation of Wren's Stableblock at Arbury.
Architect: William Hiorne (Hiorns)Date: Circa 1748
Architect: Henry KeeneDate: Circa 1761
Architect: Henry CouchmanDate: 1776-89
Architect: Sanderson MillerDate: Circa 1750-52
Architect: William WilsonDate: Circa 1675
Architect: Christopher WrenDate: Circa 1674
John Bernard (J.B.) Burke, published under the title of A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. II, p. 13, 1853.
Country Life: XXXIV, 356, 1913. CXIV, 1126, 1210, 1414, 1953.
Title: John Russell Pope: Architect of Empire
Author: Bedford, Steven McLeod
Year Published: 1998
Reference: pg. 92
Publisher: New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.
Book Type: Hardback
Title: Arbury Hall Guidebook - 1985
Year Published: 1985
Reference: pgs. 1, 10, 13, 14, 15
Publisher: Derby: English Life Publications
Book Type: Light Softback
Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
Author: Colvin, Howard
Year Published: 1995
Reference: pgs. 496, 497, 573, 654, 699, 1064, 1091
Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
Book Type: Softback
Title: Best Buildings of England, The
Author: Pevsner, Nikolaus
Year Published: 1986
Publisher: London: Viking
Book Type: Hardback
House Listed: Grade I
Park Listed: Grade II
Current Seat / Home of: James Edward FitzRoy Newdegate, 4th Viscount Daventry; Newdegate (Newdigate) family here since the 16th century.
Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSE: Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk and 1st Viscount Lisle, 16th century. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Sir Edmund Anderson, 16th century. Sir John Newdegate, until 1610; Sir Richard Newdigate, 1st Bt., 1642-78; Sir Richard Newdigate, 2nd Bt., 1678-1710; Sir Richard Newdigate, 3rd Bt., 1710-27; Sir Edward Newdigate, 4th Bt., 1727-32; Sir Roger Newdigate, 5th Bt., 1732-1806; Francis Parker-Newdigate, 1806-62; Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Newdigate-Newdegate, 1887-1902; Sir Francis Alexander Newdigate-Newdegate, 1902-1936; John Maurice Fitzroy-Newdegate, 1936-76; Francis Humphrey Maurice FitzRoy-Newdegate, 3rd Viscount Daventry, 1976-2000.
Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust
Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home