The entrance facade from "Morris's Views of Seats," circa 1875.
Side facades of the house
One of the galleries in the house
Capability Brown's Bridge in the park
The house on a blue and white platter
Earlier Houses: The lands and manor of Compton Murdak were granted to John Verney, Dean of Lichfield (an ancestor of the lords Willoughby de Broke), by Henry VI in 1440.
Built / Designed For: 12th Lord Willoughby de Broke
House & Family History: Since its creation in the early 18th century Compton Verney has had many alterations and additions, most of it performed by a virtual who's who of Britain's greatest architects—Robert Adam's 18th century work is particularly notable, as it joined the wings together with a delicate portico of giant unfluted Corinthian columns. Adam's two-story hall, with its coving by Gibson and plaster-frames containing Zucchi canvases of fantasy ruins was the star of the house (the coving and plaster frames remain; the Zucchi canvases were sold by the 2nd Lord Minton in 1931). Compton Verney is today primarily a Georgian Neoclassical house built around the earlier Baroque house, with modern additions made to accommodate the art gallery. The house went through many ownerships in the 20th century, particularly after occupation by the military during World War II, finally becoming semi-derelict in the 1980s and 90s. In 1993 Sir Peter Moores (whose fortune came from the family firm of Littlewoods, the retail and gambling company) purchased Compton Verney and spent £21 million converting the house into an art gallery. The new Compton Verney Art Gallery & Park was opened by Prince Charles on March 23, 2004.
Collections: Compton Verney today contains a fine collection of art formed by Sir Peter Moores, including Neapolitan paintings (1600-1800), Northern European works of art (1450-1650), British portraits, British folk art, and Chinese bronzes (the latter features over 70 ritual vessels and other bronzes of the period 1300 BC-100 AD). A recent acquisition, purchased from the Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, New York, is a Shang dynasty vessel (fang jia) decorated with the designs of an owl. Johann Zoffany's circa 1766 “John, 14th Lord Willoughby de Broke, and His Family," which shows the family in the breakfast room at Compton Verney (see "Images" section), was sold at Christie's on November 17, 1989 for £3,080,000. The painting, formerly at Compton Verney, is today in the collection of the Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
Garden & Outbuildings: Robert Adam's orangery of circa 1761-67 was demolished. Gibbs's pedimented nine-bay stables, complete with turret, is extant.
Chapel & Church: The chapel, designed by Capability Brown in 1772 in the delicate Adam style, is extant.
Architect: Henry HakewillDate: 1824
Architect: John VanbrughDate: 1714
Architect: Francis SmithDate: Circa 1714
Architect: Lancelot BrownDate: Circa 1765-78
Vitruvius Britannicus: C. V, pls. 43, 44, 1771.
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: 2.S. Vol. II, p. 7, 1855.
John Preston (J.P.) Neale, published under the title of Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. IV, 1821.
Country Life: XXXIV, 528 plan, 1913.
Title: Burke's and Savills Guide to Country Houses, Volume II: Herefordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire
Author: Reid, Peter
Year Published: 1980
Reference: pgs. 138-139
Publisher: London: Burke's Peerage
Book Type: Hardback
Title: Apollo (magazine)
Year Published: NA
Reference: May 2008, pg. 42
Publisher: London: Apollo Magazine Ltd.
Book Type: Magazine
Title: Smith of Warwick: Francis Smith, Architect and Master-Builder
Author: Gomme, Andor
Year Published: 2000
Reference: pg. 261
Publisher: Lincolnshire: Shaun Tyas
Book Type: Hardback
Title: Great British Paintings from American Collections: Holbein to Hockney
Author: Warner, Malcolm; Asleson, Robyn
Year Published: 2001
Publisher: New Haven: Yale Center for British Art
Book Type: Softback
Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - HARDBACK
Author: Colvin, Howard
Year Published: 2008
Reference: pgs. 51, 168, 421, 466, 943
Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
Book Type: Hardback
Title: Disintegration of a Heritage: Country Houses and their Collections, 1979-1992, The
Author: Sayer, Michael
Year Published: 1993
Publisher: Norfolk: Michael Russell (Publishing)
Book Type: Hardback
House Listed: Grade I
Park Listed: Grade II
Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSE: John Verney, 15th century; Greville Verney, 7th Baron Willoughby de Broke and de jure 15th Baron Latimer, until 1642; Greville Verney, 8th Baron Willoughby de Broke and de jure 16th Baron Latimer, 1642-48; Greville Verney, 9th Baron Willoughby de Broke and de jure 17th Baron Latimer, 1648-68; William Verney, 10th Baron Willoughby de Broke and de jure 18th Baron Latimer, 1668-83; Richard Verney, 11th Baron Willoughby de Broke and de jure 19th Baron Latimer, 1683-1711. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: George Verney, 12th Baron Willoughby de Broke and de jure 20th Baron Latimer, 1714-28; Richard Verney, 13th Baron Willoughby de Broke and de jure 21st Baron Latimer, 1728-52; John Peyto-Verney, 14th Baron Willoughby de Broke and de jure 22nd Baron Latimer, 1752-1816; John Peyto-Verney, 15th Baron Willoughby de Broke and de jure 23rd Baron Latimer, 1816-20; Henry Peyto-Verney, 16th Baron Willoughby de Broke and de jure 24th Baron Latimer, 1820-52; Robert John Verney, 17th Baron Willoughby de Broke and de jure 25th Baron Latimer, 1852-62; Colonel Henry Verney, 18th Baron Willoughby de Broke and de jure 26th Baron Latimer, 1862-1902; Richard Greville Verney, 19th Baron Willoughby de Broke, 1902-21; Verney family here from 1440 until 1921. George Miles Watson, 2nd Baron Manton, early 20th century. Mr. H. Elland, mid-20th century.
Current Ownership Type: Charity / Nonprofit
Primary Current Ownership Use: Museum
Ownership Details: Owned by Compton Verney House Trust and operated as a museum, art center, and park.