DiCamillo Companion

Compton Verney (Compton Murdak)

  • House & Family History: 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 and remained in the Verney family's ownership until sold in 1921 by the 19th Lord Willoughby de Broke to the 1st Lord Manton. The House was built for George Verney, 12th Lord Willoughby de Broke, and has since had many alterations and additions, with most of the work performed by a virtual who's who of Britain's greatest architects -- Robert Adam's work of 1760 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 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, 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. The Chapel, designed by Capability Brown in 1772 in the delicate Adam Style, is also extant.

  • Architect: Henry Hakewill

    Date: 1824
    Designed: Internal alterations for 16th Lord Willoughby de Broke

    View all houses

    Architect: James Gibbs

    Date: 18th century
    Designed: Stables for Hon. John Verney

    View all houses

    Architect: John Vanbrugh

    Date: 1714
    Designed: West Range
    (Attribution of this work is uncertain)
    View all houses

    Architect: John Gibson

    Date: 1855
    Designed: Alterations to House

    View all houses

    Architect: Francis Smith

    Date: Circa 1714
    Designed: Probably rebuilt House to the designs of an unknown architect for 12th Lord Willoughby de Broke and the Dean of Windsor
    (Attribution of this work is uncertain)
    View all houses

    Architect: Lancelot Brown

    Date: Circa 1765-78
    Designed: ATTRIBUTED: Parkland and garden (circa 1765) and Bridge (1770-72). CONFIRMED: Chapel (1776-78), all for 6th Lord Willoughby de Broke.

    View all houses

    Architect: Robert Adam

    Date: Circa 1761-67
    Designed: Rebuilt north and south wings, added portico, formed Great Hall, and designed Orangery (demolished) for 14th Lord Willoughby de Broke.

    View all houses
  • 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
    ISBN: 0850110319
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Apollo (magazine)
    Author: NA
    Year Published: NA
    Reference: May 2008, pg. 42
    Publisher: London: Apollo Magazine Ltd.
    ISBN: NA
    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
    ISBN: 1900289385
    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
    ISBN: 0300092229
    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
    ISBN: 9780300125085
    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)
    ISBN: 0859551970
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II

  • "Flog It!" (2005 - BBC TV documentary series). "Flog It! Ten of the Best" (2008 - BBC TV documentary, episode 7, "Folk Art"). "Gambit" (2012 - as the art gallery in Lionel Shabandar's country house).
  • Past Seat / Home of: John Verney, 15th century; John Peyto-Verney, Lord Willoughby de Broke, 18th century; Barons Willoughby de Broke here 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 and art center.

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 01926-645-509

    Fax: 01926-645-501

    Email: info@comptonverney.org.uk

    Website: http://www.comptonverney.org.uk

    Historic Houses Member: No