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Cottesbrooke Hall

  • Earlier Houses: There was probably an earlier house on, or near, the site of the current house.

    Built / Designed For: Sir John Langham, 4th Bt.

    House & Family History: Reputedly the inspiration for Jane Austen's "Mansfield Park," the lovely red brick Cottesbrooke is a near-perfect example of Queen Anne architecture. With the exception of some minor changes, the house has remained virtually unchanged since it was built in the early 18th century. The Cottesbrooke Estate was purchased in 1635 by Sir John Langham, 1st Bt., a rich London merchant and MP. His descendant, Sir John Langham, 4th Bt., built the current house, possibly to the designs of the famous "Smith of Warwick," in the early 18th century. By the late 19th century the Langham family had fallen into straightened financial circumstances and were forced to let Cottesbrooke; one of their most famous tenants was the Princess Diana of her day: The Empress Elisabeth of Austria (wife of Emperor Franz Joseph); the empress leased the house in 1877 to ride to hounds in Northamptonshire (she was noted for her love of riding). In 1911 the Langhams moved permanently to Ireland and sold the Cottesbrooke Estate to Captain Robert Bingham Brassey, MP. In 1937 the Macdonald-Buchanan family purchased Cottesbrooke and hired Lord Gerald Wellesley (later the 7th Duke of Wellington) to make alterations to the house, including moving the entrance from the east to the west facade and converting the old entrance hall into today's Pine Room.

    Collections: One of the finest collections of sporting paintings in the world (and certainly the finest in Europe), the Woolavington Collection at Cottesbrooke was begun by Sir James Buchanan (later Lord Woolavington). The collection includes works by Ben Marshall, Sir John Frederick Herring Sr., Alfred Munnings, John Ferneley Sr., and George Stubbs. Formed principally at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, the collection was originally housed at Lavington Park in Sussex and moved to Cottesbrooke when Lord Woolavington's descendants, the Macdonald-Buchanan family, came to live at Cottesbrooke in the 1930s. Other artists included in the collection are Lionel Edwards, de Laszlo, and Zoffany. In addition to the Woolavington Collection, there is also a collection of notable furniture, including excellent 18th century English and French pieces, as well as English, continental, and Chinese porcelain. John Constable's "Stratford Mill on the Stour" was transferred to the National Gallery in lieu of inheritance tax.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The gardens are an entirely a 20th century creation. South of the house, the garden, surrounded by wrought iron railings, was laid out in 1937 by Geoffrey Jellicoe in the form of a quadripartite parterre, while the Statue Walk, created in 1938, is lined with yew hedges and has four exceptional statues by Peter Scheemakers that were originally in the Temple of Ancient Virtue at Stowe. The Sunken Courtyard Garden, with pool and pergola, was designed by Robert Weir Schultz. The garden was winner of the Historic Houses Association/Christie's Garden of the Year in 2000.

  • Architect: Geoffrey Alan Jellicoe

    Date: 1937
    Designed: Quadripartite parterre garden

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    Architect: Robert Weir Schultz

    Date: 1938
    Designed: Sunken courtyard garden

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    Architect: Francis Smith

    Date: 1702-13
    Designed: House for Sir John Langham, 4th Bt.
    (Attribution of this work is uncertain)
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    Architect: Robert Mitchell

    Date: Circa 1770-95
    Designed: House's north front flanking bow bays for Sir James Langham, 7th Bt.

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    Architect: Gerald Wellesley (Wellington)

    Date: 1937-38
    Designed: Remodeled House

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  • Country Life: LXXIX, 168, 194, 1936. CXVII, 736, 806, 1955. CXLVII, 434, 1970.

  • Title: Historic Country Houses of Leicestershire and Rutland, The
    Author: Cantor, Leonard
    Year Published: 1998
    Publisher: Leicester: Kairos Press
    ISBN: 1871344182
    Book Type: Softback

    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

  • "The Flying Gardener" (2003 - BBC TV documentary, episode 3.7, "Bedford/Northamptonshire").
  • Current Seat / Home of: Alastair Macdonald-Buchanan; family here since 1937.

    Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSE: Sir John Langham, 1st Bt., 1635-71; Sir James Langham, 2nd Bt., 1671-99; Sir William Langham, 3rd Bt., 1699-1700. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Sir John Langham, 4th Bt., 1705-47; Sir James Langham, 5th Bt., 1747-49; Sir John Langham, 6th Bt., 1749-66; Sir James Langham, 7th Bt., 1766-95; Sir William Langham, 8th Bt., 1795-1812; Sir William Henry Langham, 9th Bt., 1812; Sir James Langham, 10th Bt., 1812-33; Sir James Hay Langham, 11th Bt., 1833-93; Sir Herbert Hay Langham, 12th Bt., 1893-1909. Captain Robert Bingham Brassey, MP, 1911-37. Ronald Tree (as tenant), 1927-28. Major Sir Reginald Narcisus Macdonald-Buchanan, 1937-81; Captain John Macdonald-Buchanan, 1981-2014.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 01604-505-808

    Fax: 01604-505-619

    Email: [email protected]

    Website: http://www.cottesbrooke.co.uk

    Awards: HHA/Christie's Garden of the Year Award 2000.

    Historic Houses Member: Yes