DiCamillo Companion
England

Eastnor Castle

  • Earlier Houses: There was at least one earlier house on, or near, the site of the current house.

    Built / Designed For: 1st Earl Somers

    House & Family History: Eastnor Castle is an early 19th century mock castle located in a 5,000-acre estate in the Malvern Hills. The house was begun in 1812 and was designed to look like a medieval castle guarding the Welsh borders. It cost the then-enormous sum of £85,000 to build (approximately £63 million in 2016 inflation-adjusted values using the labour value commodity index). The Eastnor Estate was started in the late 16th century when the Cocks family purchased local land; later marriages into the Nash and Somers families enriched the Cockses and eventually enabled the 1st Earl Somers to build the current castle. Eastnor is today the seat of James Hervey-Bathurst, the grandson of Arthur Somers-Cocks, 6th Baron Somers. A noted Victorian scandal involved Lady Henry Somerset, born Isabel Cocks in 1851, the first child and heir of John Somers-Cocks, 3rd Earl Somers. At the age of 22 she was pressured into an arranged marriage with Lord Henry Somerset, the second son of the 8th Duke of Beaufort. The marriage was not a success; Lord Henry probably abused her and Lady Henry left her husband on the grounds that he was a homosexual (as a result of these charges, Lord Henry was forced to live a life of exile abroad). Lady Henry left the Church of England and became a Methodist and a leader in the temperance movement. She devoted her life to studying the causes of crime and poverty and working to relieve their effects on the poor of England. In 1890 she became president of the British Woman's Temperance Association.

    Collections: The collection at Eastnor includes early Italian pieces, 17th century Venetian furniture, Flemish tapestries, medieval armor, and paintings by van Dyck, Romney, Wootton, and Watts. A.W.N. Pugin worked at Eastnor between 1849 and 1850, designing interiors and furniture; a Gothic style library table designed by Pugin, and made 1849-50 by J.G. Crace of oak with wood inlay, remains today in the collection at Eastnor. The library table was exhibited at "The Treasure Houses of Britain" exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 1985-86. A similar library table was presented by Pugin to his friend Sir Thomas Reddington on the occasion of Reddington's marriage, which took place at Talbot Castle, Co. Meath, in 1842. This table was in the hands of the French dealers Didier Aaron in 1992. The Eastnor collection also includes letters, diaries, clothes, and furniture formerly owned by Horace Walpole, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Tennyson, Watts, Virginia Woolf, and Julia Margaret Cameron (the 3rd Earl Somers was married to Julia's sister).

    Comments: Eastnor is considered one of the most spectacular Normal Revival style castles in Britain.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The 300-acre deer park used to be part of a medieval chase and is today a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

  • Architect: Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin

    Date: 1847-50
    Designed: Decorated drawing room and other interiors

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    Architect: George E. Fox

    Date: 1860s
    Designed: Decorated libraries

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    Architect: Robert Smirke

    Date: 1812-20
    Designed: House for 1st Earl Somers

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  • 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. II, 1819.

    Country Life: CXLII 524, 606, 668, corr. 1221, gardens.

  • Title: Didier Aaron Catalogue, 1992
    Author: NA
    Year Published: 1992
    Reference: item 49
    Publisher: Paris: Didier Aaron Et Cie
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Treasure Houses of Britain, The - SOFTBACK
    Author: Jackson-Stops, Gervase (Editor)
    Year Published: 1985
    Reference: pg. 609
    Publisher: Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art (New Haven: Yale University Press)
    ISBN: 0300035530
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pg. 880
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Country Life Cumulative Index: Volumes I to CXCIII to December 1999
    Author: NA
    Year Published: 2000
    Publisher: London: IPC Magazines Limited
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Light Softback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II

  • "The Pallisers" (1974 - BBC TV mini series, as Gatherum Castle). "The Box of Delights" (1984 - TV movie, as the exterior of Abner Brown's theological college). "Sherlock Holmes: The Eligible Bachelor" (1993 - TV movie, as Glaven). "Little Lord Fauntleroy" (1995 - TV mini series). "Buildings of Britain" (2002 - TV documentary series). "Stately Suppers" (2005 - TV documentary, one of 10 half-hour episodes). "Doctor Thorne" (2016 - Amazon TV series, as the exterior of Courcy Castle and the interiors of Boxall Hill). "The Black Prince" (2017). "An American Aristocrat's Guide to Great Estates" (2020 - TV series).
  • Current Seat / Home of: James Felton Somers Hervey-Bathurst, son of Elizabeth Hervey-Bathurst, daughter of the 6th Baron Somers; family here since the 16th century.

    Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: John Somers Cocks, 1st Earl Somers and 2nd Baron Somers, 1815-41; John Somers Somers-Cocks, 2nd Earl Somers and 3rd Baron Somers , 1841-52; Charles Somers Somers-Cocks, 3rd Earl Somers and 4th Baron Somers, 1852-83; Philip Reginald Cocks, 5th Baron Somers, 1883-99; Arthur Herbert Tennyson Somers-Cocks, 6th Baron Somers, 1899-1944. Elizabeth Hervey-Bathurst (née Somers-Cocks), 1944-88.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 01531-633-160

    Fax: 01531-631-776

    Email: enquiries@eastnorcastle.com

    Website: http://www.eastnorcastle.com

    Historic Houses Member: Yes