DiCamillo Companion
England

Levens Hall

  • Earlier Houses: An earlier house built, circa 1350, by the de Redman family was on the site of the current house.

    House & Family History: The first dwelling at Levens dates from circa 1350, and was built by the de Redman family as defense against the Scottish raiders of the time. It was then a primitive pele tower, with under-housing for the women and cattle in time of raids, and a large room where smoke from the open fire would escape through a hole in the roof. The medieval structure was built in Elizabethan times, when the Bellingham family created a mansion and beautified it with fine paneling and plasterwork still to be seen today. In 1694, Col. James Grahme, former privy purse to King James II, added much of the fine Jacobean furniture and built the wing at the rear of the building. All building was completed by the addition of the Howard Tower in 1820. Today the visitor sees all the finest Elizabethan rooms, including the Dining Room with its embossed Cordova leather wall-coverings, and many elegant bedrooms. Throughout the house there are beautiful paintings, family memorabilia (connections with both the 1st Duke of Wellington and Nelson) and the earliest English Patchwork (1708). Levens Hall is well known for its various tales of ghostly happenings, although visitors will most likely sense the warm and welcoming family atmosphere. (We are most grateful to Hal Bagot for providing this history of Levens Hall)

    Collections: The Levens Hall collection includes paintings by Rubens, Lely, and Cuyp. A pair of silver gilt bees, used to form the clasp of Napoleon's traveling cloak, are today in the collection at Levens. The clasp was found in Napoleon's abandoned carriage on the field at Waterloo; the carriage and its contents were given to the Duke of Wellington, who gave the bees to his niece, Mary Wellesley, who married Sir Charles Bagot in 1807.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The Topiary Gardens at Levens are world-famous in their own right, and are a must for any visitor to the English Lake District. When Col. Grahme, who had held the office of privy purse to King James II, came back to Levens in 1688 (upon the abdication of the king), he brought with him the gardener Monsieur Guillaume Beaumont, who had been trained under Le Nôtre at Versailles and who had laid out the gardens at Hampton Court. He started work in 1694, creating the design for the garden you can see today. Though Charles Bridgeman is credited with the introduction of the concealed ditch or "ha-ha" (Horace Walpole called it "the capital stroke"), it has recently been argued that the first English example of a ha-ha was at Levens Hall, installed in the 1690s by Beaumont. We are fortunate that, since that time, no owner has wished to make changes, as so many others have, and so the four gardeners we currently have are truly looking after a design which is unchanged for over 300 years. Levens Gardens won the HHA/Christie's Garden of the Year Award in 1994. (Many thanks to Hal Bagot for this history of the Levens Gardens).

  • Architect: Guillaume Beaumont

    Date: 1694
    Designed: Topiary Garden

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  • Title: Royal Jewels From Charlemagne to the Romanovs
    Author: Scarisbrick, Diana; Vachaudez, Christophe; Walgrave, Jan (Editors)
    Year Published: 2008
    Reference: pg. 208
    Publisher: New York: The Vendome Press
    ISBN: 9780865651937
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade I

  • "Wives and Daughters" (2000 - as Hamley Hall interiors). "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (2002 - TV movie, as exteriors of Baskerville Hall).
  • Current Seat / Home of: Bagot family

    Past Seat / Home of: de Redman family, 14th century. Bellingham family, 16th century. Col. James Grahme, 17th century. Henry Bowes Howard, 11th Earl of Suffolk and 4th Earl of Berkshire, 18th century.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 01539-560-321

    Fax: 01539-560-669

    Email: houseopening@levenshall.co.uk

    Website: https://www.levenshall.co.uk/

    Awards: HHA/Christie's Garden of the Year Award 1994. Levens Hall was the 1997 runner-up in the NPI award for the Best Historic Houses Association Property.

    Historic Houses Member: Yes