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England

The Vyne

  • Built / Designed For: Thomas Sandys, Lord Chamberlain to Henry VIII.

    House & Family History: The Vyne is a very fine 16th century house that was an important center of Tudor power politics. Lord Sandys entertained Queen Elizabeth I here in 1569, and again in 1601. Circa 1655 John Webb, a student of Inigo Jones, designed the classical portico on the north façade for Chaloner Chute, the first of its kind on an English country house. In the mid-18th century The Vyne belonged to Horace Walpole’s close friend, John Chaloner Chute, who designed the stunning and unexpected (in a Tudor house) Palladian staircase, based on the stage sets of the Bibiena family. There is also a wealth of old paneling and fine furniture in the collection at The Vyne. The Estate was bequeathed by its last owner, Sir Charles Chute, to the National Trust in 1958.

    Collections: An ancient Roman ring in the collection at The Vyne may have inspired the famous ring at the center of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings." The 4th century AD solid gold ring features a raised, square platform with a carving of a spiky head wearing a coronet (possibly the goddess Venus) and a Latin inscription that roughly translates as "Senicianus lives well in God." The ring was found in 1785 by a farmer plowing his fields in nearby Silchester; the farmer sold the ring at some point to the Chute family, who owned The Vyne until 1958. In 1929, Tolkien, who was professor of English language and literature at Merton College, Oxford, and an Anglo-Saxon scholar, was consulted by the archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler about the ring's origins. The story was further enhanced by the discovery of the site of a Roman temple at Dwarf's Hill, near Lydney, in Gloucestershire (approximately 100 miles away), in which was discovered a curse tablet that places a curse on the person who stole the ring; the tablet appeals to the god Nodens to return the stolen golden ring to its owner. The tablet's inscription translates from the Latin as "Among those who bear the name of Senicianus to none grant health until he brings back the ring to the temple of Nodens." According to the tablet, a man named Silvanius had lost a ring and believed that it had been stolen by another man named, of course, Senicianus! Tolkien supposedly visited the site at Dwarf's Hill frequently (this area of Britain was abandoned by Rome in the 5th century AD, when the Roman Empire entered its final death throes). In spite of what appears to be many inspirations – the ring, the tablet, and local place names (and the fact that "The Hobbit" was published in 1937 and the first instalment of "The Lord of the Rings" in 1954, both considerably after Tolkien was engaged to consult on the ring and the tablet), it should be noted that Tolkien began work on "The Silmarillion," the original work that created the universe in which "The Lord of the Rings" is set, in 1914, long before he knew about the ring. And his creation of an English mythology was not based on the legends of the Roman gods, but on Norse mythology. There have also been claims that Tolkien based his masterwork on Wagner's "Ring Cycle," which also features Norse myths and a ring that gives its wearer the power to the rule the world; Tolkien dismissed this conjecture as hogwash, saying "Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceased."

    Comments: Gervase Jackson-Stops, writing in "The Treasure Houses of Britain: Five Hundred Years of Private Patronage and Art Collecting": John Chute's "theatric Grecian staircase...provides one of the most arresting coups d'oeil in English architecture." Howard Colvin said that the staircase "...is a theatrical tour de force that has no parallel in English country-house architecture..."

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The grounds feature herbaceous borders, a wild garden, lakes, one of the earliest summer houses, and woodland walks.

    Chapel & Church: The Vyne contains a fascinating Tudor chapel with Renaissance glass.

  • Architect: John Chaloner Chute

    Date: 1770
    Designed: Classical Staircase Hall and Gothic Tomb Chamber in Chapel, all for himself

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    Architect: John Webb

    Date: Circa 1655
    Designed: Classical portico for Chaloner Chute

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  • Country Life: XIII, 838, 1903. XLIX, 582 plan, 612, 619 [Furniture], 642, 649 [Furniture], 1921. CXXI, 16, 1957. CXXXIV, 214 [Furniture], 1963.

  • Title: Treasure Houses of Britain, The - SOFTBACK
    Author: Jackson-Stops, Gervase (Editor)
    Year Published: 1985
    Reference: pgs. 18-19, 247
    Publisher: Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art (New Haven: Yale University Press)
    ISBN: 0300035530
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Classical Architecture in Britain: The Heroic Age
    Author: Worsley, Giles
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pg. 213
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press (The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art)
    ISBN: 0300058969
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Vyne Guidebook, The
    Author: Howard, Maurice
    Year Published: 1998
    Reference: pg. 4
    Publisher: London: The National Trust
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Softback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II

  • "National Trust: National Treasures" (2006 - one of 10-part documentary).
  • Past Seat / Home of: Thomas Sandys, 2nd Baron Sandys, 16th century; Chaloner Chute, 17th century; Chute family here until 1958.

    Current Ownership Type: The National Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Visitor Attraction

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 01256-883-858

    Fax: 01256-881-720

    Email: thevyne@nationaltrust.org.uk

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

    Historic Houses Member: No