A 19th century hand-colored engraving of the house
An 1825 engraving of the house from "Neale's Views of Seats"
Earlier Houses: There was at least one earlier house on, or near, the site of the current house.
House & Family History: In 1536 Henry VIII seized West Horsley Place and gifted it to his friend Henry Courtenay. That same year the new owner felt obligated to show his gratitude to the king, so hosted him for a 35-course lunch in the great hall of his new house. Just three years later Henry VIII had Courtenay beheaded, probably on trumped-up charges of treason. West Horsley was also the home of two notable people: Carew Raleigh, son of Sir Walter Raleigh, and Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald, the "Fair Geraldine" of the Earl of Surrey's sonnets. After the 2014 death of Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe, West Horsley was inherited by her nephew, Bamber Gasgoigne, the original host of the popular TV show “University Challenge," who donated the estate to the newly created West Horsley Place Trust. In 2017 Grange Park Opera moved from Grange Park in Hampshire to the Theatre in the Woods at West Horsley Place. The new, five-story opera house (located behind the house) that was built to accommodate Grange Park Opera is modeled on La Scala and seats 700. The Geraldine Room at West Horsley contains the oldest decorative plasterwork ceiling in England.
Collections: After the death of the Duchess of Roxburghe the contents of West Horsley Place were auctioned by Sotheby's on May 27 and 28, 2015 (total hammer of £3.7 million). The duchess bequeathed her family's library of over 7,500 books, including many works of English and French literature, to the library of Trinity College, Cambridge. The star of the library was a first edition of Edmund Spenser's "The Faerie Queene," which had been inscribed by Charles I during his imprisonment.
Garden & Outbuildings: The West Horsley Estate today stands at 380 acres.
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: Vol. II, p. 192, 1853.
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: 2.S. Vol. II, 1825.
Country Life: LXXXV, 302, 328, 1939.
House Listed: Grade I
Park Listed: Not Listed
Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Henry Courtenay, 1536-39. Anthony-Maria Browne, 2nd Viscount Montagu, early 17th century. Carew Raleigh, 17th century. Henry Weston, 18th century. Robert Offley Ashburton Crewe-Milnes, 1st Marquess of Crewe, 1931-45; Margaret, Lady Crewe, 1945-67; Mary Evelyn Hungerford Crewe-Milnes, Duchess of Roxburghe, 1967-2014. Bamber Gasgoigne, 2014-22.
Current Ownership Type: Charity / Nonprofit
Primary Current Ownership Use: Other
Ownership Details: Owned by the West Horsley Place Trust