History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
Berrington Hall is a neo-classical mansion built to a design by Henry Holland, set in superb gardens by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. The exterior of Berrington is restrained classical design, the interiors are stunningly ornate, with painted ceilings and an exceptionally fine entry staircase. Berrington is home to the Wade Costume Collection.
Thomas Harley made a fortune supplying the British army with clothing and pay. When Harley decided he needed a new house to showcase his family's prestige and wealth, he called on landscape gardener Capability Brown.
It was Brown who chose the location for Berrington Hall, selecting a site that gave sweeping views to the Black Mountains of Wales. While Brown busied himself with creating the parkland and semi-natural landscapes for which he was famous, the task of building the house itself fell to Brown's son in law, architect Henry Holland.
Holland began work in 1778 and the house was completed in 1783. He drew upon the popular neo-classical style to create a house with two very different characters. Outside, the red sandstone of Berrington Hall presents a stiff, formal picture, the most notable aspect of which is the massive front portico. But if the exterior is plain, sparingly adorned, the interior is a riot of lavish colour and ornate decoration.
Here the decoration is unrestrained, with wonderful painted ceilings, ornate plasterwork, and a high dome shedding light onto a spectacular entry staircase. The elegant Georgian theme is augmented by fine furniture, most of it French.
Lord Admiral Rodney was a family friend and visited Berrington Hall frequently. The dining room is hung with huge paintings by Luny depicting Rodney's famous sea battles.
There is more to Berrington than ornate state rooms, though. Visitors get a fascinating glimpse of life 'below stairs', with visits to the Laundry, Butler's Pantry, and the superbly finished Dairy being the highlights.
Berrington Hall represents the last major garden designed by 'Capability' Brown. Brown was responsible for Berrington Pool, a lake created entirely by hand. The Pool covers 14 acres in area and lies at the foot of a sloping hill that extends to the very steps of the house.
As with most Capability Brown designs, the parkland is dotted with carefully arranged trees and shrubs, planted to create a landscape at once pastoral and elegantly restrained formality.
The walled garden contains rare species of old fruit trees; apple, plum, cherry, and more. An unusual feature is the Drying Ground, a special lawned area set aside to air washing well out of sight of the family in the house. Mundane things like wet sheets would supposedly spoil the elegant mood created by the house and its sumptuous furnishings.
Berrington Hall for Families
Children will love visiting the well that runs under the inner courtyard, and our children, ages 5 and 11, very much enjoyed the play area in the walled garden. There is also a children's quiz which may make touring the house more enjoyable for the younger generation.
About Berrington Hall
Address: Leominster, Herefordshire, England, HR6 0DW
Attraction Type: Historic House
Location: 3 miles north of Leominster off the A49
Website: Berrington Hall
National Trust - see also: National Trust memberships (official website link)
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
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