History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
Ragley is a superb Jacobean country house set in spacious landscaped gardens, with Baroque state rooms and lovely countryside walks.
Ragley is the seat of the Seymour family, Marquesses of Hertford. The Seymours count among their forbears Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VIII.
Ragley Hall is associated with some of the most famous British architects of the Jacobean and classical revival periods. It was designed in 1680 by the architect Robert Hooke as a replacement for the 'Old Hall' at Ragley.
Though Hook was one of the most popular architects of his day, Ragley is the only one of his works remaining. The new Hall remained an impressive but fairly empty shell for almost 75 years until the family finally moved in.
In 1750 James Gibbs was called in to decorate the ornate Great Hall in ebullient Baroque style, and finally, in 1780, James Wyatt added the striking porticoed entrance, and added his touch to several interior rooms. So here you have, in one house, examples of some of the finest work of architects acclaimed as among the best in their respective eras.
Visits to the interior focus primarily on the state rooms. Along the west front are ranged several saloons and dining chambers, including the crimson saloon, designed by Wyatt, which features ornate Louis XIV furnishings.
The most striking room in the house is the Great Hall, designed by Gibbs, with extravagant plasterwork in pink, white, and grey. A more modern touch is provided by the frescoes on the south stairs, the work of painter Graham Rust.
The Gardens and Grounds
The estate at Ragley stretches to over 1000 acres. Some of that is devoted to managed timber harvesting, but the grounds near the house offers some very enjoyable opportunities to walk amid landscaped gardens and enjoy superb views.
Near the house are formal walks and terraced garden areas, while further afield the ground rises to a treed summit, where a bench is set to allow you to rest your feet and admire the view back down the tree-lined avenue to the house.
Scattered along the woodland portion of the walks are a variety of modern sculpture. The gardens include meadow and prairie areas, a spring bulb bank, and a winter garden.
To the side of the main hall is the beautifully proportioned stables, the work of James Gibbs. Gibbs designed the stables in a circular shape about a small courtyard, and the symmetry of the design is quite lovely. Horses are kept on one side of the stable range, while another wing is devoted to an interesting exhibition of carriages and coaches, covering several hundred years of Ragley history. Here you will find not only the ornate carriages of the Seymour family, but smaller, more informal traps and utilitarian transport.
Ragley Hall for FamiliesThere is lots of open space for children to explore, but even more exciting for the younger generation is the Adventure Playground. Our children, aged 6 and 11 when we visited, really enjoyed the playground, and also enjoyed visiting the stables, where they could get a glimpse of the horses catching the fresh air.
What you will see:
- Classical manor house
- formal and informal gardens and garden walks
- carriage collection
- classical stables
- sculpture walk
Related: James Wyatt
About Ragley Hall
Address: Alcester, Warwickshire, England, B49 5NJ
Attraction Type: Historic House
Location: 2 m SW Alcester, on A435
Website: Ragley Hall
Phone: 01789 762 090
Historic Houses Association
OS: SP073 555
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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