Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Sherborne House,Gloucestershire

First Family Owner
Family group, including Mr & Mrs James Lenox Dutton. Their son, James Lenox Dutton, afterwards first Lord Sherborne and their youngest daughter, Jane Dutton who married Thomas Coke, afterwards Earl of Leicester.

This is a post I have been going to do for a long time and all that has stopped me is making the effort to scan these photos into my computer.

It's 1988 and I have driven a missionary friend to speak at a Bible study in Mississippii. Before leaving, the owner of the house and leader of the group told me that he was taking his Bible study group over to England in a few months to stay at his Father's country home there. He asked if Alan and I would like to join them for a holiday. Having consulted with Alan on the telephone we said yes.

A few months later we had the priviledge of having the group at our home for a day while they were in London seeing

Les Miserables. The following day we were meeting up with them again at the country house in The Cotswolds.

Come Monday we were driving West wondering what this house would be like and assuming it was a reasonable size as there were going to be 14 of us. When we arrived we were surprised to say the least. This is what we found.

Sherborne House from the air

The front of the house with it's church to the left ( beautiful acoustics I might add when we sang in there)

Sherborne House holds much history which would be far too complicated to go into here (I have a whole book on it) but suffice to say that this house was built on the site of a monastry and in the original Abbey Grange, Queen Elizabeth I stayed twice - in 1574 and 1592 for six days on both occasions.

Thomas Dutton was the first family owner of Sherborne

(1507-1582). Suffice to say in bringing the tale up to the present time, the last Lord Sherborne died without an heir and the estate was bought privately by 2 wealthy Americans, one of them being the Father of 'my new friend'.

The house had been turned into 19 apartments, some large and some smaller where 'my friend' let's call him John for ease of writing was able to entertain and offer English holidays to his friends and family.We had a wonderful week with our daughter and friend joining us for the last few days.

Alan on the right in the stable courtyard which was now John's Fathers personal holiday retreat.

The back yard, the Rolls Royce on the right was used to take us ladies out to dinner at a private restaurant.

The bikes we used to tour the local Cotswolds

A swim and a sauna before bed was much enjoyed

Meeting in one of the apartments for an evening Bible study

Afternoon tea in the apartment of the other owner (who actually had one wing of the house)

Real English afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches, cakes and biscuits and tea served in a silver teapot.

The owners wife was a concert pianist and here she is playing for us

Another of the apartments with Jane and her friend (Jane on the left). They were actually staying with us in our apartment but visiting with the couple allocated this apartment. As a result of getting to know the couple during the week, Jane spent the following Summer (while on her university break) working as a Nanny for them in Mississippi.

This fireplace was one of the main features of the house and this room was originally a hall with a spiral staircase at the end leading up to another hall above, all now making a lovely and spacious apartment.

The other end of the room

The sitting room of our apartment. When we arrived the maid had been in and stocked the fridge with all sorts of goodies including a cooked chicken and a bottle of wine.

Our dining room

A book on the history of Sherborne given to us by John's Father as a parting gift.

There were empty pages where we all wrote messages to each other before leaving

And now I want to say what a small world it is. All this was 21 years ago and in that time John's parents had to sell the place due to ill health and it is now a very smart and expensive hotel/holiday complex. I was amazed a year ago to find out that one of my regular bloggers Linda had recently stayed here in an apartment that at the time belonged to a friend of hers. Linda is an American living in France who posts on some beautiful places in France, particularly Provence. Certainly a small world.


I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Thank you for the visit to your friends house today. What a treat it must have been. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be able to own or live in a place like that. It is huge and I can see how a hotel would do well there. I'm an arm chair traveler and thanks to people like you I've been alot of places now.

Deanna said...

Hi Barbara,
I have enjoyed your post today. What a wonderful treat this must have been.

This would be a grand thing to have been a part of anytime!!!
A dream come true.

May you have a blessed week,
d from homehaven

Anonymous said...

Oh my..."Remains of the Day" comes to mind!
I'm still picking my jaw up off the blessed to 'come across' this friend...isn't God generous!!
Thank you for sharing and doing all that made a delightful break to my morning quilting!!

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

I remember seeing some of these photos when we were staying with you this summer. You certainly have enjoyed an interesting life, Barbara!

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I would not mine having an apartment there. Just lovely.


Lorrie said...

Life certainly is full of strange turns. Your stay in this beautiful home will have been a most special treat.

blessings to you today,


Winifred said...

What a fabulous place. Lovely photos of what must have been a lovely visit all those years ago yet obviously still vivid in your memory.

Linda said...

It certainly is. Couldn't have planned this if we tried.

Needled Mom said...

Oh my goodness! What a thrill that must have been to stay there. I love the Cotswolds. That is an experience of a lifetime.

Willow said...

What a lovely old country home! I can see how much you are enjoying scanning in the photos and sharing them with us.

Thank you for the tour :)

Charm and Grace said...

Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful visit. It seemed from your writing and photos that the visit was truly a special one and that you were among kindred spirits. Even a visit to a magnificent place such as Sherbourne would have to be even more so to be among loving friends. Fabulous photos once again.


A Brit in Tennessee said...

What a beautiful home, such tradition and grandeur. You are a very fortunate lady to experience living in that awesome country estate.
Thanks for sharing your pictures with us !!

La Petite Gallery said...

Barbara My word!
What a post, that house is unbelievable.
I read you have a baby grandaughter Rebecca Like the Bible. Glad you enjoyed
Renee's blog. I have to say,
even if she is my Daughter
the work is very beautiful.

Blondie ~ Vintage Primitives said...

It is truly a small world! And the internet makes it even more so. I am so enjoying my journeys with you.

DeniseinVA said...

Hello Barbara, what a wonderful post and what an experience. That house is absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog. I have enjoyed my visit here.

Knitting Mania said...

Thanks for your recent visit Barbara. I don't know why your having trouble commenting on my blog...funny. Your the first blogger buddie that has mentioned this to me. Hmmmm how wierd!

Well glad you got through this time. Your photos are oh so lovely, I always enjoy them so much.

Pom Pom said...

Hi Barbara!
How lovely! Thank you for such an interesting glimpse into history!

Kate said...

How lovely and more so because at that time those houses were still somebody's personal property - I hate some of the things that have been done to these beautiful places - but sadly its difficult to see an alternative.

I do like time travelling - don't you?

Pomona said...

An amazing house in a beautiful part of the world - and what a coincidence at the end!

Pomona x

Anonymous said...

Barbara, what an amazing story. I would love to have seen your faces when you first saw the "country home." Isn't life strange? What a lovely place, and thank you for scanning in all those photos! :-)

Anonymous said...

It seems we have something in common, I too lived in Sherborne House. As a schoolboy, between 1951 and 1957 I never really considered what it might be like to live at the time the mansion was built. It was not until the site had been (after many incarnations, as it were) remodelled as exclusive apartments, that I started to get an inkling into its original use.

I will not write more here, but if anyone is interested in my school site at they may find many pictures of the building both past and present.


Kenny V said...

Thank you for the lovely photos of the interior of Sherborne House. If you want to learn more about Sherborne and see more photos and read about the family that lived there, please go to, where for $5 you can download the book "Lord Sherborne" which I published last year. I recommend downloading the book instead of buying the book because the book is in color and is very expensive to publish because of all of the photos. Best wishes, and again, thanks for the photos, our whole family has been enjoying them. Ken Vyhmeister, descendant of James Dutton, 3rd Lord Sherborne

Anonymous said...

I came upon your blog while searching for "Sherborne House" and your account has left me with a smile.

I am from Mississippi and have also been a guest of "John". I worked with his family in the capacity of architect in the 1980's, and he was kind enough to offer his parents' flat during a visit to Oxford my partner and I had previously planned. We stayed in both of the family's flats...the paddock one and the enormous former ballroom flat, and we would drive into Oxford for the day and drive back to Sherborne after dark. It was magical for a couple of guys from Mississippi!

We stumbled quite by accident on a thank-you gift: browsing in a shop in a nearby town I was astonished to find a small, old engraving of Sherborne House. I bought it back to the states and had it framed for John.

Sorry for the comment's just brought back a flood of memories!

Barbara said...

How interesting to read this last 'Anonymous comment'.

For a minute I thought it might have been one of the group that we were holidaying with.

This is my second anonymous comment on this post which has been interesting and added to finding out that Linda from France had stayed at Sherbourne too - shows what a small world we live in.

Thanks for comments anonymous!!

Anonymous said...

I visited the graveyard today at Sherborne to look for evidence of my great grandparents who were were both brought up and lived on the estate all their lives - bringing up 9 children (including my maternal grandmother). My g grandfather was head gamekeeper and my grandmother subsequently worked in the laundry until her marriage and move away from the area. The graveyard sadly has a lot of unreadable stones although we did find my grandmothers brother who died in 1961. Beautiful estate and will visit again in the summer. Bizarre that after a life of moving around the world, I have finally settled in Gloucestershire close to my maternal grandparents birthplace. My sister (who lives in CA), has researched the family tree and the Dodson and has reached as far back as tghe 17 century... fascinating history of country folk.

MP said...

I stayed in this house -- specifically in the rooms in your pictures -- myself as a child! It was owned by the Irbys at the time I was there...I'm not sure from your description if that's who owned it when you were there as well.

But suffice to say I have several almost identical pictures in my own photo albums. I have incredibly strong memories of wandering around the old church, cemetary, and the koi pond. Sherborne House remains my fantasy of the perfect place to live.

Barbara said...

Yes, MP the same hosts. (Just in case you come back)

WLS said...

Hi there -
I and three friends were guests in 1990. We were all four studying in London for a semester - all four of us from Jackson, MS. "John" invited us for a weekend - we were younger of course - he was friends with our parents. He had to be one of the most generous men I have ever known. His philanthropy was well known, but the time and effort he went to entertain us that weekend was truly amazing. He took us to dinner one evening at a quintessential English fine dining restaurant. Over the top for four kids from home. I had heard of their place, Sherbourne, but seeing it was quite another thing! The walled garden was captivating - something out of a storybook. Like another poster said, the photos are bringing back some great memories. They were taken from some of the exact same angles that I took some of my photos, oddly enough! Our semester abroad was an amazing 5 months and this was certainly one of the highlights. Will never forget it. The generosity of that family has been unmatched. Very grateful for the opportunity.

Unknown said...

I was looking at the picture on our wall of Sherborne House. We have visited and stayed there on several occasions before your friends
parents sold it. It holds special memories for our
family.The last time we were there was in 2000.
Such a beautiful place. I enjoyed reading all the comments. We live in Jackson Mississippi.

Unknown said...

I stayed there with my wife from September 1974 to August 1975 when it was the International Academy for Continuous Education. It was owned by John Bennett and was in operation from about 1970 to 1976.