The Lucy family has owned the land since 1247. Charlecote Park was built in 1558 by Sir Thomas Lucy, and Queen Elizabeth I stayed in the room that is now the drawing room. Although the general outline of the Elizabethan house remains, nowadays it is in fact mostly Victorian. Successive generations of the Lucy family had modified Charlecote Park over the centuries, but in 1823, George Hammond Lucy (High Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1831) inherited the house and set about recreating the house in its original style. Charlecote Park covers 185 acres, backing on to the River Avon. William Shakespeare has been alleged to have poached rabbits and deer in the park as a young man and been brought before magistrates as a result. But it is unclear whether there were any deer in the park at that time. From 1605 to 1640 the house was organised by Sir Thomas Lucy. He had twelve children with Lady Alice Lucy who ran the house after he died. She was known for her piety and distributing alms to the poor each Christmas. Her eldest three sons inherited the house in turn and it then fell to her grandchild Sir Davenport Lucy.
In the Tudor great hall, the 1680 painting Charlecote Park by Sir Godfrey Kneller, is said to be one of the earliest depictions of a black presence in the West Midlands (excluding Roman legionnaires). The painting, of Captain Thomas Lucy, shows a black boy in the background dressed in a blue livery coat and red stockings and wearing a gleaming, metal collar around his neck. The National Trust's Charlecote brochure describes the boy as a "black page boy". In 1735 a black child called Philip Lucy was baptised at Charlecote. It was landscaped by Capability Brown in about 1760. In the middle of the 19th century the Fairfax Baronets inherited the property when the male line of the Lucy family failed on the death of Henry Spencer Lucy. The baronets changed their family name to Lucy to reflect the traditions of Charlecote.
The Great Hall has a barrel-vaulted ceiling made of plaster painted to look like timber and is a fine setting for the splendid collection of family portraits. Other rooms have richly coloured wallpaper, decorated plaster ceilings and wood panelling. There are magnificent pieces of furniture and fine works of art, including a contemporary painting of Queen Elizabeth I. The original two-storey Elizabethan gatehouse that guards the approach to the house remains unaltered. On display at the house is an original letter from Oliver Cromwell, dated 1654, summoning then owner Richard Lucy to the Barebone's Parliament. Also on display is a 1760 portrait of George Lucy by Thomas Gainsborough which cost Lucy the sum of eight guineas. A set of archives for the Lucy family at Charlecote is held by the Warwickshire County Record Office. The house also has a display of carriages and a period laundry and brewroom. Charlecote Park has extensive grounds. A parterre has been recreated from the original 1700's plans.
For a full and extremely good review by a visually impaired visitor click here. In summary there is a great deal to touch at the site with plenty of sensory experiences; "Overall, I was pleased about how many objects I was allowed to touch in the house and grounds." Wheelchair accessible and a ramp is available for access to the house. Separate mobility parking, 200 yards with a Drop-off point. Wheelchair transfer available. Please park in main car park and enter Visitor Reception for more information. Grounds partly accessible, loose gravel paths, slopes. There is an accessible route for the grounds. Mobility toilet facilities are inside the entrance to the ladies toilet at the main block. There are Braille and large print guides and an Induction loop. There is also a Virtual tour available. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Wellesbourne, Warwick, Warwickshire CV35 9ER
Transport: Stratford-upon-Avon (National Rail) 25 minutes or taxi. Bus Routes : X18 from Leamington Spa to Stratford-upon-Avon.
Opening Times House: Closed Wednesdays otherwise 11:00 to 16:30
Opening Times Garden, Park, Outbuildings: Daily 10:30 to 17:30
Tickets : Adults £10.45; Children £5.15
Tickets Grounds + Outbuildings: Adults £7.05; Children £3.50
Tel: 01789 470277