The Coughton estate has been owned by the Throckmorton family since 1409. The estate was acquired through marriage to the De Spinney family. Coughton was rebuilt by Sir George Throckmorton, the first son of Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton Court by Catherine Marrow, daughter of William Marrow of London. The great gatehouse at Coughton was dedicated to King Henry VIII by Throckmorton, a favorite of the King. Throckmorton would become notorious due to his almost fatal involvement in the divorce between King Henry and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Throckmorton favoured the queen and was against the Reformation. Throckmorton spent most of his life rebuilding Coughton. In 1549, when he was planning the windows in the great hall, he asked his son Nicholas to obtain from the heralds the correct tricking (colour abbreviations) of the arms of his ancestors' wives and his own cousin and niece by marriage Queen Catherine Parr. The costly recusancy (refusal to attend Anglican Church services) of Robert Throckmorton and his heirs kept down later rebuilding, so that much of the house still stands largely as he left it.
After Throckmorton's death in 1552, Coughton passed to his eldest son, Robert. Robert Throckmorton and his family were practicing Catholics therefore the house at one time contained a priest hole, a hiding place for priests during the period when Catholics were persecuted by law in England, from the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The Hall also holds a place in English history for its roles in both the Throckmorton Plot of 1583 to murder Queen Elizabeth I of England, and the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, although the Throckmorton family were themselves only indirectly implicated in the latter, when some of the Gunpowder conspirators rode directly there after its discovery.
The gatehouse at Coughton was built at the earliest in 1536, as it is built of stones which came from Bordesley Abbey and Evesham Abbey after the Dissolution of the Monasteries Act in 1536. Similar to other Tudor houses, it was built around a courtyard, with the gatehouse used for deliveries and coaches to travel through to the courtyard. The courtyard was completely closed in on all four sides by around 1651, when during the English Civil War of 1642-1651, the fourth wing (what would be the east wing if it stood today) was burnt by Parliamentary soldiers, along with many of the Throckmorton's family papers. After the Emancipation of the Catholics Act was passed in 1829, the Throckmorton family were able to afford large-scale building works, so the west front was remodelled after 1829.
The house is set in extensive grounds including a walled formal garden, a river and a lake. The Rose Labyrinth is one of several themed gardens within the historic Walled Garden. Boasting over 200 different varieties of roses - shrub, climbing and rambling roses including Damasks, Albas, Teas and Noisettes, Floribundas and many old fashioned English Roses - the breathtaking array of styles and scents make this rose garden something very special. The garden features a statue of Fair Rosamund, lover of King Henry II, who was allegedly poisoned in the labyrinth at Woodstock by the jealous Queen Eleanor. Rosamund is surrounded by several roses called Rosa Mundi. The house is wheelchair accessible. Designated mobility parking in main car park, 120 yards. Mobility toilet facilities in the stable yard. Wheelchair available. Braille guide. Induction loop. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Alcester, Warwickshire, B49 5JA
Transport: Redditch (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : Stagecoach No. 26, Stratford-upon-Avon to Redditch and return, runs every hour.
Opening Times House: Closed Monday + Tuesday otherwise 11:00 to 17:00
Tickets : Adults £10.45; Children £5.15
Tickets Gardens: Adults £7.05; Children £3.50
Tel: 01789 400777