The English Midlands is blessed with a very rich selection of Tudor period houses, indeed, these have been the inspiration for many of the posts on Tudor stuff.
I have been meaning for quite some time to do a post about one of my favourite local places, therefore, this post is about Packwood House, a National Trust property just outside Solihull.
Packwood House dates from the 1550’s although like many houses of this age it has been extensively altered over years. In some parts of the interior one can clearly see it’s Tudor origins, whilst other parts appear designed to evoke ‘Mediaeval’ type surroundings.
Apparently, many parts of the house were deliberately re-modelled during the 1930’s to create this effect.
In the past, the English Midlands was a major centre of Catholic recusant resistance, many of the Gunpowder plotters came from or were supported here. However, unusually for a local house of this period, the family don’t seem to have been covert Catholics, as for example the occupants of nearby Baddesley Clinton, Coughton Court or Harvington Hall most certainly were.
There are no hidden priest holes and no history of sheltering Catholic Priests – the house can claim that General Henry Ireton slept here the night before taking part in the battle of Edgehill. There is also a story that King Charles the second stopped here briefly after leading his forces to defeat at the battle of Worcester in 1651.
For me, a big part of the appeal of this house lies in the grounds, at some times of the year the gardens are absolutely stunning – and it is clear that a great deal of work and planning goes into maintaining these.
One of the most distinctive features of the garden is the yew topiary which is said to be based upon the sermon on the mount. There are over a hundred Yew trees which make up a maze like formal arrangement which leads up to a spiral walkway through a hedge into a hidden seating area at the bottom of the garden.
This garden provided the backdrop to the 2005 BBC TV production ‘The Virgin Queen’
(Packwood gardens can be seen between 1.17 seconds until 2.42 seconds in the video clip below – )