Travels – Mottisfont, Wiltshire

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We were headed for Wales, and for some misguided reason we thought it might be better to avoid the motorway and head across country, stopping at Mottisfont

Mottisfont is an Augustinian priory and country estate, now managed by the National Trust. The walled gardens are home to the National collection of old fashioned roses, which were starting to bloom

Mottisfont was originally an Augustine priory that had to be conceded in the Tudor era when King Henry VIII gave the estate to  Sir William Sandys, 1st Baron Sandys, an English Tudor diplomat and Lord Chamberlain.

In Georgian times the Mill family transformed the house, including the elegant stone facade. It was then let to wealthy banker Daniel Meinertzhagen who had ten children.

The house was brought back from a state of disrepair by society hostess and art lover Maud Russell and her banker husband in 1934. It became a place for extravagant house parties for their literary and artistic friends. The overall look was Neo-classical and luxurious with faux marbling and pastel shades. In places you can still see glimpses of the original priory building. The original entrance hall was transformed into a large salon commissioning artist Rex Whistler to create spectacular trompe l-oeil murals. These are rather imposing and the artist apparently was very glad to finish this assignment for a rather difficult client. The specification was very much dictated by Mrs Russell and her interests, but the artist managed to sneak in a few personal touches, including writing a tiny message about how he had been painting this particular section when Britain declared war on Germany. Another image of hands tied together perhaps show his feelings about the seemingly endless commission.

The house also houses a permanent collection of 20th century donated by “the last of the gentleman painters”, Derek Hill. Also a rather bizarre sculpture called Alien by David Breuer Well.

Talking about burying your head in the sand!

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My favourite bits though – the wonderful wire horse and this fantastic potting shed (I want it!)!

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Travels – Mottisfont, Wiltshire

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