We spent the weekend staying at Glenthorne, one the most romantic houses in England. One approaches it by turning off the top road which runs across Exmoor and then making a steep and twisting descent down a rough track, through woodland, past a small gothic lodge and through gates until the drive opens up to a view across the Bristol Channel towards Wales:
The house itself is late Georgian gothic, built for a squarson, Walter Halliday, and with the atmosphere of Thomas Love Peacock:
Before dinner, I wandered through the grounds down to the stony cove:
The following morning we walked up through the gulley which has been made into a sub-tropical garden:
We were en route to the Literary Museum. I remember when Christopher Ondaatje first mentioned that he was planning to create a literary museum out of one of the buildings on the estate. A year later we were summoned to the opening:
The museum is based on the very simple, but essentially Victorian, idea that it is good to collect the relics of writers, including portraits and first editions. The collection is inspired by Christopher’s interest in the Bloomsbury Group, including a big collection of work relating to Virginia Woolf, an early portrait of Quentin Bell, and an early film of Lytton Strachey and Ralph Partridge waving from an upstairs window in Ham Spray. But it extends much wider to include a portrait of D.H. Lawrence by Jacques Emile Blanche, a melancholy portrait of Michael Holroyd, a drawing of V.S. Naipaul, and portraits of Claire Tomalin and Victoria Glendinning. This is the section devoted to Roger Fry:
There’s a little internal courtyard with busts of Shakespeare and Milton and bas reliefs by Ana Maria Pacheco:
Next door is a small room devoted to the art of printing:
By the time we got back to the house, the sun was shining:
5 thoughts on “Glenthorne”
Please tell Cristoforo Ondaatje about The Book of Ebenezer le Page…
will you ever have a open day please
My Grandmother Clytie Taylor, was in service to Lady Constance Halliday. My Mum was named after her. Clytie married George Clark the gardener, whilst in service at Glenthorne, in 1918. I would dearly love to visit this beautiful mansion where my Grandmother once was. I never got to know her; she died aged 39 of pernicious anaemia, but we do have a china tea service which Lady Constance gave to Clytie as a wedding present.
The house is very magical, in a wonderful position by the Devon sea, now belonging to new owners, so we haven’t been for several years.
Thank you so much for replying. I will find out the new owners.
Kind regards, Ches Power