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A Visit To The Vyne

The Vyne

This isn’t quite a ‘Present Past’ post, but I hope you’ll like it anyway. To view the photographs full size, right click and open.

On what was supposed to be a sunny day, we headed to The Vyne, a Tudor house in Basingstoke. It was our first ‘history visit’ of the year, and a good choice.

The grounds sport an impressive driveway, and whilst you don’t enter via the front gates you do get to walk round to them. Our time at The Vyne was short, the cold hurrying us along away from the few flowers that beckoned us closer, but time is well served when visiting the house. The building takes an hour or so to walk around, leaving you plenty more for lunch and sightseeing outside. In this way it is akin to the more familiar Hever Castle, the short ‘to do’ list making for a relaxing and completed day out.

The Vyne's stairway

The Vyne's stairway

When you visit, you enter a side door into the stone gallery, a room much like a long gallery but on the ground floor and neoclassical in design. You get to see a fair number of rooms, between a third and a half of the building, and the house has been decorated to demonstrate the variety of eras in its history – the small, dark drawing room with its oriental tapestries; a lounge of sorts (it was under restoration when we visited) that is full of paintings from the Stuart and Georgian eras; the utterly incredible entrance hall with its central staircase and a beauty that you would probably say was over-the-top if it didn’t take your breath away as soon as you saw it.

Chalnor Chute's tomb

The Vyne's Roman-inspired gallery

There’s also a chapel, short on floor space but full of air space in which one of the owners, Chalnor Chute, situated his massive marble tomb. It is a work of art that in many ways trumps the tombs of people even higher in society and wouldn’t be out of place in TV-Pemberley’s statue gallery. It’s very dark in the chapel and my photograph didn’t come out well so I’ve edited it as best I can to show you the tomb.

One of The Vyne's drawing rooms

The Vyne's library

As I stepped into one of the upstairs rooms, my boyfriend put his hand out. ‘It’s good there’s a railing here’, he said. No guesses which room this was. The library at The Vyne shows what you can do with a small space, even if it’s an impossible dream for the majority of us and no longer in style. (It’s the photograph on the right.) There are many books – no Rowling or Gaiman but who cares? The detailing is elaborate, and I hope my photograph shows the desk well enough. I love my own desk a lot, but I’d take one like The Vyne’s in a flash. The volunteer in this room told us the story of the lady in the largest painting, which you can just about see in the photograph. A woman who kept creating obstacles for the younger heirs so that she could keep a hold of her home. She kept it up for 20 years and died at the age of 90.

The Vyne's Tudor long gallery

The Vyne's oak tree

In another long gallery, a room where the Tudor panelling is on full display and a volunteer goes around spraying the woven reed matting so that it stays fresh and the room retains even more authenticity, we were shown the arms of Henry VIII – above a door said to lead to his rooms. Katherine of Aragon’s pomegranate was carved into the panelling, too, as well as the symbols of Thomas More and Thomas Wolsey. It was obvious that the owner at the time, William, Baron of Sandys, was in favour, and you can see why. Though I think it’s interesting that there are so many different symbols from the various factions and none are scratched out or damaged (considering some of these people fell from the King’s favour).


The Vyne's avenue

Henry VIII’s rooms are now in the Victorian style. Certainly he wouldn’t fit the bed that now resides there. Katherine of Aragon’s rooms, which may also have housed Anne Boleyn, were torn down, most fitting when you think of what happened to both women. There is a beautiful little four-poster in the Victorian rooms as well as a myriad of botanical watercolours drawn by the respective era’s residents. The last few rooms to visit include one in which the walls are decorated with prints of paintings. This may sound different, but it’s a much better way to decorate than the sliced-up tapestry the volunteer showed us in one of the seating areas. I doubt fray-check existed when it was decided to cut the tapestry to size, so it’s amazing it’s in rather good condition.

After viewing the house, we had lunch in the tearooms – jacket potatoes that we received almost as soon as we’d sat down. There may not have been many diners at the time but regardless it was the quickest service we’ve ever had. And the food was delicious. My boyfriend recommends the shortcake; I believe all the food was made on site that day.

If my boyfriend gets to make a recommendation then I would like to as well. The 600-year-old oak tree situated by the brick summerhouse is almost magical. It’s perhaps testament to its historical value that we noticed its difference and beauty long before we read about it, its twisted trunk and the beating it’s taken through the ages merely adding to its character.

The gardens are likely stunning in summer but as it was cold and only snowdrop and crocuses were in bloom, we made a hasty retreat from the outdoors to the relative sanctuary of the car. My boyfriend had had his curiosity in the big chicken relived (a twenty-something can be confused by a large illustration on a map; a child realises that it simply signifies the chicken coop) and I had my macro shots of flowers.

The Vyne made for a lovely day out. The weather was cold but the welcome was very warm. It’s a great place to be and as it’s often the best signifier of value – yes, we’ll be going back.

What is your favourite period of history in terms of architecture?


Audra (Unabridged Chick)

March 17, 2014, 3:11 pm

Gorgeous!! So envious — would love to visit it some time. Also, a 600-year old tree?! That’s incredible. Would love to see it. Thanks for sharing your photos — it’s a disgustingly dreary and icy day in Boston and I’m grateful for the escape!

Literary Feline

March 17, 2014, 9:07 pm

So beautiful! I love wandering through places like that, imaging what life must have once been like.


March 18, 2014, 9:55 am

The Vyne looks beautiful! Love the pictures you’ve taken.

Architecture wise, I don’t think I have a favourite (probably Baroque if I was forced to choose) anything pre-Edwardian makes me happy really.


March 18, 2014, 10:33 pm

I haven’t heard of The Vyne but sounds like I should have. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and lovely photos.

I’m not sure I have a favourite period of history for architecture. I love a good castle for the sheer size and scale of them. I also rather like the beautiful big windows of the Georgian period.

Melinda @ The Book Musings

March 20, 2014, 10:17 am

Beautiful pictures!


March 25, 2014, 5:01 pm

I love getting glimpses of the countryside and it’s many wonders through your posts. I haven’t heard of The Vyne and didn’t realize until you mentioned Henry VIII that he lived there at times. I had to laugh about your comment on the bed.



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