Chastleton House may be the most atmospheric house I’ve ever visited in England. And why visitors are greeted with National Trust posters declaring “Chastleton is Wolf Hall”. Located in Gloucestershire, about 15 miles from my home-for-the-week in Hidcote Boyce, this house of a wealthy early 17th century wool merchant is largely unchanged from the time it was built, between 1607 and 1612, just after the reign of Elizabeth I. For producers of historic entertainment like the BBC’s ‘Wolf Hall’, nothing could be better for dramatic authenticity than a near-perfectly preserved environment of the era and that’s what this house is.
The Ground Floor
From the vantage point of the 21st century, the house is the gift of poverty, of the declining fortunes of the family that owned it for almost 400 years before it was sold to the National Trust in 1991. The house has been preserved as it was when the Trust received it, to reflect the time of its acquisition, rather than restored to the era in which it was built, and the picture of a family holding on is clear, with bedrooms, for instance, left as if the last occupants had just dressed and left the rooms. Corners of the family quarters, such as a small kitchen, were updated at some time in the past to make living in the ancient house possible, and other parts were left untouched through the centuries. The last generation of the family to own Chastleton inherited it in 1955.
Upstairs Family Rooms
The Top Floor Long Gallery
Ancient Nooks & Crannies
‘Wolf Hall’, a novel by Hilary Mantel, is the story of Thomas Cromwell, much-maligned servant of Henry VIII’s, trying against the odds to do right by king, country and his own family amid the turmoil of the protestant reformation in England. The action takes place from 1500 to 1535 and relates a time, maybe not unlike our own, when anyone bent on staying in their job and keeping their head, had to be quick to dodge and feint with the political truth of the moment. Chastleton House, with it’s forgotten corners and decor that lost touch with fashion centuries ago, became the setting for the 2015 BBC adaptation of ‘Wolf Hall’, that included Mantel’s sequel, ‘Bring Up the Bodies’.
The Adjacent 12th Century St. Mary’s Church
Read an interview with a descendant of the man who built
Chastleton House, wealthy wool merchant, Walter Jones.
Other Tudor houses in England that served as settings for 'Wolf Hall'.
An encore presentation of the BBC series 'Wolf Hall'
begins on PBS tomorrow, Sunday April 2, 2017.
Next week, a "Neo-Moghal" extravaganza
in the English countryside, Sezincote.
Find all episodes of ‘PortMoresby in England’ here.