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In the Cotswolds: Upton House


On the drive from Oxford through the English countryside to my base for the week in the northern Cotswold village of Hidcote Boyce, I decided to stop at Upton House, easily visited with a small detour into Warwickshire that day, but not close to others I planned to visit on succeeding days. On arrival at the visitor parking lot things began to look very familiar. I soon realized I’d been there before, one of the dangers, if danger is the right word, of visiting a small country year after year with an uncountable wealth of attractions. If you don’t keep track, and I really don’t, one may very well arrive at a parking lot unintentionally for the second time. It had happened before. Undeterred, with my Royal Oak membership pass in my pocket, I took advantage of free entrance to this vast National Trust house to have a second look. Why not?


The approach to the house is down a long straight driveway to a rather plain classic front of local sandstone. The main interest lies behind the house, with the broad rear façade overlooking modest terraces, a gentle slope of lawn to a pool, ultimately giving way, unseen from the house, to a dramatic drop, an elegant stone staircase leading to a series of borders and views into a large kitchen garden below, a lake and the Warwickshire landscape.


While the house is fascinating, now restored by the Trust to its 1930s appearance, it is the garden, expanded in the ‘20s and ‘30s by Lady Bearsted, and the art collection, assembled by Lord Bearsted, that are the main attractions for a visit to Upton House.


The Adoration of the Magi, by a follower of Hieronymus Bosch,
circa 1450-1516. oil on oak panel, Upton House Collection since 1937.

I was pleased to discover that despite my having visited before, this time would be different because of the National Trust’s special exhibit at Upton House, dressing its interior to show how it might have looked during its service to the cause in World War II.


From ‘Period Living’: “The day the war broke out, Joe Cooper and I set out in the car,’ wrote Barney Adler in his memoirs of 1939. One of the bank staff at M Samuel & Co in London’s East End, Adler, along with 21 of his colleagues, was evacuated to the safe, picturesque location of Upton House, near Banbury, Warwickshire, the country retreat of the bank’s owner, Lord Bearsted. Here, in this extraordinary environment, they were to live and work together throughout the tumultuous war years.”   Read the entire article here.



Stay on the Upton House Estate in holiday cottages available to let,
Bog Cottage and 1 Home Farm Drive.



Information for a visit to Upton House is available here.


Next week, Buscot Park, a house with ties to the Arts & Crafts Movement.



Find all episodes of  ‘PortMoresby in England’ here.




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