Mottisfont Abbey and Gardens

A stately home with old roses. Originally an Augustinian Priory dissolved in 1536 by King Henry VIII. A house with the remnants of what it was and echoing with the centuries that followed. It was in turn Sir William Sandys Tudor Mansion, a stately Georgian home for country pursuits with horses in the stables, a family home for the Meinertzhagen’s 10 children, and, in the 1930’s a place to come for artists, philosophers, writers and designers.

Perhaps the most intriguing room in Mottisfont is the reconfigured and redecorated large saloon which had been the entrance hall. Maud Russell, society hostess and patron of the arts, spent a lot of time and money creating a country house for her and her merchant banker husband Gilbert. It was in this large saloon where the artist Rex Whistler created an illusion, a trompe l’oeil, murals that cover the walls and appear as swags, pelmets, fur, clouds of smoke from huge urns, books, and has the most luxuriant feel to what is in fact, flat walls.

Mottisfont has been many things, but curiously, it has never been an “Abbey”! The gardens are a delight, the art resonates with the past and the tea rooms spill out onto the lawn. Parts of the original building are still visible in the rooms, with little doors opening onto angled stonework. The Priory that it actually was, is the basis for a house that has so many stories to tell, a rich history that entwines rather like the historic roses that still grow in it’s rose garden.

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