A DAY OUT WITH ELEGANCE AT RAGLEY HALL
By Ann Evans
Photos by Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography.
Ragley Hall, is one of Warwickshire’s most stunning stately homes. And what’s particularly special about Ragley is the fact that it’s such a welcoming place where families can go for the day and enjoy everything it has to offer.
There’s 10 spectacular acres of Capability Brown gardens; the sprawling surrounding parkland with its country and woodland walks; for the children there’s an adventure playground, 3D maze and boating on Ragley Lake. And of course there is the incredibly beautiful house itself which dates back to the 17th century.
Guided tours will take you through the magnificent state rooms of Ragley – the Great Hall, the Red Saloon, the State Dining Room, Prince Regent’s Bedroom, the Mauve Sitting Room, the Music Room, Breakfast Room and the Green Drawing Room with all their impressive art, ceramics and furniture. And not to be missed is the South Staircase Hall with its spectacular mural, The Temptation by Graham Rust which took 14 years to complete.
Ragley Hall is steeped in history. Ragley Castle is thought to have stood where the rose gardens are today. In Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, Sir John Conway came from Conway Castle in Wales to marry the heiress to Arrow – a village not far from Ragley. In 1680 Sir John’s grandson the first Earl of Conway engaged Robert Hooke, a notable architect and scientist, and a contemporary of Christopher Wren to design this Palladian mansion. Of the several great houses Hooke built, only Ragley remains. The building however was not finished until the middle of the 18th century.
Today Ragley Hall is the home of the 9th Marquess and Marchioness of Hereford and their family.
The title of Marquess of Hereford was created in 1793 for Francis, 2nd Lord Conway who was rewarded for services to his country, mainly rendered in governing Ireland.
Over the years each Marquess has made his mark on Ragley Hall and estate, dependant upon whether their passions lay in the arts, military or agriculture. As such, the stately building has seen mixed fortunes. In the Second World War it was used as a hospital.
In 1958 the 8th Marquess and Marchioness of Hereford decided to open it to the public, and began the journey of gradually restoring the house and grounds to their former glory. This has carried on through to the present 9th Marquess and Marchioness of Hereford, who see themselves as caretakers of this beautiful piece of British history. They work hard at making it an outstanding place for the public to see and enjoy; as well as ensuring it continues as a thriving country estate with a successful farm, butchers, sawmill and properties.
They actively encourage families to visit. Throughout the summer there are all kinds of events going on such as Game Fairs, the Classic Car & Motor Show, Battle Proms Concerts, the Great British Food Festival and Camper Calling which is a brand new family festival held over the August bank holiday – plus lots more.
The latest festival new to Ragley is the Midlands Home & Garden Show which takes place from 13th-15th May, from 10am-5pm. With over 60 exhibitors showcasing their innovative products, this is the perfect opportunity to buy from specialists in home, garden and food products such as garden nurseries, designers and furnitures, home ware, crafts, gifts, jewellery, clothing, accessories, artwork and children’s toys.
Visitors can enjoy the Cookery Theatre headed up by Ragley’s own head chef, Rachel Tudor. Garden enthusiasts will love Gardening Question Time with Ragley’s new head gardener, Mark Morrell. And there will also be a Fine Food marquee where you’ll find the very finest products and artisans.
Ragley’s Terrace Cafe will be serving freshly prepared light lunches, afternoon teas and home made cakes. Harry’s bar will be open for alcoholic beverages and the Lakeside Lodge located next to the Adventure Wood will be serving ice creams and snacks. And of course, the magnificent Hall and gardens will also be open for visits to admire and to learn of its history.
Hilary Philpott, House Manager at Ragley says: “We are delighted to host the Home & Garden show for the first time. With a range of exciting products to suit everyone’s tastes and entry into Ragley Hall included in the ticket prices, the show is a great day out for all the family!”
For more information on Ragley Hall & Gardens please visit www.ragley.co.uk.