It was a treat to find ourselves within walking distance of a NT property, so after the forecast rain turned into a beautiful sunny day we walked the 1.5 miles up the hill to discover Basildon Park. What a gem, but at the grand entrance gate we were advised to take the back route up to the house, huh we know our place, but so glad we did, the formal gardens were magnificent, I could have spent a whole hour just inhaling the heady scent of the roses, if Eric’s sneezes hadn’t disturbed the peace.
As is often the case with NT properties the volunteer guides were welcoming and rushed to share information about great house,
We’re not that fussed about knowing it was built circa 1776 by Sir Francis Sykes in the Palladian style, but suffice to say that even wealthy Georgians, fall prey to the odd financial crisis and and social scandal. In the 1830’s it is said that Charles Dickens based his character Bill Sykes on Sir Francis’ grandson. The resulting humiliation and lack of funds meant the family pad had to be sold for £97000.
Skipping on to the 20th century the house was requisitioned during the war years and sadly fell into a terrible state of repairs, made worse when its owner attempted to transport and relocate the entire house stone by stone to America. Fortunately that venture failed, but by then the house was deemed fit only for demolition. In the 1950s it was bought and lovingly renovated and restored by the Iliffe family. Lady Iliffe had a knack of finding appropriate items at auction, including the bamboo bedroom, which she got for just £1,
She was both practical and very creative and did a lot of the decorating herself including creating a shell room
But not all the rooms were quite so fancy.
Inheritance tax demands would have made it impractical for the house to remain in the family so it was bequeathed to the NT in 1978 for everyone to enjoy. I thought id return the following day to take advantage but the forecast sunshine was overshadowed by some big black clouds so ill save that treat for another year.