Set in the heart of Warwickshire, Coughton Court is a huge Tudor house, with beautiful gardens and a catholic collection of treasures. It has been the home of the Throckmorton family for over 600 years, they have been persecuted for their catholic faith, but with links to secret plots and political intrigue, they have risked everything to protect their home.
Since 1409, twenty generations of the Throckmorton family have lived at Coughton Court, the family members will inherit part of the estate by marriage. To this day, the family still live here; however, this magnificent building has seen them battle challenge after challenge over the centuries.
The Gatehouse at Coughton is a major feature; not many houses are seen to face a tall battlemented gatehouse, as this was a feature of many medieval castles. However, the gatehouse would have looked initially impressive as the house was once surrounded by a moat. The Front Hall is the start of your visit to the house; it originally served as the gatehouse passageway and was open at both ends.
As you move through parts of the house, the staircase is not what you would expect from a medieval property. It is one of the most successful changes made to Coughton in the house’s remodelling during the 1780s. The previous link to most rooms in the house was via a narrow spiral staircase in the corner turrets of the gatehouse; however, the new staircase is a marriage between classical stairs and gothic cornice.
The Blue Drawing room occupies the first floor of the original gatehouse, said to be completed by Sir George Throckmorton in the 1530s. With two vast oriel windows to each side of the room, you get a beautiful view of the courtyard and gardens as well as a view of the surrounding parkland. It was in this room where the National Trust guide gave us a brief history of how the the Throckmorton Family became linked to the Gunpowder Plot and the infamous Guy Fawkes.
The ringleader was Robert Catesby, son of Sir William Catesby and Anne Throckmorton of Coughton Court; he spent time at Coughton Court as a young boy and subsequently conceived the plot and recruited the other twelve members who were involved. It was in the gatehouse that the family and associates of the plotters received news that the plot had failed on the 6th November in 1605.
The gardens at Coughton Court are said to be wonderful; sadly, the walled garden was shut when we visited. However, it had been transformed by Clare Throckmorton and her daughter, who won two gold medals and the 2010 RHS Chelsea Flower show.
The garden had been desolate, and the first area tackled by Mrs Throckmorton was the Central Courtyard. With a central fountain made out of bath stone and box-edged island beds, what looks very symmetrical is actually unsymmetrical as the flower border against the north wing has been extended.
It was in 1946 that Coughton Court was acquired by the National Trust; Lady Lillian handed the house over and received a 300-year lease for the Throckmorton Family to continue to live at Coughton Court.
We had a wonderful visit to Coughton Court; this is a National Trust house that definitely stands out from others across the country. Steeped with a turbulent history, one house, one family and one faith, through thick and thin, Coughton Court has continued to survive. I can’t wait to come back soon and explore more of the house and finally see the walled garden.