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July 2011 Outing

We concluded our 2010-11 season  when forty-four members and friends made their way to the Elizabethan manor of Chavenage, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire, for a guided tour of the house and afternoon tea in the  Ballroom, organised for them as in previous years by committee-member, Monica Ewins.

Chavenage is an authentic 16thcentury house which was occupied by the Stephens family from 1564 until the late 19thcentury, after which it was bought by the Loseley-Williams, who are still the owners and occupants. In the manner of contemporary building at the time, it is built in the shape of a letter E, honoring the name of Queen Elizabeth I.  

Inside the house, the original wooden wall panelling remains intact, and one of the finest examples of preserved 16thcentury tapestry in the country is to be found in the first floor bedrooms occupied at one stage in their history by Oliver Cromwell and his chief commander, General Henry Ireton – who was also his son-in-law.  A happy accident of location and limited sunlight in the rooms has led to the survival of the tapestries in an excellent condition. 

Chavenage has extensive grounds and a family chapel, as was normal at the time of construction. The puzzle of the sanctuary lamps in the chapel of an Elizabethan house was solved when it was explained to the visitors that the present owners are a catholic family. Religious preferences notwithstanding, as with all houses that lived through the Reformation and the Civil War, Chavenage bristles with intrigues of all kinds, making for a fascinating tour. 

One of the most amusing of these concerned Queen Mary (mother of King George VI), who for her own safety was billeted at Chavenage during the Second World War. A special eye had to be kept on the family valuables during her stay, on account of the old lady’s magpie instincts. 

Society members enjoyed a VIP tour of the house, by courtesy of Caroline and George Loseley-Williams, son and daughter of the present owners, followed by a generous strawberries-and-cream tea to fortify them for the scenic return journey to the M5 and home.    

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