Snowshill Manor

Posted on 8th Nov 2012 by ian under Travel Tales | No Comments »

The Snowshill Manor grounds date back to 821 when it belonged to the monks from Winchcombe Abbey. In 1539, Henry VIII put a ban on monasteries and gave the manor to the last of his wives, Catherine Parr. Fast forward to 1919 and that is when Charles Wade bought the place. Wade was an architect, artist-craftsman, poet, collector, eccentric and heir to the large family fortune accumulated on sugar plantations in St Kitts in the West Indies.

The only difference between an eccentric and a full-on fruit-loop is money – and Charlie had stacks of that. And for the next 32 years he lived in the Parish House next to the manor, collecting stuff, restoring it, filling the manor with over 22,000 items and working on the gardens. He donated it all to the National Trust in 1951 and died in 1956. He married late, aged 63. Mrs Wade was much, much younger, and was well looked after financially.

The ‘collection’ is hard to describe but is full of weird and wonderful things. Wade believed that nothing should be allowed to perish and was attracted to anything that showed elements of design, craft and colour – so suits of armour sit next to boats made of whalebone, next to Samurai costumes, next to stuffed birds, next to a box piano (right), next to stairs that take you to three floors of more weird and wonderful stuff.

We were still a few hours shy of Yorkshire but that famous Yorkshire saying popped into my mind – “There’s none so queer as folk”.

And the gardens were an absolute treat – most visitors take the 10 to 15 minute walk through the gardens back to the restaurant and car park. Annie and Laura enjoyed that stroll and, for people not up to that walk, there is a shuttle buggy to take visitors back through the scenic gardens on a meandering pathway. The buggy was driven by volunteer, Jim.

My hidden agenda for this trip is to notch up at least one lifetime memory a day on this wee trip. Consider this day’s box well and truly ticked!

This manor is not really wheelchair friendly, or indeed cane-friendly in parts.  It is quite a walk from reception/restaurant to the manor and would be a difficult ‘wheel’.  There is a buggy that is driven by volunteers and it arrives on demand after a call on the walkie-talkie.

There are stairs in the manor and I didn’t get to explore the upper two floors – but there was plenty on the ground floor and in the Parish House for me to enjoy.  I have found recently that sometimes you see more by seeing less, if that makes sense.