Halswell Park, Goathurst, Bridgewater
View the inner workings of this full restoration project. Continuously inhabited since Domesday, Pevsner called the Grade I-listed Halswell 'the most important house of its date in the county'. The Tudor Manor and 1689 Baroque Wing sit in an 18th century parkland of temples, follies and lakes. The house is contents-free while undergoing complete restoration.
These private, behind-the-scenes, restoration tours will be given by the owner Edward Strachan, the art and architecture historian Roy Bolton or the architect Claire Fear. Since the Baroque Wing was added in 1683-89 the old manor became hidden and mostly put over to services. It has languished in this condition until the current full restoration of the house and estate was begun. Visitors will hear about this tale of two houses and the characters who built the estate until it was broken up in 1950. The house is a rare and important example of English Baroque architecture; even rarer is the ability to see the hands-on revival of the house, which has been in a desperate state for the last 65 years.
Visitors will be given access to all the areas of the house and grounds that are not closed for necessary restoration purposes. The walk to Mill Wood to see the 18th century water gardens being restored, folly by folly, is for the hearty of lung and leg. For those who would rather keep to the house and its immediate environs, most of the Tudor and Baroque wings will be open, including the roof where a leaving drink can be enjoyed with views to Glastonbury Tor and Wales. It has just been named [by Marcus Binney] as, possibly, the most ‘perfect house’ in the British Isles.
All the state rooms in the Baroque Wing and many in the old manor house can be viewed. The cellars and roof are open for those willing to climb stairs. There are many follies close to the house but the walk to the C18th pleasure gardens, Mill Wood, is a must for those with walking boots.
Cannot thank you all enough for fabulous visit yesterday. I was personally so thrilled to see all that you had achieved – I think the group went home shell-shocked & totally inspired! Shelia Ralph, HHA ... Can I both thank you and congratulate you with every sinew for the amazing act of mercy you are performing on that great house. Ross Murray, President of the CLA
The estate gates are at the cross roads in the village of Goathurst. There is parking marked near the main house at the top of that drive.
Tea/coffee and sandwiches on arrival
Walking boots recommended.
While restorations are ongoing, disabled access is currently limited to accessible areas on the ground floor.