Tyntesfield, Somerset


★★★★★

Cherry tree
Autumnal leaves

19th century gothic revival mansion with chapel and formal gardens, surrounded by extensive grounds, and ancient woodland
Management
Entry
15.40 adults, 7.70 children (2022). Parking is extra
Location
2 miles south of Portbury, off Clevedon Road; BS48 1NS
Photo Tour (40 images)
Tyntesfield House in north Somerset is a Gothic revival mansion, built in the 1830s then greatly expanded in the 1860s and 1870s, privately owned until the death of its then owner Richard Gibbs, 2nd Baron Wraxall, and subsequently acquired by the National Trust in recognition of its importance to the nation; the mansion is considered to be amongst the finest of all those from the Victorian era. The extensive grounds comprise formal gardens, parkland, farmland, an orchard, a forestry plantation and patches of ancient woodland, while other structures include farm buildings, a walled kitchen garden and several lodges.

The mansion contains all its original furniture and fittings, and most rooms are open to visitors, including the chapel, an ornate building inspired by Sainte-Chapelle in Paris; at least an hour can be spent inspecting the various locations, while the grounds also have much to offer. The parkland is good habitat for wildflowers and fungi (over 1,000 species have been recorded; waxcaps are especially abundant), while the surrounding woods harbour much wildlife. Bats are particularly well represented, with ten of the UK's 17 species found here, six within roof spaces and niches of the house itself.




History


Tyntesfield House is named after the Tynte family, latterly Barons of Halswell (a title created in 1674), who built a hunting lodge on this site in the 1500s, subsequently used as a farmhouse and then replaced, after sale to the local Seymour family in the 1830s, by a Georgian-style manor house. This in turn was sold, in 1847, along with the rest of Tynte estate, to businessman William Gibbs (1790-1875), who had become rich from the guano mining industry, importing the product to Europe and North America. He soon commenced a major project of enlarging and augmenting the mansion in the Gothic revival style popular at that time; the structure was provided with many turrets, chimneys, pinnacles and other embellishments, and was mostly clad in richly-coloured Cotswold limestone. The final additions were a large iron-framed conservatory (since removed) and the chapel, this complete by 1877. The estate passed through four generations of the Gibbs family until acquisition by the National Trust in 2002, since upkeep had become too expensive, in part due to damage sustained during the WW2 which had never properly been put right. The National Trust carried out a major conservation project over the course of the next 18 months, at considerable expense, and the house has been open to visitors ever since.


The Estate


The front entrance to Tyntesfield House is on the east side, from where a curving, 0.6 mile driveway links with the B3130 to the south, its gateway guarded by the Lower Lodge, and this was the approach used by the former residents. Visitors though now enter from the north, off Cleveland Road, down a shorter drive to a large parking area beside the estate farm, where facilities include a cafe and children's play area. From here it is a quarter of a mile walk eastwards to the mansion. The formal gardens are on the south side of the house, with parkland beyond, either side of the main driveway, halfway along which are the kitchen gardens, and another cafe. To the northeast is the Tyntesfield Plantation, extending over a mile across upwards-sloping, south-facing ground, while further west, beyond the farm and its fields, is another patch of the estate's woodland, The Sidelands, accessed from a road up Wraxall Hill, and crossed by several public footpaths.

Garden pathway
Garden pathway