A couple of years ago, I stopped at Snowshill Manor as a halfway point on a long journey. I didn’t really know anything about the place until I rocked up, only having discovered it by checking out which National Trust properties were in the area.
Tucked up narrow Cotswold lanes and on the side of a beautiful valley of rolling hills and Cotswold stone buildings, this National Trust property has to be up there as one of my favourites. Returning from a family wedding over the weekend, we decided to show my parents around as they’d never been here before.
The house was once owned by Charles Wade, a former architect who just loved to collect things. An eccentric character, he began collecting at the age of 7 with his pocket money. He had a particular fondness for Japanese furniture and trinkets from the days when years ago his grandmother would allow him to open one of the draws of her grand dresser on a Sunday provided he had been good in the week prior. You can even see the said dresser within the house and it’s easy to see why it held such fascination to him, it’s a very impressive bit of furniture!
The house is pretty large but not untypical for a Cotswold manor. Within though you will find over 20,000 artefacts; wooden ships, armour, miniature carved toys, dolls houses, bicycles and musical instruments plus so much more. When Wade gifted his collection to the National Trust he asked that it wasn’t to become displayed as a museum so the majority of his items are as they would have been displayed from when he was alive. Plus, can you imagine reading all of the different notices for that many items? What they do say though is that there are guides on hand who can help with some of the tales behind various items and that visitors are actively encouraged to ask questions.
Being my second visit to the manor I was surprised by how many things I noticed this time that I didn’t recall from my previous visit, and other things that I did remember. Things like a stuffed fruit bat were odd additions to the décor however I guess understandable for someone with such eclectic tastes!
As you wander around, you see a couple of quirky bedrooms but Charles himself used to sleep in an outbuilding just across from the main house. Even then his bedroom is not your average with many religious adornments and almost like something you’d expect to see in a chapel in Italy or somewhere similar.
The highlight of a visit for me has to be the gardens though. The colours of the flowers brighten up against the soft Cotswold stone. There are areas where the grass is long to encourage wildflowers and we could spot cowslips, bluebells and many more growing under the blossoming apple trees in the orchard.
There’s an area where Wade made a replica village, typical of one found on the Cornish coast. It even has its own harbour area, canal and village pub! It’s a clever touch and one that all generations seem to enjoy looking at.
There are lots of nooks and crannies to discover throughout the grounds and various levels with benches where you can soak up the sun and the amazing views across the Cotswolds. If you love photography, this is definitely a great place to check out, you won’t run out of subject matter easily here!
We finished our day in our typical National Trust-style, with a trip to the tea room. I just had to sample the rhubarb and apple crumble you see 😊!
If you are in the Cotswold area and are looking for a quirky day out then I’d definitely give Snowshill a try.