Garden, shrubberies, and landscape park, probably early C19, associated with a manor house.
In the Middle Ages Chavenage belonged to the manor of Horsley, part of the estates of Bruton Abbey, Somerset. There was a farm at Chavenage before the Dissolution, and elements of this survive. In 1564 the estate was sold to Edward Stephens of Eastington, who began a major reconstruction of the medieval house, adding wings at either end and the north porch. The Stephens family still retained the estate in the C18, when Nathaniel Stephens (d 1732) was succeeded by four sons who held it in turn: Richard (d 1770), Nathaniel (d 1776), the Rev Robert (d 1777), and Henry (d 1795). On the death in 1801 of Anne, the widow of the last, the property passed to a cousin, Henry Hannes Willis, who took the name Stephens by royal licence. He extended and remodelled the House in a sympathetic manner, and it seems likely that it was in his time that the park was created and gardens laid out. In 1814 he became a Dominican friar and renounced the estate in favour of a nephew. In 1860 the property was let to the Chaplin family, who remained here as tenants until 1891. Meanwhile, in 1871, the heavily mortgaged estate was sold to Col W W Hoole for his undergraduate son George Williams Lowsley Hoole-Lowsley-Williams (d 1937). Thereafter it descended in the Lowsley-Williams family, and it remains (1999) in private hands.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Chavenage House stands on the edge of its park c 3km north-west of Tetbury, the two being connected by the unclassified road which bounds the grounds to the north-east. The House stands at the north end of its park, the ground sloping gently downhill across the park before dropping more sharply to its south boundary. This is followed by a footpath which, as a continuation of Chavenage Lane, continues up the west boundary of the park. The area here registered is c 35ha.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
Chavenage House is approached from the north-west, through iron gates hung on tall stone piers with urns, probably early to mid C18 (listed grade II).
Chavenage House (listed grade I) is an asymmetrical E-plan building of Cotswold stone and with a stone-tiled roof, aligned east/west with its entrance front to the north. The existing hall was extended after 1574 when east and west wings and a north porch (dated 1576) were added. The present west wing, including a ballroom, was added in 1904 to a design by John T Micklethaite. Attached to the west end of the House is the chapel (listed grade I), with squat west tower, first recorded in 1803.
To the north-west of the House, outside the registered area, are its farmhouse and service buildings.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
On the north side of the house the drive runs around a grass turning circle. On the lawns to either side of the drive as it approaches the main gate are shrubs and mature specimen trees, notably near the gates where there are several large coniferous species including a cedar of Lebanon and a yew.
The main garden and Shrubbery spreads east/west to the south of the House, separated from the park by a 400m long drystone ha-ha up to 2m deep. Against the House itself, and running gently downhill for c 70m to the ha-ha, is a lawn, around the edge of which are specimen trees and shrubs. Behind these, to east and west, is the Shrubbery, mixed woodland within which there are some mature specimen trees, including a large cedar of Lebanon on the edge of the east section of the Shrubbery. In the Shrubbery c 50m east of the House, and approached by a short avenue of Thu'ja, is an artificial ruin (listed grade II), with a gabled facade faced with vermiculated stone or tufa and pierced by a central gothic door with a rustick doorcase of a split, knobbled tree trunk (collapsing away from the facade 1999); it is probably C18.
The park is roughly oval. In 1999 the north-west section (the Cricket Pitch) was permanent pasture with some mature parkland trees and a clump of limes, while the rest of the park was in arable cultivation. Several fenced clumps of trees lie in the south part of the park. A small copse surrounded by a low drystone wall is located c 500m south of the House. Within is Cromwell's Bath, a semi-ruinous cold bath comprising a below ground arched chamber 2.5m high and measuring c 6m east/west by 2.5m, approached by steps from the south. All the structure's walls and its roof are of drystone construction; it may be of late C18 date. Some 10m to the south is a small circular pool.
Stylistically, the park, ha-ha, and shrubberies are of the late C18 or early C19, and are shown fully formed on an estate map of 1838. It seems most probable that they were laid out between 1801 and 1814 by Henry Stephens. No trace remained in the late C20 of an avenue which formerly ran on a south-easterly line across the east part of the park.
The former walled kitchen garden, now used as paddock and car parking, lies c 100m west of the House, screened from it by the Shrubbery. Drystone walls define an irregular area c 130m long from south-west to north-east and c 70m wide. No glass survives.
Country Life, 29 (15 April 1911), pp 524-31
Victoria History of the County of Gloucestershire XI, (1976), pp 177-8
N Kingsley, The Country Houses of Gloucestershire, Volume One, 1500-1660 (1989), pp 72-6
Chavenage, guidebook, (nd, c 1997)
Map of Chavenage Estate, 1838 (private collection)
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1881, published 1886
Description written: June 1999
Amended: May 2001
Register Inspector: PAS
Edited: March 2003