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Mapledurham House

Post Code : RG4 7TR
Telephone : 0118 972 3350
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Mapledurham is fine, red-brick late-16th century manor house set at the edge of the village and close to the River Thames.

In the late Middle Ages the Mapledurham estate passed from the Bardolf family to the Lyndes.

A large part of Lyndes' timber-framed house was retained when Sir Michael Blount built the present, far larger, house in 1588.

Sir Michael was Lieutenant of the Tower of London whose grandfather, Richard Blount, had purchased the estate in 1490. The Blount family were Catholic recusants and in the 17th and early 18th centuries the estate suffered a decline.

However, the family fortunes had recovered by the 19th century and in 1828 - 31 Michael Henry Blount restored the exterior in Elizabethan style and created new interiors.

In the 20th century the direct line of the Blount family died out and in 1943 the Mapledurham estate passed by descent to the current owner, a member of one of the county's oldest Catholic families.

Today the house is run by the Mapledurham Trust.

The Elizabethan house, set on sweeping lawns, is H-shaped with attractive brickwork and tall chimneys.

The picturesque remains of the Lynde family's medieval house provide a great contrast to the rather severe 16th century building that replaced it.

Although at first glance Mapledurham appears to be an unaltered example of late-16th century domestic architecture there have been several alterations. In the 18th century the chimneys were rearranged and the original gables removed.

The neo-Tudor porch was added in the 1820s and at the same time the brickwork of the entrance front was restored and the windows returned to their original mullioned and transomed appearance.

The 18th century modifications to the interior included moving the Hall to the centre of the main block and creating a new Dining Room and Library on either side.

The decoration in the Hall dates from the mid-19th century but the carved animal heads and deer are from the 17th and 18th centuries. The Hall is dominated by a magnificent portrait of Sir Charles Blount, who died at the siege of Oxford during the Civil War, by William Dobson.

The simply decorated Library contains books bequeathed by the poet Alexander Pope and portraits by Romney.

In 1797 a private Catholic chapel was added to the west side of the Hall. It was created in 'Strawberry Hill Gothic' and it still retains the elaborate Gothic plasterwork. From the chapel a passage leads to the Staircase Hall which has a mid-17th century wooden staircase hung with family portraits. The ornate plasterwork ceiling dates from 1612.

The principal rooms on the first floor were greatly altered in the late-18th century.

The original Great Chamber, now the Saloon, still retains its early 17th century plaster ceiling. The room has some good 18th century furniture and family portraits, including Martha and Teresa Boult, who Alexander Pope came to court at Mapledurham.

The adjacent Boudoir contains a portrait of Pope by Kneller, together with a mirror and a landscape by John Wooton that once belonged to the poet. From here the visitor passes through the State Bedroom and down a staircase to the Dining Room.

This is on the south side of the house and was decorated in neo-classical style in 1828. On the wall is a superb full-length portrait of Lady St John dated 1615 attributed to William Larkin.

Close to Mapledurham House is a medieval church, restored by William Butterfield, and a late 15th century watermill.

The watermill is in full working order and produces flour and bran which can be purchased in the gift shop. The medieval part of Mapeldurham House now contains a tea room.

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Mapledurham House
House Features
Elizabethan house, paintings, gardens and parklands next to the river, watermill.
Opening Times
Easter Saturday - Sept: Sat, Sun, and Bank Holidays 14:00-17:30, last entry 17:00.
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