Located in Hampshire near Basingstoke, The Vyne was built in the early 16th century but improved over the succeeding centuries. It thus incorporates a number of architectural styles. It is also remarkable that although The Vyne was owned by prominent people during tumultuous periods of English history, The Vyne has led a surprisingly quiet existence.
The Vyne was constructed during the reign of King Henry VIII. William Sandys enjoyed the confidence of the king, who made him first a Knight of the Bedhamber and subsequently, Lord Chamberlain. However, Henry was mercurial and as many powerful figures found out the hard way, he could turn on friends who disagreed with him.
Sandys was opposed to the king's plan to divorce his first wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon, in order to marry Anne Boelyn. However, Sandys was wise enough to keep his views private and thus avoided incurring Henry's terrible wrath. Indeed, Henry visited Sandys at The Vyne three times, once with Anne Boelyn, who was by that time Queen of England.
Aware how other courtiers who had built ostentatious houses had lost their heads, Sandys avoided extravagance in building The Vyne. It is an important house but its original design merely followed the fashion of the day without exceeding it. Sandys wisely did not want to draw attention to himself or have Henry feel that he was competing with him. He predeceased the king and thus avoided the worst part of Henry's reign.
The Vyne then passed to Sandys' son and then to his great grandson. The latter entertained Queen Elizabeth I, Anne Boelyn's daughter, at The Vyne in 1569 and in 1601.
The Sandys' continuing support of the royal family eventually led to their downfall. Parliamentary troops were quartered at The Vyne during the English Civil War. Impoverished by the war, the 6th lord was forced to sell The Vyne.
The Vyne was purchased by Chaloner Chute, a successful barrister. Chute defended a number of high profile cases but was able to avoid angering the various factions that competed in the politics of the Commonwealth period, Indeed, he was unanimously elected Speaker of the House of Commons during the protectorate of Richard Cromwell.
In his spare tine, Chute set about improving The Vyne. The improvements included the addition of a classical portico to the North Front of the house, which is said to be the earliest example of a classical portico added to an English country house.
In the 1750s, John Chute planned other classical style additions. For example, in the Staircase Hall, he replaced a stone hall and staircase with a dramatic Roman-inspired design.
Above: The South Front.
Below: A garden.
John Chute also designed the Tomb Chamber (a tribute to his ancestor Chaloner Chute who, despite the name of the room, is not buried there) but this time in a Neo-gothic style. Similarly, the Ante-Chapel was created by John Chute and his friends, including Horace Walpole, to recall the Gothic style.
The chapel itself retains its Tudor styling. Henry VIII i believed to have worshipped in the chapel during his visits to The Vyne.
The Vyne is thus a mixture of styles including Tudor, Neo-classical, rococo and Neo-gothic. When the house was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1956 by Sir Charles Chute, its contents were included, including antique furniture, paintings and prints of various styles.
Included in The Vyne's collections is a Roman ring that some say may have been the inspiration for JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.
Another literary association is the fact that Jane Austen is know to have visited The Vyne. Her brother was a vicar nearby and she attended dances at The Vyne.
The Vyne is surrounded by 13 acres of gardens, woodlands and meadows.
For information on visiting, see the National Trust website.
Cruise destination - England - Hampshire - The Vyne