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Stanford Hall

LE17 6DH

Tel : 01788 860250

Fax : 01788 860870

Stanford Hall is an attractive William and Mary house set on the banks of the River Avon. The estate has been the home of the Cave family, ancestors of the present owner, Lady Braye, since 1430. In 1697 - 1700 Sir Roger Cave engaged William Smith of Warwick to demolish the old manor house and build the present house. His more famous brother, Francis Smith, later designed the main staircase and stable block and remodelled the east facade. In 1745 Sir Thomas Cave commissioned Francis Smith's son, another William, to heighten and redecorate the entrance hall of the south front. Sir Thomas also had a dam built upstream of the house to make the Avon an ornamental feature of the park. In 1792 the estate passed to Sir Thomas's granddaughter, Sarah. She also inherited the title of Braye through her grandmother, Margaret Verney, and in 1880 became 3rd Baroness Braye. During the 19th century the house had been neglected but in 1880 it was repaired and remodelled and today it is still the family home. Stanford Hall is approached by a long, straight avenue. The south front is ashlar-faced under a hipped roof, with sash windows and a slightly recessed centre. The window over the original front door is decorated with carved garlands of fruit. Brick was used for the other facades and for the fine stable block, added by Francis Smith in 1737. Stanford Hall is now entered from the east but the finest rooms are in the centre. The house is notable for its portraits, furniture and objets d'art collected over the centuries by the family. The main staircase, created by Francis Smith in 1730, has carved wooden balusters and a delicate plaster ceiling. Francis' son, William, remodelled the splendid pink and gold Ballroom, which was originally the entrance hall. The coved ceiling was decorated by the plasterer John Wright of Worcester and there are also spectacular 'trompe l'oeil' shells at the corners. On the walls is an important collection of Royal Stuart portraits. These paintings and other Jacobite mementoes originally belonged to Henry, Cardinal York, the last of the male Stuarts, and were purchased in Rome by the 3rd Lady Braye in 1842. These include two portraits of the Old Pretender, one of his wife and one of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Portraits of Cardinal York can be seen in the entrance corridor and in one of the bedrooms upstairs. The Old Dining Room houses an unusual collection of family costumes, together with also some early Tudor portraits and a fine Empire chandelier. The Library and Dining Room in the east range were converted from bedroom suites in the late 18th century. The Library contains over 5,000 books and many interesting manuscripts, the oldest dating from 1150. The Green Drawing Room, the former great parlour, retains its panelling from 1716 but the neo-Rococo ceiling dates from 1880. These rooms and passages are hung with many paintings including portraits of Lady Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry VIII and Sir Edmund Verney, Charles I's standard-bearer. Stanford Hall is surrounded by open parkland. The North Lawn is separated from the mile-long North Avenue by an early ha-ha. Behind the handsome stable block is a walled rose garden. The stables now house a display of old motor cycles and a replica of an early flying machine tested in the park in 1899 with fatal results.