(Above photo - Luton Hoo - stroll the gardens after your afternoon tea... )
What better way to round off a trip to Canonbury Antiques by visiting the wonderful stately home that is Luton Hoo? Just 25 minutes away up the M1 in Bedfordshire, their afternoon tea is amazing and then you can walk around the inspiring Capability Brown designed gardens. What I really love about Luton Hoo is it's managability - it's not too big and daunting like some of the grander country houses.
When historical English country houses are mentioned, that of Luton Hoo cannot fail to be on the list. The house is situated on a vast estate standing between Luton and Harpenden. A large portion of the estate lies in Hyde, Bedfordshire, even though part of it is in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. In the Saxon language, “Hoo” means a hill’s offshoot.
History of Luton Hoo
(Above photo - The Capability Brown designed gardens are a delight )
The history of Luton Hoo begins in 1601 when Robert Napier acquired the estate. As the latest owner, Napier occupied the manor, which had originally been built by Thomas Hoo in 1455. However, the Hoo family had in subsequent years sold the manor to the Rotherham family, which eventually sold the house to Napier. However, that house no longer stands on site, having been replaced by the current one as from 1762. The man credited with building the new house is John Stuart, the Earl of Bute.
Neoclassical architect, Robert Adams was asked to construct a brand new house in place of the existing one. For some reason, the old house was never fully torn down. Instead, the old house was remodeled to come up with a new one. In 1771, a fire burnt down the new house, reducing the Earl’s efforts to ashes. Determined to develop the property, a new mansion was commissioned and completed three years later in 1774.
(Above photo - Love the classical bronze fountain in the gardens of Luton Hoo )
As the remodeling of the original house was taking place, the Earl hired Capability Brown to work on the extensive gardens. At that time, the area covered 300 acres but has since been extended to 1,065 acres. In an ambitiously executed plan, Capability Brown managed to form two lakes out of River Lea. The garden remains as magnificent as was envisaged at that time.
When the Earl’s grandson became the owner of the property, he asked Sir Robert Smirke, the architect who built the British Museum to further transform the house. In the process, he creates a massive mansion with a welcoming interior. A fire accident burnt down the house in 1843. After buying the estate, John Leigh began to rebuild it. The architects reworked the exterior and interior to create the magnificent building standing on site today.
(Above photo - Inside the walls of Bedfordshire's best Stately Home )
During the Second World War, Luton Hoo served as the Eastern Command’s headquarters. The last person to call Luton Hoo home was Nicholas Philips a grandson of Lady Zia. Upon his sudden death in 1991, Philips left behind huge debts promoting the sale of the house to Elite Hotels. Since then, the estate has been converted to Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf, and Spa.
Why Is Luton Hoo Famous?
(Above photo - Four Weddings and a Funeral was shot at Luton Hoo )
Given its colorful history, it is easy to understand why Luton Hoo is famous until today. It is a popular five-star hotel and continues to attract international golf tournaments. Because of its checkered history, the estate has acted as the location for the shooting of various movies and TV programs. Examples include The Secret Garden, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Sexy Beast, Bleak House, and Mr. Turner. You can reach it by air, train, or road. If you are coming through London, you may use the train or taxi. Alternatively, you can fly directly to Luton Airport, which is 10 minutes away.
Reservations for afternoon tea at Luton Hoo can be made here
Read - Capability Brown - Englands Greatest Gardener by Canonbury Antiques
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