Stonor Park


 

Experience the stately family home of Stonor Park. Home to the Stonor Family for over 850 years, look behind the scenes at this historic property.

 

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EXPERIENCE OVERVIEW

🛣️Car journey time from London:

1.5hrs - 42 miles / 67.5 km

🛏️Recommended accommodation:

The Hand and Flowers

Cliveden House

Monkey Island Estate

🏰Other History and Culture experiences:

Oxford

Blenheim Palace

Exploring British Literature

Stratford-upon-Avon

📆View our suggested itinerary:

The 3 Days of History and Culture Experience

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STEP BACK IN TIME AT STONOR PARK

Stonor Park has been the Stonor family’s residence for 850 years. Making it one of the oldest family homes still lived in today. Step back in time with us for an experience like no other! When you visit, you will see why. It’s beautiful.

The historic building and sweeping grounds are breath taking. And the family collection of art and artefacts is extraordinary. It’s fascinating. You can view the work of St. Edmund Campion, created when he was given refuge here in 1581. And outside sits our oldest resident: a perfectly preserved prehistoric stone circle.

The real history of Stonor is a history of characters. The family have left their mark in both private and public life for centuries. The faces looking out from the portraits around the house tell stories of service to the country, family life and great curiosity of the expanding world.

The first mention of Stonor is 'Stanora Lege,' or 'stony hill,' appearing in AD 774 with the first recorded family member, Robert De Stanora, living there during the late 12th century. Throughout the next three centuries, the family prospered, acquiring lands and titles, administering lucrative wardships and farming their flocks of sheep. The Stonors fought in great battles, held high office and displayed an uncanny knack of marrying rich heiresses from powerful local families.

 

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DISCOVER THE STORY OF STONOR PARK

“The faces looking out from the portraits around the house tell stories of service to the country, family life and great curiosity of the expanding world.” This expansion was curtailed with Henry VIII’s Act of Supremacy, as the Catholic Stonors refused to accept the monarch as head of the church. This unwavering commitment to their faith came at a great cost, and by 1650 all of the Stonor estates, barring the Stonor Valley, had been sold to pay recusancy fines.

After generations of lobbying, the Catholic Emancipation Act was eventually passed in 1829 at which point the 3rd Lord Camoys once more embraced government and public life. The current Lord Camoys served as Lord Chamberlain to the Queen until 2000, while his son William served in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Stonor is now home to three generations of the Stonor family – the Lord and Lady Camoys reside in the recently restored 14th Century Wool House, and the Hon. William and Lady Ailsa Stonor reside in the main house with their three children. Stonor Park is one of the oldest family homes still lived in today - but it’s no museum.

 

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THE HISTORY OF STONOR PARK

Behind the warm red brick façade, Stonor is actually a collection of much older buildings. In fact its origins go back to Medieval times. The area now housing the cosy Stonor Pantry cafe dates from the late 12th Century, with the Chapel added around a hundred years later. Since then a series of additions and renovations, including the adoption of the E-shape in around 1540 have evolved into the extraordinary building you can see and explore today. Highlights include the grand Gothic revival hall, atmospheric 17th century library and the dramatic long gallery opening onto beautiful Italianate gardens.

The fortunes of the house and chapel are strongly tied to the travails of the Catholics in Britain. When Henry VIII formed the Church of England in the 1530s Catholics, including the Stonor family were forced to take a much reduced part in public life. Crippling fines were levied and many were persecuted and forced to go into hiding. At Stonor, there is a poignant reminder of these times in the roof space and priest hole where Sir Edmund Campion hid whilst printing the famous Ten Reasons’ pamphlet in the 1580s.

 

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THE STONOR LANDSCAPE AND GARDENS

We recommend taking in the natural wonder of the surrounding parkland, with its lush green slopes fringed by a host of centuries-old beech and ash trees. This verdant habitat is the home of an ancient herd of fallow deer who have supplied venison to countless Kings and Queens throughout history. Living alongside the deer are badgers, hares, rabbits, pheasant, soaring red kites, ravens and buzzards.

Stone Circle

Older even than Stonor House is the stone circle, made from the very stones that give the valley its name. Formed of giant boulders left behind at the end of the last Ice Age, prehistoric man believed in the mystical powers of these visitors and placed them on end to form a ritual circle.

In 601 AD, Pope Gregory the Great called on the missionary priests in England to adopt Pagan sites of worship for the Catholic faith and The Chapel at Stonor was subsequently built on the site of the circle. You can see one of the original stones symbolically supporting the corner of the Chapel where it was incorporated into the foundations.

The Italianate Pleasure Garden

You will love the serenity of the Renaissance ponds, fountains and our curious little Japanese hideaway. You will love to wander amongst the ancient yews, clipped box hedges and abundant plants and flowers. Across the herbaceous border and through the iron gates, you can glimpse of an area known simply as Grandmother’s Garden – a seasonal bloom of colour!

The Old Kitchen Garden

Spring and summer in The Old Kitchen Garden is really quite beautiful. Lined with apple and plum trees with blossoms sensationally in the spring. Dazzling displays of May-flowering irises, June-blooming peonies and heritage roses create a timeless beauty.

The Arboretum

Wandering through the Arboretum you will meet mature and young trees alike. The malus, mulberries and ornamental cherries are under-planted with dapples of primroses and narcissi, splashing colour onto the landscape - a majestic sight in the spring when the cherry-blossoms fall.

 

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