Madresfield Court

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Madresfield Court
Madresfield Court - - 1764467.jpg
The Court across the moat
Type Country house
Location Madresfield, Worcestershire
Coordinates 52°07′30″N 2°16′51″W / 52.1251°N 2.2808°W / 52.1251; -2.2808Coordinates: 52°07′30″N 2°16′51″W / 52.1251°N 2.2808°W / 52.1251; -2.2808
OS grid reference SO8087347463
Built late Medieval
Architectural style(s) vernacular
Listed Building – Grade I
Designated 25 March 1968
Reference no. 153385
Madresfield Court is located in Worcestershire
Madresfield Court
Location of Madresfield Court in Worcestershire

Madresfield Court, Madresfield, near Malvern, Worcestershire is a country house. The house has been the home of the Lygon family for nearly six centuries, and has passed only by inheritance since the 12th century. The present building is largely a Victorian reconstruction, although the origins of the present house are from the 16th century, and the site has been occupied since Anglo-Saxon times. The novelist Evelyn Waugh was a frequent visitor to the house and based the family of Marchmain, who are central to his novel Brideshead Revisited, on the Lygons. Surrounded by a moat, the Court is a Grade I listed building.


The house has been the home of the Lygon family since 1450.[1] In 1593 Madresfield Court was rebuilt, replacing a 15th-century medieval building. It was again remodelled in the 19th century to resemble a moated Elizabethan house. In 1806, William Lygon was made a baronet and subsequently ennobled as Earl Beauchamp in 1815.[1] Madresfield was the home of the 7th Earl Beauchamp. Evelyn Waugh was a frequent guest to the house.[2]

In January 2006, documents revealed by the National Archives showed that emergency plans were made to evacuate Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret of the British Royal Family to Madresfield in the event of a successful German invasion following the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940.

Five years later, Worcestershire County Council's Historic, Environment and Archaeology Service showed that the 1940 plan was simply part of pre-existing 1938 invasion contingency plans. In the event of an invasion breaking out of a likely lodgement in Kent and threatening London, the whole UK government would move to Worcestershire with the Royal family residing at Madresfield.[3]

Before her death in 1989, Countess Beauchamp, the widow of William Lygon, 8th Earl Beauchamp, the last Earl Beauchamp, endowed the Elmley Foundation to ensure the Court's many generations of tradition as a patron of the arts in Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Madresfield Court has never been sold or bought in all its long history, instead simply remaining in the hands of the Lygon family.[4]

Madresfield Court is currently (2009) the home of Rosalind, Lady Morrison, niece of the 8th and last Earl Beauchamp.[5]

Architecture and description[edit]

"A moated house of considerable size,"[6] the existing building has its origins in the 16th century, the site having been occupied earlier.[7] The Tudor house followed the plan of a standard moated manor.[8] The original bridge and entrance tower are 16th century in origin, although they have been restored.[6] Charles Robert Ashbee decorated the library.[8] The house was extensively restored and rebuilt between 1866-1888 by Philip Charles Hardwick[9] for the 5th Earl, creating the current "Victorian fantasy."[8] Work continued under the 6th Earl and was completed c.1890. [10] The original Great Hall, built in the 12th century, stands at the core of this building.The chapel was designed by the architect Philip Charles Hardwick and decorated in the Arts and Crafts style by Birmingham Group artists including Henry Payne, William Bidlake and Charles March Gere.[7]


  1. ^ a b Hall 2009, pp. 97-100.
  2. ^ Mulvagh 2008, p. 2.
  3. ^ Neil Tweedie (20 January 2011). "Madresfield Court: The King's redoubt if Hitler called". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  4. ^ W. L. Beauchamp (1929), The Madresfield Muniments: With an Account of the Family and the Estates.
  5. ^ Hall 2009, p. 100.
  6. ^ a b Girouard 1979, p. 412.
  7. ^ a b "MADRESFIELD COURT, INCLUDING BRIDGE, RETAINING WALL AND NORTH SERVICE COURT - 1098779". Historic England. Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  8. ^ a b c Jenkins 2003, p. 854.
  9. ^ Good Stuff. "Madresfield Court, Including Bridge, Retaining Wall and North Service Court - Madresfield - Worcestershire - England". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  10. ^ Brooks/Pevsner 2007, p. 441.


Further reading[edit]

  • Williams, Dorothy E. (2001) The Lygons of Madresfield Court Logaston Press. Archivist and Librarian to Madresfield Court 1976-99
  • Byrne, Paula (2009) Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead, Harper Press. A study of the Lygon family and Madresfield Court as influences for Waugh's "Brideshead Revisited".

External links[edit]