Upton House, Warwickshire

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Upton House
Upton House.jpg
The South Terrace
Upton House, Warwickshire is located in Warwickshire
Upton House, Warwickshire
Location within Warwickshire
General information
TypeStately home
Locationnear Banbury, Oxfordshire
Coordinates52°06′43″N 1°27′35″W / 52.11199°N 1.45966°W / 52.11199; -1.45966Coordinates: 52°06′43″N 1°27′35″W / 52.11199°N 1.45966°W / 52.11199; -1.45966
CompletedBuilt c.1695
Ownerin the care of the National Trust

Upton House is a country house in the civil parish of Ratley and Upton, in the English county of Warwickshire, about 7 miles (11 km) northwest of Banbury, Oxfordshire. It is in the care of the National Trust.


Footage of front and rear of the house

The house was built on the site of the hamlet of Upton, which was destroyed in about 1500 when the land was cleared for pasture.[1] The estate passed through various hands until the early 16th century when it was bought by Sir William Danvers. It remained with the Danvers family until 1688 when Sir Rushout Cullen purchased the estate for £7,000 (equivalent to £1,240,000 in 2018).[2] Cullen built the house for himself in about 1695.

In 1757 the house was bought by banker Francis Child for use as a hunting lodge and it remained in the Jersey family until the end of the 19th century when it was held by George Child Villiers, 5th Earl of Jersey.[3] In 1927 the estate was acquired by Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted, who owed his fortune to the fact that his father Marcus Samuel was the founder of the oil company Shell Transport & Trading. Lord Bearsted donated the house, gardens and art collection to the National Trust in 1948.

Lord Bearsted's son, the 3rd Viscount, lived at Upton from 1948 until his death in 1986 and added to the gift to the National Trust the collection of fine porcelain. On the death of the 3rd Viscount, the furniture and other items on view in the rooms were offered to the nation by his daughter, Hon. Mrs. R. Waley-Cohen, through the "in lieu" system, on condition that they remain at Upton and on view to the public.

Mrs. Waley-Cohen continued to live in the house until 1988, when the family moved to another property on the estate. In October 1991, she offered for sale by public auction, a large number of items which were considered surplus to requirements. The sale, by Christie's, took place at the house, in a total of 1083 separate lots, and included pictures, furniture, porcelain, silver, objects and carpets.[3]


Upton is a long low house built of local yellow sandstone. It was considerably expanded from 1927-1929 for the 2nd Viscount Bearsted by Morley Horder who retained the Carolean style appearance of the exterior while introducing some art déco elements in the interior, particularly in the bathroom for Lady Bearsted, where the walls are covered in aluminium leaf. The style of interiors at Upton has been described by art critic Osbert Lancaster as Curzon Street Baroque.

A main attraction of Upton is the garden. A lawn, with huge cedar trees, sweeps gently down from the house and below is an extensive terraced garden. The garden features a kitchen garden, a series of herbaceous borders and a large lake with water lilies in a small valley. The terracing, unseen from the house and on a first visit unsuspected, contains the National Collection of Aster. In use since the 12th century, the gardens were largely transformed by Kitty Lloyd-Jones for Lady Bearsted in the 1920s and 1930s, including the creation of a rare Bog Garden on the site of medieval fish ponds.[4]

Art collection[edit]

Perhaps uniquely among country houses owned by the National Trust, its significance lies principally in its art collection. The house is presented more as an art gallery than as a private home, although care has been taken to restore the house to how it looked in the 1930s. It contains a unique art deco bathroom and a collection of early Shell advertising posters, together with some of their original artwork, by such artists as Rex Whistler.

The collection was assembled by Lord Bearsted, helped by his being a Trustee of the National Gallery. Lord Bearsted's sister Nellie Inonides also became an avid collector. The collection at Upton includes English and Continental old masters: Tiepolo, Anthony Devis, Francesco Guardi, Jan Steen, Melchior de Hondecoeter, Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, Tintoretto and Rogier van der Weyden.

Highlights of the collection include:

There is also a collection of English fine porcelain, including Chelsea, Derby, Bow and Worcester, as well as some French Sèvres.


  1. ^ Salzman, L.F., ed. (1949). Victoria County History of Warwickshire. vol.5. pp. 144–147.
  2. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b Christie's Sale Catalogue for Upton House, 14 & 15 October 1991
  4. ^ "Upton House Garden". www.gardenvisit.com. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  5. ^ JustGiving. "Read Adam's story". www.justgiving.com. Retrieved 3 November 2018.

External links[edit]