Looking over a golf course towards trees

Outing to Basildon Park

Monday 21 October 2024
08:30 to 19:30

To say that Basildon Park has had a chequered history in the past is something of an understatement! It only survives because of the determination and munificence of Lord and Lady Iliffe. It was designed by John Carr of York, and was built between 1776 and 1783 for Francis Sykes who made a fortune in service with the East India Company. It is built of Bath Stone, with a rusticated ground floor, and a piano nobile floor above, which has large, tall windows to denote the importance of the rooms. Since then, it has passed through numerous owner’s hands, and been used for many different purposes, such as a convalescent home in WWI, as a billet for troops during WWII, and a training ground for tank and ground warfare. A Caretaker even stole lead from the roof!

Many of its original fixtures and fitting were sold. The Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York, contains the original Fireplace, Mirrors and Ceiling paintings from the Dining Room at Basildon Park! Gradually, however, the mansion has recovered its previous elegance due to the devoted attention given to it by Lord and Lady Iliffe. They breathed new life into the once neglected mansion by redecorating the interiors, resourcing furniture, paintings and art work. There is a richly decorated Neoclassical Hall where the plasterwork panels and ceiling are all original, as are the heavy mahogany doors. The spectacular Staircase Hall is lit by a clerestory, and the cantilevered stairs lead up to an arched first floor gallery. There is an Octagonal drawing Room with a heavy Italianate ceiling, and a Shell Room created by Lady Iliffe.

There is a particularly magnificent State Bed (c1829) with its original crimson damask hangings, window curtains and a suite of furniture bought at the sale of Ashburnham Place in 1953. There are many paintings and decorative pieces of glass and porcelain, a settee “attributed” to Thomas Chippendale, and a particularly interesting display of drawings by Sutherland for his Coventry Cathedral tapestry. All this that you can see today is the result of their dedication to the restoration of this lovely building.

In 1978 the Iliffes gave the House and Park, with a large endowment for its upkeep, to the National Trust, enabling the House to be opened to the public, giving an insight to the interior of a grand House during both the 18th and 19th centuries, and a rare view of how such houses can be adapted to suit a more modern life-style. It was their wish that “the National Trust will protect it, and its Park, for future generations to enjoy. (It was used as the location for Netherfield Park in the film of Pride and Prejudice in 2005).

From Fairfield Road
(view map)
Cost £28.50