Tyntesfield – A Glorious Victorian Gothic Revival Estate That Sometimes Keeps You in the Dark!
Image by antonychammond
Explore #126 – March 4th
Tyntesfield is a Victorian Gothic Revival estate near Wraxall, North Somerset, England, near Nailsea, seven miles from Bristol.
The house was acquired by the National Trust in June 2002 after a fund raising campaign to prevent it being sold to private interests and ensure it be opened to the public. It was opened to visitors for the first time just 10 weeks after the acquisition and as more rooms are restored they are added to the tour. It was visited by 104,451 people in 2009, a 3.4% rise on the previous year.
The Gibbs family’s fortunes originated in the establishment of a trading company by Antony Gibbs (1756–1816). Gibbs dealt mainly with Spain, and eventually took his two oldest sons (William and George) into partnership. After Antony’s death, his sons built up a substantial trade in guano from the former Spanish colonies in South America. The firm’s profits from this trade were such that William Gibbs became one of the richest men in England, and was able to finance the construction of Tyntesfield as a country seat for his family.
William Gibbs purchased Tyntes Place, the original Regency-Gothic house that stood on the site, in 1843. In 1863 he began the full-blown rebuilding to create the Gothic Revival extravaganza that now stands; the cost was £70,000. Notable elements of the house include glass by Powell and Wooldridge, mosaics by Salviati, and ironwork by Hart, Son, Peard and Co. The original architect was John Norton. In the 1880s further alterations were made by architect Henry Woodyer. The chapel was designed by Arthur William Blomfield in the 1870s.
William was married to Matilda Blanche Crawley-Boevey. They had seven children and eighteen grandchildren. The family were devout Anglicans, and William and his wife were supporters of the Oxford Movement. He was a major benefactor of Keble College Oxford.
William’s grandson George served as a soldier, as the MP for Bristol West, and as Treasurer of the Household. He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for the Colonies the Rt Hon Walter Hume Long, MP (later Viscount Long of Wraxall). His first wife was Victoria Florence de Burgh Long, daughter of Walter Hume Long. Victoria died at Tyntesfield from influenza in 1920, and in 1927 he married secondly, Ursula Mary Lawley, daughter of Lord Wenlock, and Maid of Honour to Queen Mary.
George Gibbs was elevated to the peerage as Baron Wraxall in 1928. In 1931, he was succeeded by his son from his second marriage, George (known as Richard), who died unmarried in 2001. On his death, the estate was sold. Richard’s brother Sir Eustace Gibbs, a diplomat, is now the third Baron Wraxall.
In World War II the U.S. Army Medical Corps established a facility for wounded soldiers known as the 74th General Hospital in the grounds.
The appeal by the National Trust collected £8.2 million from the public in just 100 days and the Trust also received the largest single grant ever by the National Heritage Memorial Fund (at £17.4 million), which caused some controversy. The National Lottery has earmarked a further £25 million for the major conservation work that is needed.
Since 2004 staff have been cataloging the contents of the house, which had been collected by the four generations of the family. By 2008 a total of 30,000 items had been listed including an unexploded Second World War bomb, a jewel-encrusted chalice, a roll of 19th-century flock wallpaper and a coconut with carved face and hair. A further 10,000 items are being catalogued and photographed.
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