Squerryes Court Tunbridge Wells
Kent TN16 1SL
 
 
 
 
Fans of the BBC TV 2009 mini-series Emma will be delighted to know that they can visit the house and gardens used in the production. Squerryes Court, near Westerham, served as Emma Woodhouse’s home ‘Hartfield’ and it is only 25 miles (42 km) from London.
 
The house got its odd name from the de Squerie family who lived in a medieval manor on the site until the mid 15th century. In 1681 the new owner, Sir Nicholas Crispe, a wealthy London merchant, tore down the old building and replaced it with this beautiful 17th century house.
 
In 1731 John Warde bought Squerryes Court from the 3rd Earl of Jersey. The Warde family’s wealth came from the manufacture of cloth. John’s great-uncle was Sir Patience Warde, a Yorkshireman, who had made a fortune as a silk and cloth merchant in London and became Lord Mayor in 1680.
 
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Sir Patience was succeeded in his business by his nephew, Sir John Warde, who also became Lord Mayor and one of the first Governors of the Bank of England. It was his son who purchased the house.
 
The House
Built in warm orange brick, the house is set on a terrace and perfectly symmetrical. It is seven bays wide and two storeys high, with an attic in the hipped roof. The landscaped gardens include a lake created in the hollow below the house and a grand formal garden laid out on the hillside behind.
 
The formal garden was subsequently re-landscaped in the mid 18th century however, the Warde family has restored the formal garden to its 1719 design using a contemporary print as a guide.
 
The original purchaser’s son, also John Warde, inherited Squerryes Court in 1746. He was a great art collector and, although he did not go on the Grand Tour, he purchased 93 paintings over a period of 25 years from private sales, dealers and auction houses. His fine collection of paintings still adorns the house.
 
Tour of the House
The house is filled with Old Masters, furniture, porcelain and tapestries, all of which were acquired or commissioned by the family in the 18th century.
 
The large and light entrance hall is hung with impressive family portraits. Over the fireplace is a painting of Sir Patience Warde by Riley and on the other side is John Warde and his wife, the first members of the family to live in the house.
 
The Drawing Room overlooks the garden. It was remodelled in the 18th century and has a fine plaster ceiling. The paintings are of the Dutch school, mostly dating from the 17th century. Between the windows are superb English gilt-framed mirrors and console tables dating from the 1720s.
 
In the Dining Room the marble fireplace is original and the walnut dining chairs also belong to the 1720s. The walls are hung with 18th century portraits of the Wardes. On the north wall is a group portrait of the family by John Wootton shortly after their arrival at Squerryes Court, with the house in the background. A painting of John Warde's son holding a champion racehorse is by George Stubbs.
 
Sir Patience and Lady Elizabeth Warde watch over visitors as they ascend the staircase. At the top of the stairs is the Tapestry Room, where the splendid early 18th century panelling frames fine floral panels of Soho tapestry. Over the chimneypiece is a painting by Poussin and the room has superb black and gold lacquered furniture.
 
Westerham was the childhood home of the famous General James Wolfe. He was born in Quebec House and grew up sharing a friendship with the Wardes. The Wolfe Room next to the Tapestry Room commemorates this friendship.
 
The Picture Gallery has a superb collection of Old Masters including works by Van Dyck, Peter de Ring and Louis Giordano. The vast equestrian portrait of Philip II of Spain by Rubens was commissioned posthumously by Philip IV. The room also contains 18th century lacquered furniture.
 
The Gardens
Squerryes Court is surrounded by wood and parkland and there are beautiful views over the lake to the hills beyond. The well-cared for gardens have formal beds beneath the east front and sweeping lawns reach down to the lake in the west.
 
The formal gardens feature manicured topiary, and parterres. The gardens are a picture all year round with spring bulbs, wild flowers, azaleas, summer flowering herbaceous borders and roses.
 
There is a brick dovecote – this was pigeon-breeding on an industrial scale. The young birds (squabs) were a source of food for the house.
 
This beautifully preserved house is still the home of the Warde family.
 
By the way, Emma fans wishing to stroll around Hartfield’s village must go to Chilham, also in Kent. Childham village is between Ashford and Canterbury.
 
Membership
The house and gardens are only available to Squerryes members for private events. There is no public access. For details on membership go to  Web:  Membership at Squerryes    External Link
 
Contact & Further Information
Telephone   +44 (0)1959 562 345
Mail   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website   The Squerryes Estate    External Link
 
Getting There
Half a mile west of the centre of Westerham.
Exit M25 at Junction 5 or 6 on to A25 - 10 minutes to Westerham, Signposted.
Free parking at site.  
 
Google Maps - Squerryes Court