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Lytes Cary

Location

Somerset Map

OS Ref: ST 533 266

Last Visited: 2015

Lytes Cary

Lytes Cary

The beautiful manor house of Lytes Cary is the perfect combination of a medieval manor house and a sensitive Arts and Crafts inspired restoration.

Begun in the 1460s by Thomas Lyte near to the River Cary (hence the name), the house remained in the Lyte family for three hundred years.

The Great Parlour Window

The Great Parlour Window

They were quiet, scholarly, middling sort of people with no great ambitions. The most famous of them being Henry Lyte who published his Niewe Herbal, an English translation of a famous Flemish herbal by Renbert Dodoens, in 1578.

However, the family ran into serious financial problems, and in 1755 the house was put in the hands of trustees and rented out.

It was neglected and left to slowly decay throughout the nineteenth century, thus escaping the attention of the sometimes over zealous Victorian restorers.

The Sunken Garden

The Sunken Garden

Salvation came in 1907 when the house was bought by Sir Walter Jenner and his wife Flora. Along with Sir Walter's brother, Leopold, who bought Avebury Manor in Wiltshire, they were keen followers of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement.

Both the Jenners' children predeceased them, so when Sir Walter died in 1948 he bequeathed the property to the National Trust.

Although the Jenners had laid out the bare bones of the garden, what we see today is largely the result of the work of Graham Stuart Thomas, the National Trust's first Garden Advisor, and Biddy and Jeremy Chittenden, the Trust's tenants between 1955 and 1997.

For opening times, admission prices, etc. please see the National Trust's official site detailed below.

The Screens Passage

The Screens Passage

When the Jenners found Lytes Cary in 1907 the Great Hall was being used as a cider store, and the Great Parlour was full of farm equipment.

Employing the architect C E Ponting, they rebuilt the north and west ranges in a plain William and Mary style that later generations of the Lytes might have used if they had had the money. These now house the tea rooms and a self-catering holiday let.

The old part of the house was lovingly restored, the Jenners even going so far as to insert a replica Gothic screens passage into the Great Hall.

Their aim was to invoke an atmosphere of age and gradual accumulation rather than create historically precise period rooms. And very successful it was too.