DISCOVERING THE HOUSE
The joy of Loseley House is that so little has changed, for the current house is still fundamentally that built in the 16th century. True there have been minor internal alterations – and an entire wing was added in the 17th century and then lost – but to all intents the house you see now would still be familiar to its original occupants.
The story of Loseley Park begins with the purchase of the Manor of Loseley during the reign of Henry VII. As Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex the purchaser, Sir Christopher More, was a man of considerable influence and power, yet it was his son, Sir William More, also a direct ancestor of the current owner, who first began building work in earnest.
As was common, much of the stone was reclaimed from earlier buildings, in Loseley’s case from the Cistercian Abbey of Waverley ten miles away at Farnham where ruins can still be seen. That honey-coloured monastic stone was fortunate, for it lends Loseley House a peaceful, deep and mellow mood that can still be felt, particularly on summer evenings.
In the centuries that followed the fortunes of the More-Molyneux family waxed and waned. As in every ancient family, there were unfortunate marriages and political successes, times of influences and times when it seemed the family and the house might finally be parted.
Yet the link remains unbroken. The 500 year story of the More-Molyneux family and their home at Loseley Park House continues – and visitors will find it as fascinating and compelling as any in British history.
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That Loseley House is a living home, and has been for over 500 years, echoes through every room. In the Great Hall, small domestic details of day-to-day life sit happily next to great moments in history – George IV’s coronation chair, panels carved for Henry VIII’s banqueting tents, work by Grindling Gibbons, England’s finest ever woodcarver. That blend of the simple and the significant is there wherever you look.
The ceiling in the Drawing Room was commissioned for a visit by James I, the fireplace, carved from a single monumental block of chalk, is to a design by Holbein, and the cushions on the maid of honour chairs are reputed to have been worked by Queen Elizabeth I. Any visit to Loseley Park House is a reminder that history is about people and the details of their lives they leave behind – at Loseley Park that process continues still.
Nothing about the rooms or furniture at Loseley is staged, for every table, every chair, every cabinet, was originally here as working pieces of furniture – and so remain preserved in the domestic setting the original designers and craftsmen intended.
Yet it is the More-Molyneux family portraits that tell the most compelling and most intimate story. An almost complete history of the family is documented through art, with every generation from Sir William More onward represented and with small intimate details everyday life showing through in even the most formal work.