Standing tall in the tiny village of Chastleton is ‘Chastleton House’, one of the best-preserved Jacobean Manor houses in the country.
The property is now owned by the National Trust and can be visited during the Summer months.
English manor houses, however insignificant and unknown they may be, do tend to have links to important episodes in English history and Chastleton is no exception.
The house was originally owned by William Catesby whose son, Robert, was the leader of the infamous ‘Gunpowder Plot’. Some have said that the plot itself was planned in the house, which is of course nonsense, as the foundations for the current building were laid in 1607, two years after the plot failed. An Oxford lawyer, one Walter Jones, purchased the old house and estate from Catesby in 1604 and spent five years building the house we see now.
The Jones family were responsible, however, for an intriguing event during the English civil war. In 1651, after the Battle of Worcester, Arthur Jones, grandson of Walter, escaped to Chastleton after the Royalist defeat. Roundhead soldiers arrived to search for him whereupon his wife Sarah drugged them with Laudanum, allowing Arthur to escape! As a result of their support of the king, the family were bankrupted which was bad for them, but very good for us. Due to their lack of funds, the family could not afford to change the interior of the building which is why today, it is such a significant historic relic of the early 17th Century.
There is one more thing for which Chastleton is famous. Should you ever play Croquet, you will find yourself using the rules devised for play at Chastleton. When Croquet first appeared as a game in the 1800s, there were no set rules, which caused problems for the aristocracy, as there was no defined way to play the game.
In 1865, however, ‘The Field’ magazine published Walter Whitmore-Jones rules from Chastleton, which became the world-wide standard. Just another example of the long and fascinating history of this most beautiful parts of the country!
Here are a few clips we captured of the exterior of the house https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD8-1sV2o5o
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