Montacute House is a wonderful Elizabethan house, set in the beautiful Somerset countryside. Built by Sir Edward Phelips as his place in the country, it was completed in 1601, just before the end of the Elizabethan age. With many glass windows, statues and carvings, it told everyone of his wealth and status- a long way from his more humble upbringing.
The house is full of wonderful portraits and furniture and boasts the longest 'of its kind' Long Gallery in England. The room guides are very helpful and knowledgeable- obviously very proud of the house and only too willing to share their passion with visitors!
When we visited, we took a guided walk around the outside of the house. Although it was bitterly cold, our guide was fascinating and told us about some of the research that has been done about the house and its history, the evidence that they have and the conclusions they have reached. She is involved in the educational side of the work done there and, if the tour was anything to go by, the standard offered must be very high!
The gardens surrounding the house are wonderful, offering plenty of space for children to run and play as well as more formal areas to enjoy. You can find out more about Montacute House and the educational visits they offer on the National Trust's website.
Showing how inspiring places like this can be, in 2010, Montacute House became the setting for Lucy Jago's novel of that name.
Her main character, Cess, works in the chicken coops at Montacute House. Illegitimate and considered strange by others, she is an outcast in the village and things get worse for her on her thirteenth birthday when a death and a disappearance find her accused of bewitching her only friend. Determined to find her friend and prove the villagers wrong, Cess soon finds herself caught up in a plot which will change her life forever.
'Montacute House' is a gripping story full of historical details and action. Perfect for older children, it offers a glimpse of 'real' life in Elizabethan times-that experienced by the everyday people, set against the backdrop of this beautiful building.
Montacute House by Lucy Jago
Bloomsbury ISBN: 978-1408803769