On your doorstep: Chastleton House

chastletonAt first glance, Chastleton House, mid-way between Moreton and Chipping Norton, bears a striking resemblance to Shipton Court; both are fine Jacobean buildings, but while the Court is now converted into apartments, Chastleton is little short of a time warp.

Dating from the seventeenth century, Chastleton is an unreconstructed testimony to genteel decay. Built by a lawyer who essentially over-committed his finances, it then passed through successive family members, all of whom found upkeep nigh on impossible, until being taken over by the National Trust in 1991. Inside, the Trust found a property largely unchanged and minimally maintained. It was a fascinating reflection of family life through the centuries, nothing ostentatious or lavish, just a rather fine family house, albeit one that carried the scars of the years.

The decision was taken to conserve it, not restore it. A lifetime of memories are walled up within its rooms – an old chaise longue, gramophone, rocking horse, in fact all the paraphernalia of largely nineteenth and twentieth century life. It has been left mainly as it was found back in 1991, providing a fascinating insight to family life and diminishing fortunes. There is little of value or especial note so the visitor can wander freely through long-abandoned rooms.

Chastleton House is a unique collection of memories and faded glory, one to which any visitor can relate with ease. Closing the door behind, the visitor emerges into a brighter world, leaving behind so many sepia images of better days.

The house reopens on 6th March. Visitors are advised that the path back up to the car park is quite a long slope.

February – March 2019