THE SITWELL HOME: A RURAL HAVEN OF LITERATURE AND FOOD
WESTON HALL: 1715-1923
Weston was first lived in by an ancestor of the present owners in 1714, when Sir John Blencowe, a leading Northamptonshire man, took a seven year lease for his daughter, Susanna Jennens. She called it “dear Weston” and, seven years after moving there, her father bought it for her as a Valentine’s present – for £999. Thus began a chain of mainly female ownership that has lasted to the present day.
Among its early female owners were Susanna Jennen’s daughter, Mary, who had married a successful trader in the Levant, Arthur Barnardiston. Many of the house’s more exotic contents were acquired by him during his travels – including Chinese lacquer cabinets and 18th century paintings of a Turkish potentate and his entourage by the French artist Jean Baptiste van Moor. Mary enlarged the house in the 1770s, in the Queen Anne style.
The house continued to pass down the female line and was used mainly in the summer. In the early 19th century, it passed to the 21 year old Harriet Wrightson. Wrightson was married twice, first to the Honourable Frederick North Douglas, MP for Banbury and the grandson of Britain’s most denigrated prime minister, Lord North – responsible for the loss of our American colonies.
Frederick died four months into the marriage and she later married Colonel Hely – Hutchinson, a professional soldier who served with Wellington in the Peninsular War and fought with distinction at Waterloo. The Colonel was responsible for improvements to the house, including the conservatory. His diaries record his dancing engagements before Waterloo, and Weston also boasts a collection of love tokens bestowed on him by female admirers.
Wrightson died in 1864 and the Colonel 10 years later, still suffering from his old war wounds. They had five daughters, ensuring the house remained in female hands. The fourth of the Colonel’s daughters, Louisa Lucy, married into the Sitwell family in 1857. However, the house was not occupied by a Sitwell until 1923, when Sacheverell’s grandfather Sir George Sitwell inherited it from a great aunt, Lady Hamner, and who gave him the house as a wedding present.
Weston Hall, in rural Northamptonshire, plays a vital role in both the literary and culinary story of the United Kingdom. A family home of the famous literary Sitwells since 1714, today it plays hosts to food lovers with regular supper clubs featuring some of the country’s greatest chefs, as well as privately catered dinners and cookery courses. With close proximity to the Silverstone circuit the house can be rented in part or whole through Airbnb or private contract, and is also available as a marquee venue for weddings.
The house is also open to the public most weekends by appointment.
Located in a quiet Northamptonshire village, Weston Hall became a haunt for 20th century literary figures as the home of the writer Sir Sacheverell Sitwell, from 1923 until his death in 1988.
The youngest of a trio of literary siblings, ‘Sachie’ was given the house by his father as a wedding present and he lived there with his glamorous Canadian wife, Georgia. At a narrow writing desk overlooking the lawn, he wrote over 130 books of poetry and prose, including acclaimed works on music and baroque architecture.
He also entertained his many literary friends, including Evelyn Waugh, Patrick Leigh Fermor, Cecil Beaton and Noel Coward. Sachie’s sister, the poet Dame Edith Sitwell, was a frequent visitor. Little has changed since the 1930s, the house is full of photos and memorabilia of the Sitwells. There are also mementos of previous owners, including a handsome Colonel who fought at Waterloo who received numerous ‘billet doux’ from his female admirers.
Unusually, the house has mainly passed through female hands – and has a distinctly feminine feel. The current occupant of Weston is the food writer and MasterChef critic William Sitwell. Sachie’s grandson who, with his immediate family, treats visitors to personal tours. Its attractions include an 18th century library, a Victorian orangery, topiary garden and kitchen garden, as well as a coach house complete with restored brougham.
Many visitors combine a tour of the house with a visit to the grave stones of the family, including Sir Sacheverell and Dame Edith Sitwell in the neighbouring village of Weedon Lois.
Set in idyllic countryside it’s a safe and perfect place for a break from the busy world.
While the village has the excellent Crown Inn, serving classic British food, nearby towns Brackley and Towcester offer a variety of bars and restaurants, from tapas and Chinese to Indian food and fish and chips.
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