Cowdray House in Midhurst, West Sussex, was a Tudor nobleman’s grand mansion, built around 1520 and 1542. Henry VIII and Elizabeth I visited and stayed there, no doubt hunting in the local hazel wood forest. The house was a near copy of Hampton Court, although not quite as big. No one was permitted to have a house bigger than the king, although Cowdray did have a bigger Bay Window, much to Henry’s envy!
In 1793 a double tragedy happened. The house caught fire and gutting all the wooden interiors, priceless paintings, furniture and hammerbeam roof. Also, the current owner, the 8th Viscount Monatgue and his intended brother in law drowned in a boating accident in Germany. As a consequence the house was left in a state of ruin as no one knew quite what to do with it.
In time the house became an attraction in its own right, particularly with the Victorians after the railways arrived in Midhurst. It still is, but these days it is run by the Cowdray Heritage Trust and manned by enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteers. It is definitely a Vobes recommended place to visit.