On this day… 1836

When reading through the Mistress of Charlecote this particular story made me chuckle. The story of the forgotten biscuits…

In 1836, our Mistress of Charlecote, Mary Elizabeth gave birth to Reginald Aymer and his christening was celebrated on 5th April 1836. Many members of the wider family came to mark the happy occassion.

Within Mary Elizabeth’s memoirs we discover that there was a very elaborate dinner – and it was the very first meal served in the new dining room! The table was adorned with a fine linen cloth with ‘the royal cypher that had once covered the Prince Regent’s table at Carlton House‘. On it was a silver gilt dinner service, gold coasters by Paul Storr and silver candelabra by de Lamerie. Oh and she wore diamonds that her husband, George, had bought especially for the occassion!


Following the christening, Mary Elizabeth shares with us this gem of a story…

Those who had been staying with us for darling Baby’s christening has only just departed when Lord and Lady Shrewsbury with Prince Doria, on their way to London, drove over to spend the day with us… The Prince was in raptures with old Charlecote, and so admired the large Florentine table in the Great Hall, which had originally stood in the Borghese Villa at Rome, and from whence it had been taken by the French in the time of Napoleon.


Detail of top of Pietra dura table in the Great Hall described in the Fonthill sale catalogue of 1823. A superb 16th-century marble slab, formerly in the Borghese Palace.

Detail of top of Pietra dura table in the Great Hall described in the Fonthill sale catalogue of 1823. A superb 16th-century marble slab, formerly in the Borghese Palace. / NTPL

It was bought by my husband at the sale of Fonthill for one thosand eight hundred guineas. (The Prince Borghese had recently married Lord Shrewsbury’s youngest daughter and Price Doria was engaged to Lady Mary Talbot, the eldest.)

(Here’s the bit I like!)

At luncheon the Prince liked the Charlecote biscuits so much that I said laughing, ‘You must carry some away,’ and so I ordered a packet of them to be put in the carriage. Just after they had started I saw the packed of biscuits left behind, so I  took it and ran after the carriage, and I caught them up before they got through the Park gate, and gave it to the Prince. When we went to Rome three years later he said to me he should never forget my running after him with the Charlecote biscuits.

They must have been good biscuits! ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

They must have been good biscuits!
©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Mistress of Charlecote: The Memoirs of Mary Elizabeth Lucy
(Book available for sale from the Servants’ Hall shop)


I imagine it to have been quite a sight, seeing the Mistress running to the gates with the biscuits… although saying that our shop team have often had to run after people who happen to have left things behind in the shop!

Imagine seeing a Victorian Mistress of Charlecote running to the gate!

Imagine seeing a Victorian Mistress of Charlecote running to the gate!



The return of Downton Abbey… and the release of Mouseton Abbey!

We have been eagerly awaiting the return of Downton Abbey ever since the last episode ended! It has become compulsive viewing for us here at Charlecote. We love to watch Mrs Patmore busy in the kitchen, creating culinary masterpieces and wonder if she is perhaps a similar character to our own cook, Mrs Horton.

Downton is such a popular series, we know a lot of our visitors enjoy it so perhaps we’ll all be settling down at the same time this weekend when it returns to our screens!

For our younger friends – and our young at heart – we’ve a new book appearing in our Servants’ Hall Shop which has a familiar appeal…

Mouston Abbey

Mouseton Abbey!

The story of Mouseton Abbey: The Missing Diamond is both gripping and amusing. It is that well known festival of Cheesemas and the Mouseton family have discovered their Great Big Cheesy Diamond is missing!

It really is a sweet book and the characters are all knitted mice with some very entertaining, if a little cheesy, names.  We think our own CheekyCharlies would approve.

You can read some reviews of the book here. And at the moment we’ve a special price too – save £3 on RRP – selling at £7.99.

If Mouseton Abbey isn’t quite your things, we also stock the official companion to all 3 series so far ‘The Chronicles of Downton Abbey : A New Era’. Written by Jessica Fellowes and Matthew Sturgis with a foreword by creator, Julian Fellowes, it is a must have for any fan. The pages are packed with beautiful photographs and character insights. We’ve been known to drool over the fabulous costumes and giggle at the Dowager Countess’ quick quips… I’m sure the forthcoming series will continue to delight us!


Summer draws to an end BUT…

School holidays might be drawing to an end but that doesn’t mean your family fun has to end!

We’ve had an absolute ball this summer with our Cheeky Charlies Children’s Club days. Over 5 weeks we have flew kites, met the bees and the pigs who live at Charlecote, watched falconry displays and dogs herding ducks(!), we’ve made bird feeders, pig masks, nature nets, deer heads and more! Phew! Thank you to all who came along and enjoyed the fun with us. We hope that you have ticked off a good number of your 50 things… and enjoyed the activities.

Set up1But let me tell you a little secret… the fun doesn’t have to stop! We’ve put together some handy sheets with some activities to do at home and we’re also looking forward to seeing you back soon for Hallowe’en trails and our Christmassy activities this winter.

Download the craft sheets here…


And if you need a little help from the #CheekyCharlies watch their videos on YouTube

We’ve also sold a phenomenal number of mice in the shop this summer which means that there are Cheeky Charlies all over Warwickshire – possibly even the world! We would LOVE to see what your Cheeky Charlies have been up to so please send them in or post them to our facebook page.


Charlecote Mill

millOnce you’ve completed the Easter Egg trail at Charlecote Park this bank holiday weekend you might want to take the opportunity to pop in to see our neighbours at Charlecote Mill. They’ll be open for the Bank Holiday!

Charlecote Mill is in the village of Hampton Lucy and overlooks the park. It is an historic and fully operational/commercially run mill. It was mentioned in the Doomsday Book (compiled 1086) to the value of 6s.8d.

“Charlecote is not a museum occasionally grinding flour as many water and windmills now are.  Charlecote is a piece of living working history and one of only a small handful of surviving commercial working watermills in the UK.  Producing traditionally stoneground flours through French Burr Stones every weekday (when the water levels allow), the mill is a constant hive of activity but retains all the atmosphere and charm of a mill run in Victorian times.  Most of the processes we use are as they would have been over 200 years ago and wherever possible grain is still sourced from local farms keeping our food miles to almost zero!  Almost everything is done using the power of the two waterwheels, as it always was, and all of our products are hand finished and hand packed personally by Karl, the Miller.  Mechanisation in a modern sense has never caught on at Charlecote; this truly is a place where time stands still and where quality and tradition blend perfectly to produce the unique Charlecote flours.”  Charlecote Mill

To better understand how the Mill works have a look at these images put together by John Brandrick.

Today it is managed by Karl Grevatt who took on the job in 2012. He regularly delivers flour to us here as we sell it in our shop. You’ll be sure to recognise Karl as he’s the one covered in flour dust!

River at Charlecote Flour Mill
Charlecote Mill will open to visitors on Easter Sunday and Monday from 11am to 5.30pm. More details can be found on their website and as mentioned you can always buy the flour here at Charlecote! Our shop is now open 7 days a week.