“ Built in the early 16th century for Lord Sandys, Henry VIII's Lord Chamberlain, the house acquired a classical portico in the mid-17th century (the first of its kind in England) and contains a fascinating Tudor chapel with Renaissance glass, a Palladian s „
My parents had decided to pay us a visit and my husband, keen to avoid several hours of small-talk, reached for the National Trust handbook and stated that since we had given them National Trust membership for Christmas we may as well help them make use of it. Flicking to the map pages he decided we'd take them to The Vyne, a 16th century house and estate near Basingstoke.
Getting to The Vyne was easy by car as it was well-signposted from the main road. However, it was in a slightly rural location so I think reaching it by pubic transport may have been problematic. Away from the main road we swung into a field that doubled as the overflow carpark and also the picnic area. There were some new-looking wooden picnic tables scattered around and several families enjoying lunch on blankets, with an assortment of children of different ages playing with balls, kites and skittles. With the sun shining brightly it all seemed rather idyllic. After parking by a hedge we had around a 500m walk to the 'ticket office' (a shed-like building) and after showing our membership cards we were in. If we had not been members, it would have cost £9 per adult, £4.50 per child or £22 for a family.
You approach the house from the side, and enter via a side entrance, which I found slightly disorientating. Slippers were available for those sporting unsuitable footwear (i.e. muddy shoes or stiletto heels) and laminated information sheets were handed out by an engaging and friendly volunteer. Free quizzes for children were also offered. You were then free to wander through a series of rooms that were open to the public at your own pace, with a guide in each room to answer any questions you might have. This was useful as the information sheets only gave a line or two about each room, and unlike other NT properties I've visited there were not cards offering more information to be read in individual rooms. I'd describe the style of the house as smart late 18th/early 19th century in its décor, but I'm no expert and so may be wrong. All the rooms appeared as they could be 'lived in' and you were treated to a range of the formal rooms, ranging from a dining room to library to oak-paneled 'long gallery' for ladies to exercise in during wet weather. No parts of the 'below stairs' aspect of the house were accessible, which I was a little disappointed by as I like being able to see grand homes from the servants viewpoint too. I found the main entrance hall (which, having entered from the side, you meet about halfway through the rooms) particularly grand and enthralling.
The gardens at The Vyne were not very impressive - basically they were just lawns, plus some woodland walks if you wanted a longer stroll. I would not recommend visiting it if it is gardens you are interested in.
Restaurant, Gift Shop, Toilets
We had a very tasty lunch from the restaurant - generous portions of home made goats cheese and watercress tart with vegetables, fairly reasonably priced at £6.25 and served by a cheerful staff. There were also 2 other main course options and a good selection of sandwiches and cakes.
The gift shop was very typical, selling a variety of NT products and a few toys and books. It wasn't very big and probably bordered on being expensive.
The toilets were clean and... well, toilets really.
Not the most beautiful or interesting of the NT properties I have visited and I'm not sure it would be worth the admission price if you were paying, but if you're already a member it is a pleasant enough location to spend a couple of hours looking around.
I am very fortunate to live within a stones throw of this magnificent old manor house. The Vyne, at Sherborne St John near Basingstoke is a beautiful old Elizabethan manor house steeped in history. It was built in the early part of the 16th century for Henry V111's Lord Chamberlain, Lord Sandys. Much has happened to it since then, and it is now in the possession of the National Trust. The house passed through several generations of the Sandys family. One of the most notable was William Sandys who was a friend of Elizabeth the First. It was whilst staying at the Vyne that she ordered the arrest and subsequent execution of her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots.Lovely! During the English civil war Cromwell's parliamentary troops were stationed at the Vyne. Following the civil war, the Sandys family were forced to sell the Vyne due to financial problems, and they moved to Mottifont Abbey (also worth visiting) which was a gift from Henry v111 to the first Lord Sandys. It was purchased in 1653 by Chaloner Chute. Chute was a barrister of some success at the middle Temple. The house then passed through several generations of the Chute family. Edward Chute collected the Queen Anne furniture and the Soho tapestries which can be seen displayed today. In 1754 the house passed to John Chute who renovated the hall and magnificent staircase. The Chute family retained the estate until 1956 when Charles Chute bequeathed it to the National Trust. It is difficult not to imagine all that history whilst wandering around! The house is set in beautiful grounds. To the rear of the house is a large lake with many varieties of waterfowl. As with most National Trust properties there are designated walks. The Vyne has three of varying lengths. One is designed for walking with a buggy or wheelchair, so Granny and Junior do not have to be left out! In recent years the Vyne has undergone extensive restoration to res
tore it to its former glory. The helpful NT guides are very happy to tell you all about it. The walled kitchen gardens were restored recently and there is a beautiful rose garden. Even if you don't go into the house the Vyne is a wonderful,peaceful place just to go for an afternoon amble.I like to sit and read by the lake,it is very therapeutic. In the house there is much to see. Each room is done out as it would have been at various times during the life of the house. The music room is fascinating, with the old music still there on display. The Vyne houses a magnificent collection of paintings and tapestries. There is an educational trail for children, which mine enjoyed when they were younger. When you have walked round you should really visit the tea room! All NT tea rooms are super and this is no exception. They specialise in traditional fare of the times. It was here that my children first ate flowers. It must be said that my youngest was fairly scathing about the whole flower eating thing! The rest of us enjoyed it. They put on a magnificent lunch and in the afternoon there are cakes to die for! The prices aren't too bad either, for quality home made food. You can also go to special events at the Vyne. They specialise in open air concerts, fireworks. outdoor plays and nature rambles, some specially for children. It can also be booked for functions and weddings. Admission prices are: 5.00 for adults and 13.75 for a family ticket. NT members are free of course.Gracious, I have had my moneys worth out of my NT membership! There is ,of course, the ubiquitous NT shop to browse in, if you can afford it.This one also sells flowers and plants which they have raised themselves. These are usually a good buy, The Vyne is in-between the villages of Sherborne St John and Bramley. It is 4 miles north of Basingstoke,in Hampshire. There is diasbled access to the grounds and you can borrow a whe
elchair if you need to.There are also baby changing facilities, so they really have catered for everybody. The opening hours fluctuate a bit, so you should phone to check, on 01256 881337. They can also send you out a programme ot their special events for the season. I particularly like the open air Shakespeare, it's very good indeed. If you want to go by public transport, take the 45 bus from Basingstoke train station. So, if you are in the area why not pop along and have a look? It is well worth it.