UNLIMITED ACCESS TO OVER 400 HISTORIC PLACES
Live and breathe the story of England at royal castles, historic gardens, forts & defences, world-famous prehistoric sites and many others.
We have changed the opening arrangements of our sites to play our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Witley Court is currently closed and any tickets pre-booked for the closed period will be cancelled and refunds automatically made as needed, so there is no need to contact us. We are keeping a selection of sites open for local people to use for exercise during the lockdown period. These are a mixture of free-to-enter and paid sites, and all have plenty of outdoor space for safe social distancing. Visits to paid sites must be booked in advance. We hope to be able to reopen many more of our sites in the near future, and we are currently taking advanced bookings for early spring and beyond. If we are unable to open a site by the time of your booked visit, your ticket will be automatically refunded without you needing to contact us. Thank you for your understanding, patience and support during this difficult time.
A manor at Witley is owned by Urso d'Abetot, a cousin of William the Conqueror.
The medieval house is rebuilt on a grander scale by the Russell family.
Find out more about Witley Court's history
Thomas Foley, whose family fortunes come from the iron industry, buys Witley.
The 1st Baron Foley enlarges the house, to reflect his enhanced social status and his family’s transition from industrial wealth to landed aristocracy.
Thomas Foley VII hires the architect John Nash to design ambitious alterations, including massive new stone porticos and a rebuilt east wing.
The Witley estate is sold for £900,000 (about £48 million today) to the trustees of 16-year-old William, Lord Ward, heir to vast industrial riches.
Witley is let to Queen Adelaide, widow of William IV. She is popular locally and pays for the building of the first village school.
Lord Ward moves in, and begins a major transformation of Witley Court to designs by architect Samuel Daukes and garden designer William Andrews Nesfield. Ward is made 1st Earl of Dudley in 1860.
Under the 2nd Earl of Dudley life at Witley reachs a height of opulence, with his friend the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) a regular visitor at lavish parties.
After his first wife’s death, the 2nd Earl, beset with mounting debts, sells the Witley estate to the carpet manufacturer Sir Herbert Smith.
Witley’s role as a rich man’s house ends abruptly when a devastating fire destroys much of the house. It is never lived in again.
An antique dealer buys the house, stripping it of anything of value that remains.
The house is scheduled as an Ancient Monument, and restoration work begins, continued since 1984 by English Heritage.
Learn more about Witley Court