Hanbury Hall and the church of St. Mary the Virgin

Grid Ref: SO 945 637
11 June 2005

Hanbury Hall   Knot Garden
Hanbury Hall       Knot Garden
Knot Garden   Outdoor map
Knot Garden   Map showing the Cotswolds, Bredon Hill and the Malverns
St. Mary the Virgin   Memorial to Richard Vernon
St. Mary the Virgin, Hanbury   Memorial to Richard Vernon, died 1627 aged 77
North Arcade   Bowater Vernon
The North Arcade   Monument to Bowater Vernon (1683-1735)

Hanbury Hall lies just 5 miles from Junction 5 on the M5. Just follow the A38 south to Droitwich and then the National Trust signs. It is an ideal stop on a long motorway journey; we stopped for two hours and ended up staying for four. In addition to the hall itself there are the gardens and walks across the park.  If you are feeling a little more energetic you can extend the park walk to the parish church on the hill with excellent views south towards the Cotswolds, Bredon Hill and the Malverns. There are some benches there and a map installed to celebrate the millennium. At the hall there is a National Trust tea room that serves lunches and the customary shop.

Hanbury Hall

The Hall was built in 1701 for Thomas Vernon. This branch of the Vernon family is distantly related to the Vernons of Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire, also a National Trust property. The first Vernon to own the site was Edward, who bought Hanbury in 1631. His grandson, Thomas Vernon (1654-1721) inherited the property in 1679 and began to rebuild the old manor house. Thomas was a lawyer and worked in the Court of Chancery for 40 years, earning £112,000.  He became MP for Worcester in 1715. It is thought that the architect for Hanbury Hall was William Rudhall of Henley-in-Arden. Among the most important features of the house are the wall and ceiling painings on Classical themes by Sir James Thornhill, who was responsible for similar works on a larger scale at Chatsworth in Derbyshire. The house houses the Watney collection of fine porcelain and Dutch flower paintings

The last male heir was Sir George Vernon, who left Hanbury Hall to the National Trust in 1940. Some furnishings and pictures had been removed to Shawley Wood House, which was occupied by Sir George's adopted daughter and her husband but they donated the family portraits and some of the furniture back to Hanbury. However, the hall gives every appearance of being fully furnished and there are are about a dozen rooms open to visitors.

The gardens include the knot garden shown in my photograph together with an orangery, fruit garden, orchard, cedar walk and an ice house. The Long Gallery is detached from the house and is entered from the garden. There are no longer deer in the park and many mature trees, some 300 years old.  The Hanbury Walk is about 1.5 miles around the 395 acre park with views towards the Malvern Hills. There are also public footpaths across the park and one leads to the church, which is just outside the park boundary. From the park one can see the long wave radio transmitter masts at Droitwich. The station not only transmit BBC Radio 4 but also act as a frequency standard at 198 kHz. Broadcasting from Droitwich began in 1924.

Linda Hansen has contacted me with details of Mary Gummry, who was a servant at Hanbury Hall.  Linda became aware of Mary through a rosewood box which was brought to her attention by an antique dealer.  Inside it bears the inscription "Mary Gummry her box, October 11 1840".  An account of Linda's research is shown on her Gummry page.

St. Mary the Virgin, Hanbury

As my photograph shows, the church was built in several styles over the centuries. The site at the top of a hill may have been a fort in Roman times or earlier but it is known that there was a Saxon monastery from a charter of AD 836, now preserved at the British Museum. This was a grant from Wiglaf, King of Mercia. There is a small amount of Norman work remaining in the church and the south arcade, shown in the photograph, dates from 1210. The pillars here are cylindrical whereas those in the north arcade are octagonal. In the 18th century the spirelet known as the Hanbury Haycock was rmoved and the current tower was built with the inclusion of circular windows typical of that period. Box pews made of oak were installed in 1792. Entrance to the church is now through the west door under the tower and there is a gallery at the west end of the nave. The church has a number of monuments to the Vernon family. The one to Richard Vernon, shown in my photograph, is high up in the sanctuary. He was vicar of Hanbury in 1580 and the father of Edward Vernon, who purchased Hanbury. The monuments shown lower right, in the Vernon aisle to the south of the chancel is to Bowater Vernon. He succeeded his uncle, Thomas Vernon, who built the hall. He died in 1735. Of more modern interest are the artists models of the Nativity and the Resurrection made by Walter Gilbert for his creation of the reredos in Liverpool Cathedral. These are on the north wall. of the north aisle.


Hanbury Hall, a National Trust booklet of 48 pages with colour and black and white photographs, by Jeffrey Haworth and Gervase Jackson-Stops, 1994.
A Brief History of Hanbury Parish Church, Worcs, pamphlet available in the church for 10 pence.


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