Coleshill House

In it's prime

A new way of living: the architecturally groundbreaking Coleshill House © Country Life

A new way of living: the architecturally groundbreaking Coleshill House

Small but perfectly formed, Coleshill House was architecturally groundbreaking in its day. Completed in around 1662, its simple and logical layout was new to England.
Its designer, Roger Pratt, went on to become a Royal Commissioner for the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire of 1666. In 1668 he was knighted by Charles II, the first architect to receive such an honour.

 

Glory Days

In its glory days before the fire © Country Life

In its glory days before the fire

Roger Pratt designed the house for his cousin, Sir George Pratt. The design was inspired by fashionable European houses, but he laid out the house to meet the needs of an English country gentleman. The symmetrical plan meant Pratt had to put the main staircase into a central hall. The hall couldn't be used as a dining room, but it made a grand entrance hall for visitors to the house.
 

Grand house, small budget

No expence was spared on the plasterwork at Coleshill House © Country Life

No expence was spared on the plasterwork at Coleshill House

Sir George was not hugely wealthy, so Coleshill House wasn’t as grand as other houses from the time such as Wilton House. But no expense was spared on the plasterwork and carving of the richly ornate ceilings and entrance hall staircase.
For many years, the Pleydell Bouverie family lived in the house. The unexpected destruction of the house came only a few years after it was sold to Ernest Cook at the end of the Second World War.

 

Resistance

In the Second World War, the House had a hidden history. Unknown to villagers, it was requisitioned to become the top secret training headquarters for the British Resistance or Auxiliary Unit.

Destruction

A desperate bid to control the flames

Builders were finishing renovations in 1952, when the tragic fire broke out. Despite the efforts of firemen from three counties, it caused such massive damage that the house had to be demolished.

Remembrance

A canvas by artist Robert Stiby

The 60th anniversary of the loss of Coleshill House was commemorated with a special exhibition by artist Robert Stiby, who witnessed the blaze from his school, 20 miles away.

The gateposts to Coleshill House remain as a reminder of its past © John Miller

The gateposts to Coleshill House remain as a reminder of its past

Garden created in memory

In 1956, the last owner of the house, Ernest Cook died, leaving the Buscot and Coleshill estates to us. Few clues to the glorious house remain, but in 1989, the residents of the Clock House decided to create a memorial to the House. They planted a box hedge garden which marks out the layout of the ground floor. You can visit this on one of our guided walks.

Share