The family of Coughton Court: now and then

Mrs Clare McLaren Throckmorton (1935  present day) © National Trust

Mrs Clare McLaren Throckmorton (1935 present day)

Coughton Court provides a spectacular setting to discover the Throckmorton family’s journey from danger to triumph.

Sir John Throckmorton

When the manor of Coughton came to Sir John Throckmorton in 1409 the stage was set for an incredible story of power and prestige, treason and tyranny spanning six hundred years.

Some of Sir John’s descendants, including George Throckmorton and his sons Robert and Nicholas, gained their standing at the side of kings and queens. Others earned a more notorious reputation, conspiring to undermine the monarchy and, of course, being punished accordingly.

Sir Robert Throckmorton

The turmoil is due to the family’s unwavering Catholic faith, beliefs which condemned Throckmortons and their descendants to punishment and even death in the unstable years of the 1500s.

The family’s resilience was eventually rewarded however and in 1834 Sir Robert, the eighth Throckmorton Baronet, became the first Catholic MP to take a seat in Parliament since the Reformation.

This event marked a turning point in the family’s story. Now free to worship openly and stand up for their political and social place, they could travel more easily, attend Catholic schools, vote and, fatefully, join the army.

Lieutenant-Colonel Courtenay Throckmorton

When Lieutenant-Colonel Courtenay Throckmorton was killed in action in 1916, the heir to Coughton Court was lost. Lady Lilian, Courtenay’s widow, used her own money to maintain the estate but this was not enough as death duties, post-war taxes and the economic depression escalated.

Lady Lilian

Lady Lilian handed Coughton over to the National Trust in 1946. The family were granted a 300-year lease, the longest lease ever granted in the history of the National Trust. Lady Lilian continued to manage and live at Coughton Court right up until her death in 1955.

Mrs Clare McLaren Throckmorton

During the 1990s until 2006, Coughton Court was managed by Mrs Clare McLaren Throckmorton, Lady Lilian’s granddaughter. ‘Mrs T’, as she is affectionately known, did much to restore the interiors and fortunes of the house. Together with her daughter, Christina Williams, she created the magnificent gardens you can see today including the award-winning Walled Garden.

The National Trust

In 2006 the National Trust began a 15-year management agreement to continue opening the house to visitors. The family continue to live in the North Wing and to manage the gardens. Last year, together, we welcomed over 80,000 visitors to Coughton Court.

The family’s exceptional resolve throughout six turbulent centuries has written for us an extraordinary story of danger and triumph.