'A haven of peace and quietness for those in need'
From a Tudor show house to 20th century family home, Greys Court has only been inhabited by five families in its long history. The mansion today is a patchwork of styles that hint at the various fortunes and tastes of the occupants.
House steward's highlights
This portrait of Greys Court on a summer afternoon in 1959 was painted by Lady Brunner’s brother, Laurence Irving. He has painted himself lower left at his easel. In the foreground are Lady Brunner and Sir Felix gathering flowers – Lady Brunner was very fond of fresh flower arrangements throughout the house, a tradition we continue today. The four Brunner boys are depicted playing football and cricket in the background. The work is idealised as the boys would have been far older by this date. Charles Taylor, the head gardener, mows the lawn in the foreground and other members of the Brunner’s staff also populate the painting, demonstrating the close sense of community between staff and household.
The Brunner family were of Swiss ancestry, and so a lot of the furniture that you see on your visit around the house is originally from Switzerland. This sixteenth century Swiss table would probably have been used as a games or card table. Players would have chalked their scores onto the slate slab in the centre; it would likely also have been used with equal convenience for children’s lessons or drawings. The piece was made for a namesake of Sir Felix’s, the inscription around the edge reading “Felix Brunner had me made in the year 1584 and in this house I must stay”.
Stained glass panel
This beautiful stained glass panel (1537) is one of five on show at the top of the main staircase. They are all originally from Switzerland and would likely have been collected by Sir John Brunner, 1st Baronet, on one of his frequent trips to the country. Called Wappenscheib, such panels were very popular throughout Switzerland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and were often given as gifts to commemorate a marriage or the completion of a public building. Look out for the depiction of the stone fountain – the Brunner family crest – and the unusual baking scene in the top right-hand corner.