History

Killerton's exterior wasn't always the vivid salmon pink you see today © Killerton

Killerton's exterior wasn't always the vivid salmon pink you see today

Discover a land and its people

Killerton is a warm, welcoming family home built in 1778 on the site of an older Elizabethan house.

When you explore the house and grounds today you will find many traces of the Acland family, who owned the land and built the house. You will also experience the vivid stamp that John Veitch, the first head gardener, left on the landscape of this 3,000 acre estate.

On a visit here you can see family photographs of life at Killerton dating from the 19th century, the country-house organ that is still played today, and the wealth of history captured by the costume collection. Venture further and you can discover the design legacy of John Veitch and his fellow gardeners in the gardens and parkland.

Plans for Killerton

Portrait of Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 7th Baronet, of Killerton House © John Hammond

Portrait of Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 7th Baronet, of Killerton House

The Acland family settled in south Devon in the late 16th century. By the mid-18th century the family had grown in wealth and rank; the 7th Bt, Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, wanted Killerton to be a visible mark of his status.

Designing the house

The front entrance to Killerton designed by John Johnson in 1778 © NTPL

The front entrance to Killerton designed by John Johnson in 1778

John Johnson was the architect hired by Sir Thomas to build a temporary home for the Aclands at Killerton. Johnson’s temporary house became the family home when plans for a grander house near its location were abandoned.

Laying out a park

Trees on Dolbury Hill in the garden at Killerton House, Devon © Malcolm Jarvis

Trees on Dolbury Hill in the garden at Killerton House, Devon

Sir Thomas wished to have gardens and parkland fit for his new family seat at Killerton. He took on Scottish gardener John Veitch to make his dreams come true. Veitch started planting in 1770, before the house was even designed, so that the setting would be fit for the Acland’s new home.

The house today

The entrance hall as it was rebuilt after the devastating fire of 1924 © Acland family

The entrance hall as it was rebuilt after the devastating fire of 1924

Killerton has been a family home for many, many years, and different generations have all put their own mark on the house. Explore this welcoming family home as it stands today.

Killerton families

  • The Acland family

    Discover the origins of the Acland family in the time of the Normans.

  • A gardening dynasty

    The 18th-century park was laid out by John Veitch. His family continued to work on Killerton's la...

Women of Killerton

Harriet Fox-Strangways

 © F Boucher

Harriet, born Lady Christian Henrietta Caroline Fox-Strangways, married John, the eldest son of Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 7th Bt. As his wife she followed him to his army posting in America, where she had many of her own adventures.

Lydia Hoare

See Lydia in her younger years in this beautiful portrait © John Hammond

Lydia Hoare married Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 10th Bt, known as the ‘Great Sir Thomas’. It was under this couple that Killerton entered its ‘golden age’. Lydia was certainly more than just the mother of 10 children.

Gertrude Walrond

See Lydia in her younger years in this beautiful portrait © F Boucher

Gertrude was a good match for the 12th Bt, Sir Charles, both finding a natural home in the grandeur of Edwardian England. Much of Gertrude’s personality is still stamped upon Killerton and its grounds.

Glorious costumes

Discover the history of Killerton's marvellous costume collection, on show on the upper floor. Follow its journey from its inception to its arrival and display at Killerton.

Behind the scenes

Killerton's working Victorian laundry gives a glimpse of the staff who worked behind the scenes. It was active until 1940, employing three full-time female staff and a number of part-time staff.

Memories of Killerton

Killerton has had a varied history in the 20th century, home not only to the Acland family but also to school children and college students. Discover memories from those who lived here.

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