The creators of Berrington Hall

The staircase at Berrington designed by Henry Holland

In the late 1700's a London banker, Thomas Harley, commissioned Lancelot 'Capability' Brown and his son-in-law Henry Holland to create his retirement estate in Herefordshire.

Thomas Harley

Berrington was essentially created by one man, Thomas Harley, who bought the estate in 1775. He made his fortune as a banker and government contractor in London, but had ancestral links with Herefordshire, to which, in his mid-40s, he was keen to retire to and away from the hurly-burly of City politics.

Harley commissioned Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown to lay out the park, which has spectacular views west towards Wales and the Black Mountains. Around 1778 he also called in Brown’s son-in-law, Henry Holland, to design him a new house in the latest French influenced Neo-classical style, using the finest London craftsman.

'Capability' Brown

The most fashionable and iconic landscape designer of the Georgian era; Lancelot 'Capability' Brown was commissioned to create, what was his final landscape design. Brown had worked his magic at around 254 sites prior to Berrington and the skill in his craft can be seen in the mature park today. It seems the park work commenced before Harley's new house was erected and Brown created a typical open sweep of grassy parkland from where the house was to be positioned, over a ha-ha and down to an eye- catching 14 acre lake; built by Brown with a 4 acre island in the centre.

He suggested the position of the house whose severity of the red sandstone exterior, with its gigantic Ionic portico belies the feminine delicacy of the interior, which contains elegant chimney pieces and plasterwork created by the up and coming Henry Holland. 

The lake in winter over the reeds
The lake in winter
The lake in winter over the reeds

Henry Holland

The mansion is arguably the most intact house built by Holland left today and includes the Staircase hall which is his most sophisticated experiment in space, light and colour. The drawing room was Harley’s principal sitting room and contains the finest ceiling. In contrast to the French neo-classicism of the entrance hall it recalls the more delicate style of Robert Adam.

It was to be a comfortable family home, but under Holland’s influence and the impending marriage of Harley’s second daughter to the son of Admiral Lord Rodney; one of the greatest Navel Commanders of the 18th-century, it evolved into the Neo-classical masterpiece you see today.

The grand entrance hall at Berrington
The entrance hall to Berrington
The grand entrance hall at Berrington