Discover The Artist, the Gardener and the Queen at Hanbury Hall

Hanbury Hall in early morning sunshine

This year at Hanbury Hall we will be exploring the reign of Queen Anne and its impact on this country retreat in Worcestershire. We will look particularly at the relationship that Queen Anne had with Sarah Churchill and Abigail Masham. This coincides with the release of the award winning film ‘The Favourite’ which will be shown at one of Hanbury’s outdoor cinema events.

Why is this relevant to Hanbury?

Here at Hanbury we have some of the finest examples of Sir James Thornhills work in the form of our wall paintings.

The Thornhill paintings at Hanbury Hall
The Thornhill paintings at Hanbury Hall
The Thornhill paintings at Hanbury Hall

Our wall paintings at Hanbury show the scene of Achilles in the Court of Lycomedes. However, in the 18th century they would have had a second meaning.

If you would have visited Hanbury at the time of its completion then you would have instantly recognised the characters on the staircase walls. You would have seen Sarah Churchill in the foreground (Achilles) and then Queen Anne and Abigail Masham to her right.

Sarah Churchill as Achilles on the Painted Staircase at Hanbury Hall
Close up of a section of the Thornhill wall paintings at Hanbury Hall, showing Achilles as modelled on Sarah Churchill
Sarah Churchill as Achilles on the Painted Staircase at Hanbury Hall

This is all evidence of Thomas Vernons influence in England during this time and also a nod to his Whig beliefs. This is because Sarah Churchill was an avid Whig supporter, supporting a costly war and many other Whig policies.

More evidence of this is the formal gardens at Hanbury, designed by George London. George London was the Royal Gardener under Queen Anne so would have been considered a close friend. Therefore to have him design your formal gardens was quite an honour.

View of Hanbury Hall from the Parterre
View of Hanbury Hall from the Parterre
View of Hanbury Hall from the Parterre

What can you expect to see on your visit?

On your visit to Hanbury you will be able to learn some of the truths behind Queen Anne’s reign as monarch.

  • You can visit a house, dressed for a Queen, and learn about the intimacy of Queen Anne, Sarah Churchill and Abigail Masham’s relationships.
  • You will be able to stroll around the restored George London formal gardens, and discover the detail and beauty of the sunken parterre.
  • You will also be able to explore the 400 acres of parkland that we have at Hanbury Hall. This parkland includes rare features such as the ‘semi-circle'.