Things to see and do

Ornate plaster ceiling with the date 1684 in the centre

As you enter Owletts, you get the sense that Sir Herbert Baker's house is a much loved family home, not a museum.

House

There is a sentimentality about the house, not just because its been, and still is, lived in by the Baker family, but because of the memories that are all around.

" The floorboards creak just the way I remember them, and even the door handles have the same quirks."
- Camilla Baker

Living Room

Sir Herbert Baker's connection to the British Empire is very much in evidence in this room,  with his watercolour 'blog' and the fascinating empire clock, one of only five commissioned.

Dining Room

When you look at the finnials on the chairs in the dining room, it's clear that Sir Herbert Baker had a sense of humour as each finial was designed as a 'caricature' of the different family members. Alfred, who was always naughty is depicted as a little monkey, whilst Ann is shown with a bible as well as her tongue out to show she was naughty and nice.

First floor ceiling

The plaster ceiling on the first floor has the date 1684 in the centre, along with the initials of the original owners. The ornate ceiling depicts scrolls, leaves, flowers and fruit.

Can you imagine cleaning the ceiling? With all the intricate details, it's a painstakingly slow process and when our conservation team last cleaned the ceiling, it took them over a week to complete!

 

Garden

The lawns are highlighted by some signature trees, such as the Cedar of Lebanon that Sir Herbert planted on Christmas Day, the winter before he died. His son, Henry, planted a walnut tree in the 1990s.

There is a grass tennis court, and if you explore beyond into the 'Filbert Platt' you'll find apple and cobnut trees, a wishing tree for hanging ribbons on, a willow dome planted in 2013, and a swing large enough for adults to enjoy.

Although the large kitchen garden is currently closed to restore the planting, you can discover the Gertrude Jekyll border and the sunken herb garden. You can also have a look to see what wildlife is living in the pond.

Garden buildings

The walled garden gained its south facing wall in 1811, as part of a rehabilitation project for returning soldiers. As you wander round the garden, you'll see a number of garden buildings, including a greenhouse, potting shed and the remains of a hot house in which the previous ladies of the house grew ferns and exotics.

The structure of the hot house is now uncovered, but you can see where the pipes fed through to the boiler. A very old grape vine still grows, which a family legend states originated from a vine at Hampton Court.

Nearer the house, the old apple sheds and workshop have been re-opened as a self service tea room run by the tenants.

Grounds

Bring along a blanket and picnic on the lawns, or enjoy the sunshine as you wander round the herb garden. Watch the sheep munching in the fields, meet the free range chickens or have a go at croquet on the grass tennis court. Whatever you choose to do, the whole family can enjoy a fun day out exploring the great outdoors.