The house and collection

Picture Gallery and Knole sofa at Upton House and Gardens

We are delighted to be able to open a large part of the house for visitors to enjoy once more (please check the opening times for the latest). Staff and volunteers will be on hand to advise you of the best route and which areas are open to enjoy.

Upton House and Gardens, the country house and weekend retreat, where 2nd Viscount Bearsted, Walter Samuel, created one of the finest art collections in twentieth-century England.

Immerse yourself in a remarkable range of world-class paintings, from Stubbs and Hogarth to Bosch and El Greco.  See how Lord Bearsted furnished every spare inch with his pictures and eighteenth-century English and French porcelain.  

Outdoors during winter you can take a stroll round the winter walk which includes the hard footpath alongside the Mirror Pool and track through the woodland. The joy of the winter walk lies in the open views into the heart of the garden and to the surrounding countryside. 

" Heavens, the contents! … Some marvellous Chelsea china of the very best quality.  The picture collection superb, as fine as any private collection in England."
- James Lees-Milne, visiting Upton House for the National Trust in 1946
Close view of Chelsea Porcelain figures of Apollo and two of the Muses, c1765
Three ornate detailed porcelain statues with high status Greek clothing
Close view of Chelsea Porcelain figures of Apollo and two of the Muses, c1765
Morning light on the Winter Walk in the snow
January 2021 Winter walk
Morning light on the Winter Walk in the snow

Beauty and pleasure

Upton House and Gardens was the beloved country home of the Jewish philanthropist, collector and Chairman of Shell, Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted, and his family. Remodelled in the 1930s as a weekend retreat, with its modern comforts, gardens and outstanding collections of paintings and porcelain, Upton was about beauty and pleasure.

"[Lord] and Lady B. both charming, with the unassuming manners of the well-bred." - James Lees-Milne
Old Photograph of Lord and Lady Bearsted
"[Lord] and Lady B. both charming, with the unassuming manners of the well-bred." - James Lees-Milne

An elusive, private man but one of great generosity, Lord Bearsted’s concern for people and the world around them is reflected at Upton in his choice of paintings.  Guests of Lord and Lady Bearsted, visiting Upton, were struck by the combination of warmth and charm they encountered in their hosts and which they felt in the house itself. 

The grandfather of satire: 'Morning' by William Hogarth (1697-1764) from his 'Four Times of Day' series
Morning by William Hogarth at Upton House and Gardens
The grandfather of satire: 'Morning' by William Hogarth (1697-1764) from his 'Four Times of Day' series
" Every possible provision shall be made to safeguard the Bearsted collection."
- 2nd Viscount Bearsted, 1948

Changing worlds

By the end of his life the world had changed immensely.  Lord Bearsted wanted the collections and gardens he and Lady Bearsted lovingly created to be kept together for future generations to ‘love, appreciate and respect’, so he gave them and Upton House to the National Trust.

Our world has changed greatly again since 1948. We see Upton and the collections through eyes shaped by new technologies, new fashions and cultures.

 

Come to Upton ready to be curious and open to new stories, and leave planning your next visit.

Please note - Upton houses an important collection of art and porcelain and it isn't possible to have all items on display permanently. To find out if a particular room or work is currently on display, on loan or in storage please contact us before travelling.

In line with the latest government guidance, in England and Wales, face coverings are required in indoor areas, except in cafés and tea-rooms, unless you're exempt.