New perspectives on a world-class art collection

Picture Gallery and Knole sofa at Upton House and Gardens

Discover Upton House and Gardens, the country house high on the Warwickshire hill, 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 you can stroll through Lady Bearsted’s gardens, designed by the pioneering Kitty Lloyd Jones, and find your own sense of leisure, peace and beauty that we continue to nurture.

" 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
Encounter finest Chelsea porcelain such as Apollo and his nine Muses c.1765
Chelsea figures at Upton House and Gardens
Encounter finest Chelsea porcelain such as Apollo and his nine Muses c.1765
Stroll the stunning gardens landscaped by Lady Bearsted's pioneering garden designer, Kitty Lloyd-Jones
Visitors enjoying summer day at Upton
Stroll the stunning gardens landscaped by Lady Bearsted's pioneering garden designer, Kitty Lloyd-Jones

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.

New perspectives

Over the next five years we will be drawing upon the spirit of Upton’s playful past to offer new perspectives on Upton’s collections of paintings, porcelain and garden plants.  2020 marks an exciting start, collaborating with guest curators to present new styles of interpretation.  Jenny Lister, Curator of Fashion and Textiles at the V&A in London, and comedian, Marlon Davis, will each be writing their own set of labels for a selection of Upton’s paintings. 

‘Fashion in Paintings’ runs until 23 July, and ‘Marlon Davis’ runs from 25 July until 27 November 2020.

For the first time too, from May visitors will see one of the rarest and most accomplished figures created by the Chelsea porcelain factory, The Music Lesson, with its own specially curated display.  We invite visitors’ feedback from these and other future trials, which will inform the direction of our interpretation in the years ahead.

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