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The house at Hinton Ampner

The fireplace in the Entrance Hall, with red armchairs and oil paintings
The inviting fireplace in the Entrance Hall | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Hinton Ampner is a lavish passion project largely created by the last owner, Ralph Dutton, when he rebuilt the house after a devastating fire. Discover a rich tapestry of interiors as you wander through the rooms in this house that showcases his visions of a rural idyll, a fine country house and comfortable Georgian living.

The Entrance Hall

The entrance hall sits in the front half of the earlier 18th-century house. Later alterations were removed and salvaged architectural features incorporated. For example, the porphyry chimneypiece came from Hamilton Palace in Lanarkshire, which was demolished in the 1920s. The black and white marble floor replaced the old wooden one destroyed during the 1960 fire and the scagliola (plaster imitating marble or stone) columns were added.

Most of the paintings at Hinton Ampner were purchased after the fire, including the painting over the fireplace of Selene, goddess of the moon, visiting the sleeping Endymion, which is the work of Venetian artist Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini.

The Drawing Room

The yellow and blue colour scheme was chosen by the designer Ronald Fleming, who chose it to match the French Savonnerie carpets. The door-cases and marble chimneypieces were salvaged from Ashburnham Place in Sussex. The garden and house were conceived by the owner Ralph Dutton as a whole with some of the most carefully planned views of the garden and park designed to be seen from the Drawing Room.

The Library

The blaze in 1960 destroyed this room, including the chimneypiece, and the remains of the books ‘had become almost petrified as if engulfed by a volcanic eruption’. The library you see today was rebuilt much as it was before, with a replacement chimneypiece sourced from Paris. It is said to have been made for Marie Antoinette’s palace, the château of Saint-Cloud, with Napoleon’s ‘N’ monogram added, although this is unlikely to be true.

The Library at Hinton Ampner, Hampshire, with pale green walls and furniture, bookcases and a pink patterned carpet
Bookshelves line the walls in the Library at Hinton Ampner, Hampshire | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

The Sitting Room

This room served as the study. It was an addition to the house when it was remodelled in 1935, standing on the site of the Victorian dining room. Many of the items in this room were saved from the fire by brave firemen passing the contents out through the windows. These include the 18th-century chimneypiece, designed by the architect Robert Adam, having been saved from Adelphi Terrace, London, before demolition in 1937, also two roundel-paintings either side of the door by the Swiss artist Henry Fuseli depicting scenes from Shakespeare’s plays.

The Dining Room

The spectacular Adam ceiling in the Dining Room was installed in 1939 after it was rescued from a house being demolished in Berkeley Square. Only half of this ceiling was destroyed in the fire of 1960, and it was painstakingly restored and recoloured, using Adam’s original designs, which are held in the Soane Museum. Sadly, all the paper roundels, thought to be by Angelica Kaufmann, were damaged beyond repair so the Irish artist Elizabeth Biddulph was commissioned to create replacements.

The giltwood pier-glass (or mirror) is another Robert Adam design. Dating from 1773, it is one of a pair, the other can be found in Basildon Park. The mahogany sideboard in the alcove was something of a bargain, picked up for just £8.

The Dining Room at Hinton Ampner, Hampshire, with 10 chairs around the table, in a pale green room with an intricately moulded ceiling
The Dining Room at Hinton Ampner, Hampshire, with 10 places | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

First floor open on select days only

We open the first first floor on select days only, these are an additional opening to the main house.

First floor

The original floors were destroyed in the 1960 fire, so the height of the ‘extremely ill-placed’ windows were adjusted and the bedroom floors lowered. The Bow Landing at the top of the stairs, and the corridor to Ralph’s private suite, display some of the best of his collection of British and European ceramics.

Ralph Dutton's Bedroom and bathroom

According to a 1947 article in Country Life, Ralph’s bedroom was ‘rather sparse but [with] choice furnishing’. It occupies the west side of the South Front and the big bay window gives some of the best views over the garden and out across the valley to the South Downs way. Ralph grew up without a bathroom at Hinton Ampner so made sure he had one of his own when the house was remodelled. The black bathroom panels are 1930s in style complemented by a semi-sunken bath top-lit by a round skylight.

Red Bedroom, Yellow Bedroom and Bow Bedroom

Ralph Dutton enjoyed entertaining his friends at Hinton and these sumptuous rooms were all used as guest suites, furnished with Floris soaps and bottles of eau de cologne. Any weekend might see a gathering of figures from the worlds of literature and the arts including Francis Watson, director of the Wallace Collection (Ralph was a trustee), the novelist L.P. Hartley, the biographer James Pope-Hennessy, and Jane Abdy, wife of the art-collector Sir Robert Abdy, who brought her cats with her.

The south front at Hinton Ampner, Hampshire

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