The house and gallery at Mottisfont
Discover an 18th-century building with a medieval priory at its heart. The house at Mottisfont was transformed into a comfortable, neo-classical home and artistic centre in the 1930s. You can continue to enjoy these traditions today by visiting changing art exhibitions in the spacious gallery. The house will be decorated for Christmas until 7 January 2024.
Christmas in the house
A Christmas Journey to the North Pole
25 November - 7 January 2024 (whole property closed 24 and 25 December)
Enter the house to find richly-decorated trees, piles of beautifully-wrapped presents and extravagant floral arrangements created by Mother Christmas herself. Find Father Christmas’s study piled high with letters, and tiptoe past children asleep in decorated bedrooms. Follow their festive dreams to board the ‘Christmas Express’ into the North Pole, arriving just in time to join the glittering, snow-white polar bear’s ball. Experience the wonder of the northern lights over a towering tree sparkling with baubles.
A transformed house
The house has seen a number of transformations over the last 800 years, shaped by its many and varied owners. Now it reflects the life and passions of Mottisfont’s fascinating last owner, society hostess and arts patron Maud Russell.
While much of her furniture and personal possessions are now gone from the house, Mrs Russell's spirit is undeniably present in the look and feel of the house today.
It's a playful house, with lots of secrets to discover.
Highlights of the house
- Two mosaics by Russian artist Boris Anrep: a small panel above the doorway in the Red Room representing the Holy Trinity, and one on the south elevation of the house, which depicts the figure of an angel bearing a very strong resemblance to Mrs Russell.
- A secret panel in the White Bedroom which reveals a hidden part of the old priory building.
- Tucked high in one wall of the Whistler Room is a poignant, secret message from the artist, painted just before he left for active service, where he was killed in the Second World War.
The Whistler Room
Rex Whistler was commissioned to create a unique backdrop for Mottisfont’s glamorous guests in the saloon. The results were his spectacular trompe l’oeil murals, light-heartedly reflecting Mottisfont’s medieval origins.
Despite appearances, there are no columns, ledges or moulded plasterwork in this room, the walls of which are so cunningly painted that they appear to have all these gothic decorations. Take time to look closely at these finely detailed paintings and see what you can spot.
The Derek Hill Collection
Gifted to Mottisfont by the artist Derek Hill, in memory of a long friendship with Maud Russell, this is a permanent display of 20th-century art, including works by L.S. Lowry, Barbara Hepworth and Graham Sutherland. The collection contains some of Hill's own work, including a pencil drawing of Maud Russell, and paintings of Tory Island.
There are also pieces by Modern Movement painters who had inspired him, such as Gwen and Augustus John, Degas, Edwin Landseer, and Georges Seurat. Delve into the permanent Derek Hill collection.
Our gallery is currently closed between exhibitions. Our next exhibition begins in January:
Heath Robinson at War
20 January - 14 April, 11am–4pm (4.30pm from 10 February, last entry 30 minutes before closing)
This touring exhibition contains a wide selection of Heath Robinson’s humorous drawings from both World Wars. You'll also be able to hear transcripts of letters from the troops and the public thanking him for his morale-raising efforts.
Popular among civilians and soldiers alike, Heath Robinson’s war cartoons demonstrate his dry, ironic humour even in the face of national despair.
In each World War, Heath Robinson proved his ability to counter, by the application of gentle satire and absurdity, both the pompous German propaganda and the fear and depression gendered by the horrors of war.
Discover Mottisfont’s eight centuries of history and transformation. From medieval priory to the 18th-century structure, housing Maud Russell’s stylish 20th-century redevelopment.
25 November 2023 - 7 January 2024: follow letters to Father Christmas on a magical journey to the North Pole, from children dreaming in decorated bedrooms to a polar bear’s ball, and experience the wonder of the northern lights.
Enjoy every season at Mottisfont, with its ancient trees and babbling brooks, from rich autumn foliage and the scented Winter Garden, to spring bulbs and, of course, the world-famous Rose Garden.
From activity trails in the garden to playing pooh sticks on the bridge, there's something for every young explorer to do at Mottisfont.
The art and heritage collections we care for rival the world’s greatest museums. Learn more about the collection of paintings, decorative art, costume, books, household and other objects at historic places.
Historic buildings are a treasure trove of stories, art and collections. Learn more about what makes these places so special and plan your visit.