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The house at Greys Court

Exterior view of Greys Court, Oxfordshire
Exterior view of Greys Court, Oxfordshire | © National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Discover Greys Court, an intimate family home set in the rolling hills of the Chilterns. From a Tudor show house to 20th-century family home, the mansion today is a patchwork of styles that hint at the various fortunes and tastes of the occupants. It exudes a welcoming atmosphere with a well-stocked kitchen and homely living rooms. Look out for some of these features on your next visit.

Stained glass panels

Inside the house there's a plain pine staircase, at the top of which is a window containing five panels of 16th and 17th-century stained glass. They are all originally from Switzerland and would likely have been collected by Sir John Brunner, 1st Baronet, on one of his frequent trips to the country.

Called Wappenscheib, such panels were very popular throughout Switzerland in the 16th and 17th centuries and were often given as gifts to commemorate a marriage or the completion of a public building. See if you can spot the depiction of the stone fountain, the Brunner family crest, and the unusual baking scene in the top right-hand corner.

Close view of the upper part of one of five panels of sixteenth and seventeenth century Swiss stained glass on the Landing at Greys Court, Oxfordshire
One of five panels of sixteenth and seventeenth century Swiss stained glass on the Landing at Greys Court, Oxfordshire | © National Trust Images/John Hammond

Swiss card table

The Brunner family were of Swiss ancestry, and so a lot of the furniture that you see in the house is originally from Switzerland. The 16th-century Swiss table in the entrance hall would probably have been used as a games or card table.

Players would have chalked their scores onto the slate slab in the centre; it would likely also have been used with equal convenience for children’s lessons or drawings. Look closely for the inscription ‘Felix Brunner had me made in the year 1584 and in this house I must stay’.

A family portrait

Look out for a portrait of Greys Court, on a summer afternoon in 1959, which was painted by Lady Brunner’s brother, Laurence Irving.

Charles Taylor, the head gardener at the time, mows the lawn in the foreground and other members of the Brunner’s staff also appear in the painting, demonstrating the close sense of community between staff and household.


The interiors contain very fine 18th-century plasterwork, perhaps by Roberts of Oxford. The ceiling plasterwork in the drawing room is a very fine example of Rococo naturalism. The imagery of courting doves and bows and arrows all suggests the theme of love, and so may have been commissioned to celebrate Sir Thomas Stapleton’s marriage to Mary Fane in 1765.

The Drawing Room

An elegant classical drawing room was added in c.1750 by the Stapleton family, who owned Greys Court from 1724 until 1935. Sir Thomas Stapleton raised the ceiling from its Elizabethan height and added the bow window to create this airy and welcoming room, with superb views over the top lawn.

The Drawing Room at Greys Court, Oxfordshire
The Drawing Room at Greys Court, Oxfordshire | © National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Dining Room

The Dining Room on the left of the entrance hall retains its 16th-century proportions, with the original ceiling height. The Brunners used this room for more formal entertaining, but even this was not very formal, with meals taken at a simple, circular table and Windsor chairs. A jib door to the left of the fireplace connects conveniently with the kitchen. Recently, signatures have been found on the wooden doors used as panelling between the two rooms, which suggests the panelling once belonged to an Oxford College.

The Kitchen

This room is both the historic core of the house and the heart of the Brunner’s home. Many of the exposed joints and posts survive from the 1450s timber-framed west range, which was buried within later rebuilding. The door to the larder still has its ancient metal lock. Evelyn Fleming put up the old wooden panelling on the walls, which were discovered in the attic. If you look closely, you’ll be able to spot key holes in a couple of the panels, which reveals their original use as doors.

The history in this room has a wonderful juxtaposition with the 1970’s John Lewis tiles and pink kitchen table added by the Brunners, creating a homely atmosphere.

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