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History of Hanbury Hall

A painting by John Wootton from 1734 showing Bowater Vernon (1683-1735) in the foreground with a gun and his dogs, in the background is Hanbury Hall surrounded by formal gardens and avenues of trees.
Bowater Vernon (1683-1735) with Hanbury Hall and its formal garden, by John Wootton, 1734 | © National Trust Images/John Hammond

From the Norman Conquest onwards, the Hanbury Estate was within the boundaries of the Royal Forest of Feckenham. When Feckenham’s royal status was lost in 1629, local families bought up land to increase their own estates – including the Vernon family, who began building the hall in 1701. As the estate passed down through the family, the hall and garden evolved with changing fashions, and now present an impressive 18th-century country retreat.

The Vernon family home

From their beginnings as the Elizabethan rectors of Hanbury parish, the Vernons became one of the most prominent families in Worcestershire.

The Vernon genes brought forth the famous lawyer Thomas Vernon, several local MPs and a baronet.

However, the same genes also gave rise to a Vernon who created one of the great domestic scandals of the late 18th century, and another who felt more at home in Argentina than the green acres of Hanbury.

Learn more about the Vernon family

The story of the Vernon family has not run smoothly, slightly contradicting the family motto: Vernon semper viret: (Vernon always flourishes).

To learn more about the Vernon family and the evolution of Hanbury Hall, read the timeline below and discover important moments in the estate’s history.

The George London formal garden

The original garden at Hanbury Hall was designed in 1705 by George London, a predecessor to other renowned designers Kent, Brown and Nash.

He was the most celebrated garden designer of his time, creating gardens for royalty and nobility at Chatsworth, Hampton Court and Kensington Palace.

Overseas influences in the garden

English gardens at the time were heavily influenced by William of Orange’s gardens at Paleis Het Loo in the Netherlands, as well as those of Louis XIV at Versailles.

In George London’s interpretations, garden designs became softer and more incorporative of the surrounding English Landscape.

London created gardens where people could escape the tumultuous early 18th-century world with his formal designs, using mathematical precision and newly imported plants.

He created a haven for drama, fun and recreation.

Hanbury’s garden follows landscaping fashions

As the landscape movement gained momentum through the mid-1700s, formal Parterres and closely trimmed topiary gave way to more relaxed landscapes inspired by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.

Towards the end of the 18th century, the gardens at Hanbury were swept away, replaced with wide open spaces and uninterrupted views. They remained as such for the next 200 years.

The last George London gardens

Many gardens created by George London were lost at this time due to the changing fashions in garden design.

Perhaps only one original garden remains, at Melbourne Hall in Derbyshire, but other London gardens have been faithfully recreated, first at Hampton Court Palace in the Privy Garden and then at Hanbury Hall in the Great Garden.

Topiary in the Parterre in July at Hanbury Hall and Gardens, Worcestershire.
Topiary in the Parterre garden at Hanbury Hall | © National Trust Images/Jonathan Buckley

Recreating the original garden at Hanbury Hall

In the early 1990s work began to recreate London’s garden at Hanbury Hall. Not a trace of the original garden remained but using London’s original 1705 plans along with other historic plans and drawings, we worked with a team of experts to determine the layout of the topiary and hedge framework that made up the structure of the Great Garden.

Historic planting guides were also used to choose appropriate plants to fill the Parterre and surrounding borders with colour and scent throughout the seasons.

‘It has been a privilege seeing the garden develop; it seems like only yesterday that the grand opening took place. Like all great gardens they change and develop over the years, their character matures but like Peter Pans they never really grow up.’

– Neil Cook, Gardens and Park Manager

On 28 July 1995, the garden officially opened and since then, the gardening team at Hanbury have lovingly and patiently maintained this recreated historic gem. Hanbury’s garden is now one of just three of its kind in the country.

So, whilst we continue to celebrate Capability Brown’s momentous achievements in landscape design, let’s also remember to celebrate the quiet perfectionist gardens of George London at Hanbury.

The evolution of Hanbury Hall


The lasting legacy of Thomas Vernon

Thomas Vernon amassed a fortune as an eminent Chancery barrister for 40 years, as well as becoming Whig MP for Worcester in 1715. He married Mary Keck in 1680 but they had no children, so the estate was passed to his cousin, Bowater Vernon.  

Thomas’ legacy at the hall included the wall and ceiling paintings that he commissioned Sir James Thornhill to create. These depict the story of Achilles and, having been recently restored, are Hanbury's crowning glory. 

The Painted Staircase in the Hall at Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire
The Painted Staircase in the Hall at Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire | © National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert
The Parterre in July at Hanbury Hall and Gardens, Worcestershire

Discover more at Hanbury Hall

Find out when Hanbury Hall is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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The restored parterre at Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire with neatly clipped box hedging in a geometric pattern interspersed with summer flowers. Behind the parterre the red brick exterior of the house can be seen.

The garden and parkland at Hanbury Hall 

Enjoy the gardens and parkland at Hanbury Hall. From the Walled Garden to Kytes Orchard and beyond, the outdoors at Hanbury look beautiful throughout the year.

Visitors sitting in the courtyard at Hanbury Hall enjoying coffee and cake

Eating at Hanbury Hall 

Relax and enjoy a bite to eat after exploring Hanbury Hall in the Courtyard Kitchen and the Stables Cafe.

A family with their dog sit outside the cafe at Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire

Visiting Hanbury Hall with your dog 

Hanbury Hall is a two pawprint rated place. Explore nearly 400 acres of parkland, woodland and open fields on a dog walk at Hanbury Hall. Find out where you can walk your dog and read our Canine Code here.

A visitor sits on the sofa in the Ladies Parlour at Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire, laughing with a volunteer as they listen to records on the old gramophone.

Volunteer opportunities at Hanbury Hall 

Find out more about volunteering at Hanbury Hall and how you can join the team and play your part in looking after this special place.

Overhead view of an octagonal table with the figure of Silenus, a drunken follower of Bacchu, in The Library at Claydon House in Buckinghamshire


Learn about people from the past, discover remarkable works of art and brush up on your knowledge of architecture and gardens.

Detail of late eighteenth-century black lacquer chest made in China for the European market in the Hall at Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire

Hanbury Hall's collections 

Explore the objects and works of art we care for at Hanbury Hall on the National Trust Collections website.