Wightwick: the haven of a romantic Industrialist

Archive photograph of Sir Geoffrey Mander showing Sir Clement Attlee around Wightwick Manor

Geoffrey Mander's gift of Wightwick Manor and Gardens to the National Trust in 1937 stands out for many reasons.

Country House Scheme

Wightwick was the first house given under the Country House Scheme, which had been set up only a few months earlier, and went on to save most of the iconic buildings now associated with the National Trust.

Still in residence

Geoffrey was also the first donor to offer his home during his own lifetime and then continue to live in, and open the building to the public. At first it was just Sir Geoffrey and Lady Mander opening the house on Thursday afternoons to the handful of visitors. However the popularity of both the National Trust and country house visiting prompted the need for more helpers who gave tours and welcomed visitors.

Arts and Crafts

The manor was itself a remarkable survivor of the fickle nature of fashion. Its Aesthetic Movement interiors, heavy with the designs by William Morris and his associates had almost been lost in the 1920's but found new life in the 1930's and 40s.

With its barley twist brick chimneys and oak framed white-washed walls, the design of house looked to be something from five centuries earlier, rather than just five decades old. Even the garden, designed by Thomas Mawson, still retained its clear lines of yew hedges, bold planting and expansive lawns.

In every way, Wightwick Manor remains a vision of a late Victorian private home, enhanced through the years and with the individual personal touches of a family's idiosyncrasies.