From the Norman Conquest onwards, the Hanbury estate was within the boundaries of the Royal Forest of Feckenham. Feckenham’s royal status was lost in 1629 and local families like the Vernons bought up land to increase their own estates. The building of the Hall started in 1701 and was designed, we believe, by William Rudhall.
The lasting legacy of Thomas Vernon (1654–1721) includes 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.
Most notable were the changes made by Emma Vernon (1755–1818) who, after inheriting Hanbury aged 16 in 1771, used her fortune to alter the sitting room and drawing room. When Emma eloped with the local curate, her husband Henry Cecil closed the hall and sold all of the furniture.
The original gardens
The gardens, commissioned by Thomas Vernon, builder of Hanbury Hall, were designed and completed in 1701 by George London, in the very formal style of the time. They included the parterre, fruit garden and wilderness.
Emma Vernon swept away the formal gardens. She favoured up-to-date fashionable ‘natural’ gardens, inspired by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.
The orangery and lawn appeared later. Practical aspects including an ice house, walled garden, orchard, and mushroom house were also created in order to sustain the estate – these additions were invaluable to produce food.
Funding was secured in the early 1990s for the restoration of the gardens. Plans, maps, paintings, archaeological and geophysical techniques were used to gain a better idea of position and scale to produce the garden you see today. The jewel in the crown is the magnificent parterre, which looks impressive all year round.