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West Horsley Place, Surrey: The real-life country house where the BBC’s Ghosts is filmed
West Horsley Place is one of the most important historic houses in Surrey — and it’s enjoying a new lease of life as a centre for the Arts, not least thanks to its starring role in Ghosts, one of the most popular BBC comedies in years. John Goodall looks at the history of this remarkable building. Photographs by Paul Highnam for Country Life.
On January 27, 1591, the ailing Viscount Montague called together his Surrey neighbours for a valedictory dinner at West Horsley Place. The event is recorded in an anonymous contemporary account recently rediscovered by Michael Questier ( Historical Research , 77, 2004). After ‘good cheer’ over dinner, all the guests, as well as ‘the gentlewomen of the house, the waiting maids, strangers and others, all his men servants, gentlemen and yeomen’ were gathered ‘in the great chamber… where my Lord caused us of the better sort to sit down, himself sitting amongst us’.
There, he began a speech, explaining that he wanted to be merry in this company because he might never return to the house. Also, that he wanted to explain his life — ‘how I have been dealt withal’ — and for his audience to bear witness to what he said.
Locally born at Betchworth, the Viscount continued, he and his father had been raised to prosperity by Henry VIII. During Queen Mary’s reign, he had done some service to the future Elizabeth I, who knew thereby his ‘faithful and loyal heart’. There followed a revelation. Elizabeth I had granted him ‘an extraordinary favour, the freedom of my conscience. For I confess before you all that I am a Catholic in my religion’. He went on to state that he neither interfered nor directed any other person’s beliefs and, with reference to the Armada, insisted that he would oppose a foreign invasion of England. Everyone, he urged, owed loyalty to the Queen.
Fig 2: The silk-hung drawing room, with its fireplace of about 1750, was partly created out of the volume of the 1548 great chamber. West Horsley Place in Surrey, property of the West Horsley Place Trust. Phto by Paul Highnam for Country Life. ©Country Life
He concluded by desiring that his words — unimaginable from other mouths — be publicised and rose from his stool, apologising for his ‘long… and wearisome tale out of order’ from an old man whose ‘wits were worn’ and called for the company to move into the withdrawing chamber beyond. Everyone then took their leave, but the writer and his immediate company were conducted downstairs ‘to the gate’. There, ‘calling for wine and beer [the Viscount] did drink to us and so we departed… with receipt of many kind and honourable speeches’.
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The room in which the Viscount’s apologia was delivered can still be confidently identified in the architectural palimpsest of West Horsley Place, once also known as Sheep Leze, the Sheep Leeze or Sheep Leas. The house probably stands on the site of a pre-Conquest manor and a late-medieval owner, James de Berners, a favourite of Richard II executed in 1388, is pictured in the stained glass of the neighbouring church. In 1423, a descendant of his, the child heiress Margery Berners, married a certain John Fereby and it is at this point that the story of the present building properly begins.
Fig 3: At one end of the hall is a screen of columns. West Horsley Place in Surrey, property of the West Horsley Place Trust. Phto by Paul Highnam for Country Life. ©Country Life
The house then almost certainly assumed the conventional H-plan of a hall with cross-ranges to either end, one accommodating the services, the other the family withdrawing chambers. Tree-ring dating shows that the earliest surviving part of the present building, the west wing, was erected in 1425 (and added to in 1428). This long timber-frame range — now truncated — was divided into multiple chambers on two levels. Substantially constructed and expensively detailed, this wing presumably replaced an earlier domestic cross-range and provided updated accommodation for Fereby and his bride.
In 1441, having been widowed, Margery married again, this time to John Bourchier. In recognition of her wealth, Bourchier was summoned to Parliament as Lord Berners. His grandson, another John, was a soldier, diplomat and the first English translator of Froissart’s Chronicles . He mortgaged the manor in 1522 and it subsequently passed into the hands of the Crown by his death in 1533. Tree-ring dating shows that the kitchen cross-range was rebuilt at some time between 1494 and 1526 and also that the stair block beside it was erected in 1534.
This latter, modest addition must have been the work of Henry VIII’s companion, Thomas Courtenay, Marquess of Exeter, who was granted West Horsley by the King in the early 1530s. His Marchioness, Gertrude, received the Benedictine nun, Elizabeth Barton, known as the Holy Maid of Kent, at the house and, according to the investigations that led to the nun’s execution in 1534, she experienced a visionary trance here.
Fig 4: The exterior of the opera house, home of Grange Park Opera since 2017, with its hatched brickwork and encircling colonnade. West Horsley Place in Surrey, property of the West Horsley Place Trust. Phto by Paul Highnam for Country Life. ©Country Life
The Marquess was destroyed by Thomas Cromwell in 1538 and a posthumous inventory records a falconry mews at his house, as well as numerous musical instruments: a double virginal, three small organs or regals and nine viols. It is also clear that there was an elaborate garden, because bills for its maintenance at royal expense, submitted by one John Gardyner in 1546–47, survive. They mention knots, rose and strawberry borders, a mount and grass alleys. Perhaps the house was, in fact, less a place of entertainment requiring grand architectural remodelling than a retreat.
In 1547, West Horsley was once again granted away by the King to another courtier, Sir Anthony Browne. His seat was at Battle Abbey, East Sussex, and, in 1542, he inherited Cowdray in West Sussex, built by his half-brother the Earl of Southampton. He nevertheless immediately set about improving West Horsley, replacing the existing hall with a two-storey range. As was becoming fashionable, this incorporated a hall at ground-floor level and a formal entertaining room or great chamber above it. The timbers of this new range were felled in the winter of 1547/48, just before Sir Anthony’s death on April 28, 1548.
Even by this latter date, however, work was presumably complete to a plaster ceiling over the great chamber, because it displays the badges of Sir Anthony and his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of the Earl of Kildare (and, as ‘Fair Geraldine’, the youthful object of poetic admiration by the Earl of Surrey). This plaster ceiling — of which a small and heavily restored fragment survives ( Fig 5 ) — is a very early example of what would become a late-16th-century decorative commonplace. Its only dated predecessor is a lost 1460s ceiling at Great Chalfield, Wiltshire (COUNTRY LIFE, July 26, 2017 ).
Fig 5: A surviving fragment of the great-chamber ceiling of 1548, an early example of such decoration. The colouring is 20th century and the whole is heavily restored. West Horsley Place in Surrey, property of the West Horsley Place Trust. Phto by Paul Highnam for Country Life. ©Country Life
After Sir Anthony’s death, West Horsley remained in the hands of his widow, but, in 1552, she married again, this time to military commander Edward Fiennes de Clinton. The match lasted more than 30 years and, in the middle of it, in 1572, her husband was elevated to the Earldom of Lincoln.
She clearly continued to use West Horsley, however, and her will in 1589 identifies several sets of tapestry — including the story of Hercules, the story of Solomon and verdure hangings in her bed chamber — with reference to their ‘usual’ position in the house, respectively, in the withdrawing chamber, chamber and bed chamber. Clearly, these highly prized and portable items regularly hung here.
In the meantime, Sir Anthony’s other properties passed to his namesake son, with whose apologia we began. He was created Viscount Montague by Queen Mary and died at West Horsley on October 19, 1592. The house, which he owned for only three years, obviously enjoyed a special place in his affections. His property and title passed first to his grandson Anthony-Maria and then, in 1629, to his great-grandson Francis.
Both men came of age at more or less the moment they inherited and were hounded for their Catholicism; the latter was also a Royalist. He first mortgaged the property and then, in 1656, sold it to the third son of the adventurer Sir Walter Ralegh, Carew Ralegh. Eight years later, in 1664, the whole estate was purchased by a returning senior Royalist official, Edward Nicholas, for £9,750.
Fig 6: The library in the 1420s range. West Horsley Place in Surrey, property of the West Horsley Place Trust. Phto by Paul Highnam for Country Life. ©Country Life
One of these four owners was responsible for recasting the house in the middle decades of the 17th century. Hitherto, the building had evolved in timber frame, but the hall and west wing were now refronted in brick. This right-angle façade was two storeys high, the upper detailed with pilasters and incorporated a porch, now lost ( Fig 1 ) . The gables may or may not be an original feature; a hipped roof is a possible alternative. Who built it?
On the comparative evidence of such houses as Kew Palace, then west of London, the house is usually dated to the 1630s, when it was still a secondary property of the Montagues. That might agree with its 1650s description by the diarist as John Evelyn as a ‘neat’ house, but without an accompanying comment that it was new, as well as the concurrent adaptation of such Catholic-owned neighbouring properties as Arbury.
Ralegh, however, claimed to have spent £2,000 on the building when he sold it to Nicholas. Not only was there a bell in the house dated 1661, but his crests and initials — now lost — are known to have ornamented the great chamber. If the house was rebuilt in 1661, however, why did Nicholas complain in 1664 of roofs letting in the rain? Even Nicholas — rich and keen to create a family seat in Surrey — can’t entirely be discounted as the builder. Certainly, he or his son, John, who inherited in 1669, was responsible for a new stair opening off the hall ( Fig 9 ) .
Fig 7: One of two gabled brick kennels created in about 1840 for Henry Currie’s deerhounds Dersey and Dermid. West Horsley Place in Surrey, property of the West Horsley Place Trust. Phto by Paul Highnam for Country Life. ©Country Life
John’s wife was killed at West Horsley when a great storm in 1703 brought down a chimney stack on their bed. He survived the accident, but died just over a year later and was succeeded in sequence by his sons Edward, John and William, the last of whom died in 1749 ‘a bachelor worth £150,000 aged 81’ (according to The Gentleman’s Magazine ). In 1730, oddly, before his brother John died in 1742, William contracted with one Mr Overton of Esher to repair the 1548 ceiling of the great chamber (then the dining room). This is a very early example of the Georgian interest in Gothic. Could it relate to William Kent’s 1730s restoration of Esher Palace? The accompanying drawing gives the dimensions of a ceiling that doesn’t fit in the present plan of the house and suggests both a different configuration of rooms and heraldic badges. An estate map from about this period shows the present garden layout ( Fig 8 ) .
William probably also re-fenestrated the house with sash windows and truncated the west wing, carefully rebuilding its gable with recycled bricks. The main Classical interiors, including the hall ( Fig 3 ) and drawing room (the later all but destroying the great chamber) ( Fig 2 ) , therefore seem unlikely to be his work. Perhaps they were created by Henry Weston, to whom William bequeathed the house. Further changes were undertaken by 19th-century occupants to impose the impression of symmetry on the main front. Notable among them was Henry Currie, who was born at neighbouring Horsley Towers and rented the property from 1838. He built two gabled dog kennels in the forecourt ( Fig 7 ) .
Fig 8: This map of about 1730 shows the house before its 18th-century re-ordering and the garden compartments, including the crinkle-crankle wall (top left) and stableyard (bottom right). West Horsley Place in Surrey, property of the West Horsley Place Trust. Phto by Paul Highnam for Country Life. ©Country Life
The next important round of changes followed the purchase of the house in 1931 by the politician, bibliophile and diplomat Lord Crewe. He installed modern services and created a space for his large library ( Fig 6 ) . He was also probably responsible for hanging the drawing-room walls in antique silk. Meanwhile his wife, the Marchioness of Crewe, renewed the garden within its historic walled compartments. Her planting was later simplified as an economy by her daughter, Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe, who inherited the house after the Second World War.
The Duchess lived at West Horsley until her death in 2014 at the age of 99, at which time her nephew, the television presenter Bamber Gascoigne, unexpectedly found himself named as the owner. A survey of the house revealed the building to be in parlous condition, but, rather than sell it, Gascoigne and his wife, Christina, decided to vest the entire estate and all the proceeds from the sale of its contents into a trust with three purposes: to restore the buildings, host performances and encourage craft. In each respect, the trust has made remarkable strides, undertaking essential repairs, acting as a filming venue — including for the BBC comedy series Ghosts , which had shades of Gascoigne’s predicament — and with a newly restored barn that, together with the main house, acts as a venue for workshops and performances.
Fig 9: This fine late-17th-century stair connects the hall and the drawing room above it. West Horsley Place in Surrey, property of the West Horsley Place Trust. Phto by Paul Highnam for Country Life. ©Country Life
In addition to these undertakings, the estate has been the home of Grange Park Opera since 2017. The new opera house, erected in only 11 months outside the formal garden, is modelled internally on La Scala in Milan, Italy, and seats 750. The hatched-brick drum of the auditorium faces the house and is encircled by a colonnade ( Fig 4 ) . Gascoigne died in 2022, but his vision, generosity and the continuing support of Mrs Gascoigne promise a remarkable future for this outstanding house and its estate.
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Is the SPR’s conference venue haunted?
SPR member Mick O'Neill has done some research into the venue of the SPR's forthcoming conference (1st-3rd September) and found some interesting information:
'Is the SPR’s conference venue haunted? The Society for Psychical Research conference in September is to be held at the neo-Gothic De Vere Horsley estate, just outside London. I found three links that suggest it could be haunted, one suggesting Ada Lovelace was the ghost.
'1. "One of our principal locations, Horsley Towers, is apparently listed among the 10 most haunted places in Europe. The spirit of a famous English poet's daughter, who died of a drug overdose, apparently haunts it. “ Presumably, this is Byron’s daughter, Ada Lovelace whose husband rebuilt it and whose home it was for her last seven years, although she died of cancer: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/…/articlesh…/59270938.cms
'2. Neil Wheeler commented on a video on YouTube: “Personally I would add Horsley Towers, Surrey to this list (5 most haunted hotels in the world). I was the hotel manager there for 2 years, convinced me that ghosts exist.“ https://plus.google.com/10671363951193818…/posts/gmkF3wWFz9V
'3. I found this on tripadvisor: On arriving back to the hotel and a few more drinks in the bar, we decided to be brave and go and look around horsley towers mansion again. We got in the door and once again no one was around, we had a coffee and I decided to walk up the stairs, once at the top of the stairs, a door slammed shut, I was gone, I ran all the way back to my room. My husband however stayed and said that a clip clop sound was coming down the stairs, but after waiting till this noise came down the stairs still nothing. When he got back to reception, she then informed us, it is supposed to be haunted: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g1077124-d551175-r150397873-De_Vere_Horsley_Estate-East_Horsley_Surrey_England.html
'My sceptical side says that googling “ haunted Horsley” is bound to turn up some evidence in any old building but I was surprised at the claims. Is it all hype?'
Information on the conference can be found here:
Update 23 July 2017:
Mick has found a further reference - "the barman staying after his hours to take our (very drunken) friends and familty on some late night ghost tours was amazing, he really didn't have to do this and we received so many positives about his and his teams service throughout the night":
Will YOU see a ghost at the De Vere?
Inside West Horsley Place where hit BBC comedy Ghosts is filmed
The Grade I listed building has been used as a filming location for a number of films including Enola Holmes
- 11:59, 19 AUG 2021
West Horsley Place is a Grade I listed building known for its grand interior and is the setting of BBC comedy Ghosts.
Ghosts is a comedy about a young couple who inherit a country mansion, only to find it's ridden with ghosts.
It's described as a grown-up comedy made by the same team as Horrible Histories and the third series returned in early August.
READ MORE: Harry Potter Studio announces Hogwarts Halloween event and it sounds amazing
It's not the first time West Horsley Place, which dates back to 1425 - located between Guildford and Leatherhead - has been used for filming before.
Previously, the location was used for 2015 ITV television film Harry Price: Ghost Hunter and again for the 2020 film Enola Holmes.
The Enola Holmes production - a spin-off of the Sherlock Holmes detective series, which stars Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill and Helena Bonham Carter - took advantage of the house's grand interior.
The house was also used for the adaptation of My Cousin Rachel, with Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin (who is also in Enola Holmes).
West Horsley Place is currently owned by television presenter Bamber Gascoigne, who inherited the property and estate from his great-aunt, the Duchess of Roxburghe, in 2014.
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West Horsley Place is a Grade I listed building
The manor house in West Horsley Place
West Horsley Place is located just outside Guildford
The house is the setting of BBC comedy Ghosts
The grand interior has been used for a number of films and TV shows
West Horsley Place gained fame as the backdrop of the blockbuster movie, My Cousin Rachel
There has been a manor house on the estate since soon after the Norman Conquest
Interior shots were also used for 2020 film Enola Holmes
Television presenter Bamber Gascoigne inherited the building and estate after 99-year-old aunt, Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe passed away in 2014
BBC comedy Ghosts returned in August for its third series
The outside is just as impressive as the inside of the house
The front door leading into the impressive interior
The house comes with its own 300-acre estate
Since the 15th century, the building has been a private residence
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From The Stone Tape to Quatermass: unearthing Nigel Kneale locations today
Buried menace in buildings and landscapes is key to the world of Nigel Kneale. Ahead of a new season of his work at BFI Southbank, we went looking for the same places today.
23 March 2022
By Adam Scovell
Whether putting the era’s angry young men on the big screen, bringing terrifying ghosts into the home or burying Martians under the local tube station, the British screenwriter Nigel Kneale was a unique and pivotal figure in our screen culture.
Initially starting out as an actor in radio, Kneale soon split his time between television and film work, often overseeing the transition of his scripts between the two. Because of this, the influence of his screenplays – from the vital series of Quatermass dramas to weird fictions of the 1970s such as The Stone Tape (1972) and Beasts (1976) – is as vast as it is varied.
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Kneale especially understood the role of place in his work. Both urban and rural locations were more than mere backdrops: they were characters in their own right, even when realised in film or television studios. Thankfully, many productions of Kneale’s work did get out into the real world and excavated menace from actual buildings and landscapes.
Here are five locations from Kneale’s screenplays as they stand today.
The village from The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)
Beginning Hammer Studios’ storied turn toward all things terrifying, Kneale’s big-screen take on his own BBC screenplay The Quatermass Experiment (or ‘Xperiment’ as the film called itself, proudly displaying its X certificate), is a profoundly important film for British genre cinema.
Typical of Hammer, it made the most of the locations near to its studios at Bray in Berkshire, and the opening segment was filmed in the village there. After a space rocket crashes in the field, director Val Guest films the reaction in the village. The first shot we see is of The Crown pub on Bray High Street. The pub still stands today.
Next, we see further up the high street and a shot of another pub, this time The Hind’s Head (now part of Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck group), just as the emergency services shoot past towards the disaster area.
The shot follows the fire engines and various vehicles back along the high street and down towards the field where who knows what alien menace is waiting for Professor Quatermass (Brian Donlevy) and his team.
The graveyard from Look Back in Anger (1959)
Though better known for his horror work, Kneale also played a pivotal role in the British New Wave and kitchen sink dramas of the postwar years, adapting John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger and The Entertainer (1960) with Tony Richardson.
Look Back in Anger really kickstarted this celebrated movement of films following angry young men. In one scene, the eponymous Jimmy (Richard Burton) accompanies Ma Tanner (Edith Evans) to the grave of her husband. The scene was shot in the graveyard of St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church off the Harrow Road and adjacent to Kensal Green Cemetery.
The second shot confirms the initially obscure location almost exactly, with the distinctive architecture of the bridge of Scrubs Lane over the canal and railway lines. The graves may be tidier today, but the remnants of a more industrial city remain.
The ruin from The Witches (1966)
Following The Abominable Snowman (1957), The Witches was Kneale’s second non-Quatermass film for Hammer. Directed by Cyril Frankel, it’s a strange village-based horror in which Joan Fontaine faces down an occult conspiracy. Though filmed largely in Hambleden in Buckinghamshire, the film’s most important moments, in particular its ceremonies and sacrifices, take place nearby in Henley-on-Thames, specifically Bix Bottom. We initially see the ruin from the side as the characters first explore it.
The church was once St James’, a medieval site that was abandoned in the late 1800s. Unlike in the film, there is no graveyard today and the overgrowth of the surroundings has long since been cut back.
Eagle-eyed viewers may recognise the location more readily from Piers Haggard’s classic folk horror The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971). The Witches foreshadows that film with some remarkably similar shots. The following two shots, for example, are framed almost exactly alike in both films.
Appropriately, the final ceremony of the film is also shot from the same angle as in Haggard’s film. If one thing is for certain, the church at Bix Bottom was the place for terrible sacred rites in the films of the period.
The church from Quatermass and the Pit (1967)
Roy Ward Baker’s haunting adaptation of Nigel Kneale’s celebrated screenplay was chiefly a studio affair. With its mystery predominantly surrounding the fictional tube station of Hobb’s End – where a Martian spacecraft is unearthed, leading to increasingly strange and horrifying events – very little location work was required. However, Baker chose one particularly effective location for a small but chilling moment.
The night-time sequence begins as Sladden (Duncan Lamont) is driven mad by the power of the craft. He stumbles through the streets, seemingly directed by the alien intelligence. He finds himself in a graveyard, clutching the gravestones as he tries to escape the power. The church is St Nicholas’, a beautiful and historic building near the river in Chiswick, London. Sladden eventually climbs beyond the church and through a gap in the fence. The graves have slightly altered but several remain, marking the spot exactly where Baker directed the scene.
Hearing of Sladden’s madness and his sanctuary in the church, Quatermass (Andrew Kier) and Barbara (Barbara Shelley) make their way there. They are seen wandering down the path known as Powell’s Walk before the camera pans and follows them into one of the church’s entrances.
The castle from The Stone Tape (1972)
1972 was a bumper year for television horror. BBC viewers that winter were positively spoiled with series like Dead of Night and the BBC Ghost Story at Christmas, A Warning to the Curious. Perhaps most unusual in this spooky season was Kneale’s contribution, the celebrated hauntology-drenched horror The Stone Tape. Though filmed largely in studios via multi-camera, director Peter Sasdy films several establishing shots of a real place throughout, as was common practice in that era’s television. The building was Horsley Towers and still stands today.
Set in the fictional castle of Taskerlands, the play follows an electronics company setting up a research establishment in the old building, only to find that the place is haunted. One room in particular seems to have recorded ghostly moments from the past.
A handful of shots show the lavish venue throughout the drama, all of which still reflect how the building is seen today. The entranceway, for example, which we see being swept, is exactly as it was.
The lake that is admired by Peter (Michael Bryant) and Roy (Iain Cuthbertson) also remains, but is a little tidier today.
The last shots we see of the location revolve around the main entrance. Jill (Jane Asher) leaves Taskerlands lost and unnerved. Today, the entrance is the hotel’s main door into this luxury domain. Horsley Towers is more likely to see a wedding rather than a haunting these days.
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The stone tape.
Of course, this was a notable influence on the 'Doctor Who' episode "Hide".
That's an excellent spot, Silent Hunter! One of my favourite episodes from the Matt Smith era. Another nice Doctor Who connection is that Tom Chadbon aka Duggan from City of Death appears in The Stone Tape. Oh and Iain Cuthbertson was Garron in The Ribos Operation.
Nice article. However I feel I have to point out that the 2013 DVD is on 101 Films, not BBC.
Ghosts mansion from BBC sitcom fundraising for repairs
- Published 6 days ago
The trust for a historic mansion featured in the BBC series Ghosts is calling for help to make repairs.
West Horsley Place is a Grade I listed medieval building used as the location for Button House in the hit sitcom.
The director of West Horsley Place Trust said about £7m worth of work was needed on the property.
The final episode of the show aired on Christmas Day, wrapping up the tale of newlyweds Alison and Mike, along with their ghostly housemates.
Ilona Harris, director of the trust, said the scheme would encourage the public to become "buttoneers" and donate to the house.
She said: "There's a significant amount of work that has already gone on but a huge amount still needed."
Restoration work includes repairs to chimneys, making the roof watertight and conservation to protect the 17th century silk walls.
For donations ranging from £10-£500, "Buttoneers" will be recognised in various ways.
They can get their name in the Button House visitors book or purchase a limited edition copy of a love letter to one of the ghosts in the show, Thomas.
There is even the chance to get a miniature version of yourself put inside the doll's house from the credits, which is on display at the house.
The Ghosts finale was the fourth most popular show on Christmas Day, behind the King's Christmas Broadcast, a Strictly Come Dancing special and Doctor Who.
The late Bamber Gascoigne, the original quizmaster on University Challenge, inherited the house from his great aunt following her death in 2014.
He and his wife Christina created a charitable trust in 2015 giving ownership of West Horsley Place and all its assets to the charity.
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Dr Leo Ruickbie, FRHistS, FRAI
"Leading Historian and Sociologist of the Paranormal" (Daily Express)
The Society for Psychical Research at Horsley Towers
The society for psychical research’s 41st international annual conference.
Of course Horsley Towers is haunted. Dating from 1558, but rebuilt in a neo-Gothic style in the nineteenth century, the building has connections with Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace, mathematician and only daughter of Romantic poet Lord Byron, Sir T.O.M. Sopwith, the man responsible for developing the famous Sopwith Camel, and a ghost. In 1972, the country house was used as the location for the BBC drama The Stone Tape. The film crew had difficulties getting their equipment to work and even when it did still had electrical problems – and then there was the sense of a mysterious presence, at least according to De Vere Venue’s ‘History of Horsley Towers’.
Mysterious presences were certainly on the agenda for the 41st International Annual Conference of the Society for Psychical Research, held, not in Horsely Towers exactly, but a modern ‘management centre’ featuring a futuristic tunnel that would not be out of place on the set of Dr Who. As usual, an international cast had journeyed far and wide to be here to present the latest research in the field of psychical research. Many had trudged along winding lanes from the distant train station to arrive in what had once been a haven of gentility and, if the rumours concerning Byron’s daughter are to be believed, opium experimentation, but which was now a modern conference centre offering, among other things, survival weekends with Bear Grylls. To everyone’s great advantage, the venue provided on-site accommodation, dining and conference facilities – there would be no reason to see the outside world from 5 o’clock Friday to 5 o’clock Sunday.
Conference Chair, Prof. Adrian Parker, welcomed us and introduced us to the programme for our own ‘survival’ weekend. The conference was broadly divided into several themes: spontaneous psychic experiences; altered states (not just for Ada); near-death and light experiences; apparitional experiences; mediumship; healing and fasting; psychokinesis; unconscious processes; and several special presentations, including the ‘Psi Open-Data’ project and the announcement of the winner of the Paranormal Review’s photography competition. After-dinner speeches were supplied by Prof. Adrian Parker and Dr Annekatrin Puhle, and Dr Peter Fenwick.
Inscribed on the beams in the Great Hall of Horsley Towers are the family mottos, one of which reads Labor Ipse Voluptus (‘Labour Itself is Pleasure’): it could have been the motto for the conference. Enjoyable as always, the range of subjects covered by the speakers was breath-taking, taking us from trance mediumship in Tibetan Buddhism with Martha Maxine Meilleur (Harvard Divinity School) to demonic possession with Dr Ciaran O’Keefe (Buckinghamshire New University).
The Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes at the University of Northampton was here in full strength, with Prof. Chris Roe’s freshly minted PhDs, Dr Callum Cooper, Dr David Saunders and Rachel Evenden all presenting fascinating papers on their recent research. Dr Cooper published an article on his work with flotation tanks in the last number of this magazine (see PR85).
The Koestler Parapsychology Unit (KPU) was also represented with Edinburgh’s new professor Caroline Watt chairing the session on unconscious processes and her PhD student Ana Flores scheduled to present on her work on mind-matter interaction. Although unfortunately not able to attend, Prof. Watt came to the rescue by reading out her paper.
From the Netherlands, the Managing Director of Het Johann Borgman Fonds, Wim Kramer, and colleague Selma Hofstra talked about Jan Valckenier Suringar and Gerald Croiset’s British cases, respectively.
Keeping us up to date with ongoing research, Dr Sean Richards talked about his ‘Greetings Project’ on instrumental trans-communication (see PR85 ) and Ross Friday presented his further progress on the question of whether people can paranormally detect when they are being watched or listened to.
Dr David Vernon, the Journal’s new editor, presented on his work on precall. From Spain’s Paranormal Psychology Institute, Dr Marcelo Eremian looked at recurrent and shared apparitional experiences (see PR83). From Norway, Jon Mannsåker reviewed the research on paranormal healing. From France’s LAPDC, a privately funded parapsychology laboratory in Poitiers, Dr Eric Dullin questioned whether telekinesis or aerodynamic/ thermal effects caused the movement of a small device, a ‘spinning mobile’ – he brought one along to show us. From Germany, Marcus Mast reviewed the evidence for anomalous fasting, concluding that there is none. From Sweden, Dr Annekatrin Puhle talked about thoughtforms and her research on people’s transformatory experiences with light.
Dr Kate Adams, Head of Research at the Research and Innovation Centre, Bishop Grosseteste University, talked about children’s reported paranormal experiences. Prof. Parker remarked, ‘I’m quite surprised you can do that.’
Presenting a paper on the linguistic analysis of trance communication, Adalexis Rios-Orlandi reported that before she had known about the conference she had had a lucid dream with precognitive aspects in which she saw herself in an old house talking in English. Puzzled at the time, it all made sense to her now.
Originally published as Leo Ruickbie, ‘Journey to the Centre of the SPR: A Review of the SPR’s 41st International Annual Conference’, Paranormal Review , 86 (Spring 2018) .
Published by Leo Ruickbie
Dr Leo Ruickbie, FRHistS, FRAI, Associate of King’s College, is a Visiting Fellow in Psychology at the University of Northampton and the author of six books, most recently Angels in the Trenches: Spiritualism, Superstition and the Supernatural During the First World War. Actively involved in the parapsychological research community, he is a Council Member of the Society for Psychical Research and a Professional Member of the Parapsychological Association. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute. In 2021, he won third prize in the essay contest organised by the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies. View all posts by Leo Ruickbie
The Surrey Edit
History of horsley towers.
Architect Sir Charles Barry is perhaps best known for designing the Houses of Parliament and Highclere Castle (of Downton Abbey fame) but his work can also spectacularly be seen in Surrey. Sir Charles Barry’s third son, Edward Middleton Barry, designed the handsome building Cobham Park , also in Surrey.
Horsley Towers was built in 1828 – originally called East Horsley Park. At first it was a two-storey mansion house, yet to be transformed into the beautiful and iconic ‘Horsley Towers’ just behind the parade of shops in East Horsley.
When Lord Lovelace acquired the property, he was among the largest landowners in England. He really wanted a signature property to show his wealth and status and speedily renovated East Horsley Park for this purpose.
He added the Clock Tower first on the rear of the building, then the Great Hall with high and majestic ceilings…
Followed by the unique Chapel and Cloisters in 1859, using his own imaginative style.
These cloisters had a similar function to a modern day conservatory, mainly for recreational use in inclement weather, and they were also used by the ladies to show off and parade their dresses. Legend has it that there was a secret tunnel that used to run from underneath the cloisters to the local Inn… although this has still to be discovered!
The Chapel is such an amazing, dark and atmospheric space, making it a wonderful place for me to photograph…
With extremely ornate designs throughout…
The chapel is adorned with several coats of arms, representing various branches of the Lovelace family.
As I was walking down a corridor in the main building I noticed several large holes in the floor. That particular corridor was used by the servants of the house to carry through the food and wine from the kitchens when the Lords and Ladies were hosting their lavish banquets and the holes were used as spy holes in the floor so that the owners could spy on their servants and make sure no food was being stolen! Banqueting and hosting were seen as a sign of stature in 19 th Century England, the more extravagant and expensive the banquet, the higher the status of the host.
The village of East Horsley was originally named Horslei (Horses Clearing) and it was largely rebuilt by the First Earl of Lovelace during the mid-Victorian period. Lord Lovelace transformed what was simply a Surrey settlement into a model estate village. The Horsley buildings, from the Towers to modest cottages, all have an architectural theme unique to the area. The style has heavy European influences and Lovelace was seen as something of a maverick for introducing it at the time. There are over fifty of these Lovelace buildings in the village, most date from the mid-1860s when he came into his wife’s fortune. Many of the buildings have now been renovated for modern day use, with the outside keeping their charmingly unusual design.
The East Horsley Towers, chapel and site is now a hotel / meeting venue run by De Vere Venues and more information can be found here .
One thought on “History of Horsley Towers”
Came across your post and about a secret tunnel. My mother lived at Pitt Farm in Effingham, Surrey through her childhood. Her father boarded up a secret tunnel on the property which was rumoured by neighbours to go straight to ‘East Horsley Park’. Just thought you might wish to know this
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Culture and lifestyle blog.
Haunted Places in west horsley, Surrey
The Kings Arms and Royal Hotel Godalming
The ghost of Peter the Great is said to kick his boots off early in the morning hours. Objects are also thrown around. (Submitted by Chris Berglund)
East molesey, greater london.
The ghost of Catherine Howard is reported here, sometimes heard screaming, and a woman in grey, believed to be Sybil Penn has also been seen here. (Submitted by Chris Berglund)
Poltergeist activity is reported throughout. The location was once a monastery in the 14th century, but used to torture monks. Monks can be heard screaming and chanting in here. (Submitted by Chris Berglund)
Longford, greater london.
A plane accident in 1948 killed almost all of the 22 on board; one passenger who died will approach people asking if they have seen his briefcase before vanishing. He is also said to walk the runways. Submitted by Chris Berglund
Jerry Abershaw, nicknamed "The Laughing Highwayman", was known to terrorize this area before his hanging. He is seen on horseback riding through the common. The spirit of an escaped convict is also said to haunt this area. (Submitted by Chris Berglund)
Oakhurst Grange School
A private prep school for boys and girls ages 4-11 it seems unremarkable. however the building itself experienced several odd events after the late 1990's. The attic was renovated into a large art studio after years of neglect and there were several reports of students and faculty a like ...
The murders in this inn was the basis for Sweeney Todd; wealthy travelers were stripped of all useful items, then a level would open up a trapdoor where the victim would fall into a boiling pot of fat where they would die. Most of the activity is upstairs where the ...
Ramada Crawley Gatwick
Crawley, west sussex.
A night watchman was murdered by drinking poisoned wine; he is responsible for playing with lights or unlocking the broom closet by itself. (Submitted by Chris Berglund)
South Hill Park
A fire in the 19th century took the lives of two children. They are reported throughout the property. (Submitted by Chris Berglund)
Windsor, windsor and maidenhead.
The ghosts of Henry VIII (seen wandering in the halls), Anne Boleyn (seen in the Dean's Cloister looking out the window), Queen Elizabeth I (usually wearing all black), King George III (usually seen throughout, looking out of the windows), and Queen Victoria (seen throughout) have all been reported here. (Submitted by ...
London, greater london.
This cemetery is overrun by foliage and has been a victim of vandalism. If you come here at night, take caution; if you don't run into a hooligan, you might encounter the spirit of a nun that hovers around. Another legend involved an imp that would attack people in the ...
Three Legged Cross
Now closed, a gypsy was said to have cursed the pub; not long after, the owner fell ill and died. The gypsy herself is seen wandering around nearby. (Submitted by Chris Berglund)
St Nicholas Chiswick
Mary Fauconburg and Frances Rich, the daughter of Oliver Cromwell, are said to haunt this location. After Cromwell's death, his body was disinterred and beheaded publicly. The daughters are said to have bribed a guard to have his remains placed here, but his body is currently in an unmarked grave. ...
Now demolished (April 2015), the nightclub was once owned by a demonologist. The ghost of a woman named Ruth was commonly reported here, accompanied by the sound of footsteps and doors opening and closing by themselves. (Submitted by Chris Berglund)
Stockwell tube station
A very sociable workman is said to approach people, but disappear suddenly. He is thought to be the ghost of a man who died at this station in the 1950's. Submitted by Chris Berglund
The ghost of King George II is said to stand on the roof, although some people have heard his voice throughout the building. A man wearing white period clothing is reported in the courtyard and an elderly woman believed to be Queen Victoria's aunt is also seen here. Submitted by Chris ...
The Verdley Woods
West horsley, west sussex.
It is said that the last wild bear in England was killed here and now haunts the forest. Shadows are seen and guests sometimes feel like they are being watched. (Submitted by Chris Berglund)
Ickenham tube station
Ickenham, greater london.
A woman wearing a red scarf fell onto the track and was electrocuted to death in the 1950's. People have reported seeing her here, recognizing her by her scarf. Submitted by Chris Berglund
A hooded monk is seen in the cellar, usually within one's peripheral vision; he is said to vanish when guests turn their heads to get a look at him. A woman named the 'Grey Lady' is also seen in the corridors; she is believed to have been a nun who ...
The ghost of a murdered officer is said to remain here. Other people say that there's an evil energy here who throws objects around. (Submitted by Chris Berglund)
A tall woman in brown clothing is seen in the tunnels. She is said to be seven feet tall. Submitted by Chris Berglund
Hyde Park Corner tube station
A disembodied face has been seen here and might be the same ghost that gives people the feeling of being watched. Electrical breakers have been turned off and on by unknown forces and the temperature has suddenly dropped at times. Submitted by Chris Berglund
Major John Gwynne was secretary to King Edward VII, but shot himself after a bitter divorce. His presence is felt in the first floor room in which he ended his life, sometimes being seen or heard. A monk is also reported here said to have died in a cell that ...
St. James's Park
In the 18th century, a woman was murdered and then beheaded somewhere around here, but her murdered attempted to dispose of her here. While he was caught, she has been seen ever since, always covered in blood. (Submitted by Chris Berglund)
St James's Palace
An attempted murder on Ernest Augustus, former Duke of Cumberland, failed. Joseph Sellis, the valet of the Duke, was summoned, but found dead with his throat slit. It turned out that Sellis had attempted to assassinate the Duke, but failed. Sellis is sometimes seen with blood gushing down his neck ...
Deans yd, greater london.
Father Benedictus is the name given to a monk who is said to appear quite solid and able to hold very long and polite conversations. Another ghost is that of a soldier is said to stand by his tomb in silence. Submitted by Chris Berglund
50 Berkeley Square
A woman jumped to her death to end the abuse from her uncle in the early 19th century. Her ghost is said to scare people to death, including a maid who went insane and a sailor who died trying to flee from here. The ghost is said to appear as ...
Edgware Road Station
Here, as well as along the Bakeroo line, travelers will report seeing the reflection of someone sitting next to them despite how the seat is actually empty. Submitted by Chris Berglund
Kennington tube station
The loop here is used for empty trains to reroute. Train drivers have reported an invisible guest walking through the carriages and opening doors to other compartments. Submitted by Chris Berglund
Palace of Westminster
Officers who use the basement room to stay overnight report as if someone is putting heavy pressure on their chests. Submitted by Chris Berglund
Churchill War Rooms
Employees have found the hands of Churchill's wax dummy in different positions throughout the day; this catches the employees off guard because the dummy is behind glass. After closing hours, bootprints appear, doors are heard slamming shut, and the air feels colder. Submitted by Chris Berglund
Handel and Hendrix in London
A taller woman is seen here and sometimes, people can smell her perfume. She could possibly be an opera performer who would visit Handel when he still occupied this house. (Submitted by Chris Berglund)
Local lore states that on December 31st, just as the New Year bells chime, an apparition can be seen jumping from the bridge. Some claim that it is that of Jack the Ripper. Submitted by Chris Berglund
Ministry of Defence
The Ministry of Defence was built over the site of the Whitehall Palace, dating back to the 12th century. In the Tudor Wine Cellar, patrol guards have seen a man walking through the corridors; when confronted, the man had vanished, or sometimes would walk through walls. Submitted by Chris Berglund
A highwayman named William Boulter was hung for crimes. He is said to be seen along portions of the road. (Submitted by Chris Berglund)
The London Dungeon
This building has it's share of history; ghosts ranging from the Plague to that of World War II are reported. Usually, people have reported shadowy figures, children playing ring-a-ring-o-roses, a naked man floating, and a dark figure believed to be that of Jack the Ripper. Doors open and close, the ...
While the Chamber of Horrors might be enough to scare some people, faces behind people in photographs. A disturbing energy is felt here and was even featured on an episode of Most Haunted. (Submitted by Chris Berglund)
Embankment tube station
Doors open and close for no reason. Cold spots are also felt around Pages Walk, accompanied by a very eerie and unwelcoming feeling. Submitted by Chris Berglund
Elephant & Castle tube station
Footsteps and the sound of running are common. Sometimes, people are seen pacing in the carriages before vanishing. Knocks and rapping is also heard coming from empty corridors. Submitted by Chris Berglund
Wembley, greater london.
A wrongly excommunicated nun, nicknamed "The White Lady", haunted here from the 16th century until the late 19th century demanding a Christian burial. a skeleton was uncovered while doing work on the house and was thought to belong to her; since the discovery, the apparitions of her ceased. A woman ...
St. John's Wood tube station
Between here and the Baker Street Station, workers have reported the sounds and sights of someone invisible walking on the track. Five staff members have died working on this line and it is likely to be one of them. Submitted by Chris Berglund
Covent Garden tube station
19th century actor William Terriss was murdered nearby and is said to haunt this tube. He is usually dressed quite formally (light gloves, grey jacket, and top hat). Submitted by Chris Berglund
Aldwych Underground Station
It is said that the ghost of an actress walks along the tracks here. (Submitted by Chris Berglund)
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
A man in grey period-clothing is seen limping across the room before fading through the walls. It is also said that the ghosts of Joseph Grimaldi and Dan Leno have returned here in the afterlife and are very mischevious in their actions. (Submitted by Chris Berglund)
The British Museum
Legend has it that a cursed mummy was brought here and brought death and misfortune to those who came in contact with it. A tube station below also was said to have the mummy's ghost present and was possibily responsible for the disappearance of two women. Submitted by Chris Berglund
Guests and workers report a cavalier of 17th century origin in the cellar. He is said to be quite harmless and usually will just stare at people. (Submitted by Chris Berglund)
Judge Henry Hawkins manifests in the gardens and is said to stay visible for an extended period. Cavaliers, knights, and those who once occupied this area are also said to haunt this location, sometimes being caught on photo. (Submitted by Chris Berglund)
Lincoln Inn Site - Ghost Bird
Somewhere around this area once stood Lincoln's Inn. The offices of here were terrified of a presence that was thought to be a ghost bird; a young man had apparently been murdered in here for explanation while another hung himself inside of the same room. What they both had in ...
Clink Prison Museum
The Clink is one of the oldest prisons in London and a site for grizzly torture and interrogation methods. Most people will hear the noise of glass breaking and chains rattling, but poltergeist activity is also normal. Some shadows are reported and give a very gloomy and dreadful feeling. Submitted by ...
St Paul's Cathedral
In All Souls' Chapel, an old clergyman (apparently accompanied by a mysterious, high-pitched whistling noise) is seen. Submitted by Chris Berglund
» Cemeteries near west horsley, UK-N7 » Find museums in west horsley, UK-N7
Victorian Web Home —> Visual Arts —> Architecture —> Domestic Architecture — Homes for the Rich and Poor —> Next ]
Photographs and text by Jacqueline Banerjee , with additional comments by George P. Landow . [You may use the images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]
Horsley Towers is an unusual flint and brickwork country house, incongruously situated in the quiet Surrey village of East Horsley. It was originally a rather run-of-the-mill mansion in Tudor style, built mainly in the 1820s, for a wealthy banker, to the designs of Charles Barry . But in late 1844 or early 1845, it came into the hands of the great landowning family of the Lovelaces, whose country home at that point was in nearby Ockham. William King (1805-1893), who had become Earl of Lovelace in 1838, was a man of vision with a particular fascination for engineering. He saw the potential of his new acquisition, and spent a good part of his time here. After his first wife, Ada Lovelace , died in 1852, "Lord Lovelace travelled abroad for a time before returning and directing his architectural and engineering mind to his home at East Horsley..." (Tudsbury-Turner 12). Setting to work in about 1855, he indulged his newly formed, fashionable taste to an eccentric degree.
Left: Side view with two towers . Right: Conical towers . [Click on the images to enlarge them.]
Like much Victorian gothic, and much work by the ambitious amateur architects of the age, the building mixes many styles. The exterior has two different wall surfaces — the dominant flint and brickwork plus the smooth lighter stone of the two cylindrical elements on the main tower. This is probably intended to look like a castle keep, or at least to allude to one. Between them, the east and west towers seem distant relations — illegitimate offspring? — of French chateaux of the Loire Valley, or of the castles of the Rhine (see Nairn, Pevsner and Cherry 204); but, appropriately enough in an age of industrialism, they might equally well strike the visitor as looking more like factory chimneys. The windows, harking back to the house's origins earlier in the century, have far more in common with eighteenth-century than with medieval buildings. Looked at from a broader perspective, and showing how hard it is to place such a mixture of styles, a distant view of the Earl's creation, minus the towers, resembles buildings from the 1920s found on many American university campuses, including Princeton and Yale.
Left: Interior of chapel. Right: Closer view of the sweep of intricate tiling at the east end.
In complete contrast to the exterior is the lavish polychromy of the chapel. This can be reached via the cloisters which Lovelace added next. Highly ornate, with its blue and white tiling decorated with the Lovelace family's arms below the altar, and a memorial tablet to his first wife, the chapel was further embellished by an Italian artist who painted the spaces between the spandrels. Less obvious and even more unusual than its decorative features are its materials and the way the chapel is integrated into the estate:
The polychrome brick vaulting ribs were ridged with iron rods, and, as a further salute to the technological achievements of his age, the Earl used drainpipes to act as the columns supporting the vaulting over the chapel entrance. Meanwhile beneath the cloisters, he displayed his engineering skill in constructing a tunnel which passed under a section of the gardens to the west of the mansion. It connected with the servants' entrance in the courtyard surrounded by the cloisters, which in turn led to the back drive and the village, and was a feat of engineering of which Lord Lovelace must have been justifiably proud. [Tudsbury-Turner 10-11]
After this architectural romp, Lovelace, certainly "Surrey's most spectacular neo-Gothic architect" (Tudsbury-Turner 12), set to work on transforming the village, which acquired a distinctive character with more brick and flintwork, quite different in style from Surrey domestic architecture in general, which tyoically favours tile-hung façades. This helps just a little to alert the passer-by to the village's unique "great house." Lovelace also constructed attractive horseshoe bridges over gullies, to allow him to cut through the surrounding woods; ten of these still survive.
The house seems to have outlived some of the disapproval showered on it during the twentieth centry, when Julian of Norwich described it as "like nothing but itself, a grotesque Victorian Disneyland which has to be seen to be believed" (617). It has an added interest today, because of the connection with Ada Lovelace: although the couple had a London townhouse , they and their family were often in residence, "he absorbed in his duties as a landowner, she in literary and scientific pursuits" (Lovelace 165). These days, Horsley Towers, like so many surviving country houses in extensive grounds, functions as a "unique hotel and business retreat" (see De Vere Horsley Estate ).
Link to related material
- The English Country House, New and Improved
De Vere Horsely Estate . Web. 21 August 2022.
Lovelace, Mary Stuart Wortley, Countess of. Ralph, Earl of Lovelace; a memoir . London: Christophers, 1920. Internet Archive . Contributed by Robarts Library, University of Toronto. Web. 21 August 2022.
Nairn, Ian, and Nikolaus Pevsner. Surrey . Revised by Bridget Cherry. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin: 1971.
Norwich, John Julius. The Architecture of Southern England . London: Macmillan London, 1985.
Tudsbury-Turner, Stephen. "William, Earl of Lovelace, 1805-1893." Surrey Archaeological Collections . Vol. LXX (1974) — reprinted in a leaflet obtained at East Horsley Towers [JB].
Created 28 April 2007 Last modified 21 August 2022
Historical splendour - read about this renowned Surrey wedding venue
Horsley Towers has been one of managing editor Danielle Harvey's bucket list of Surrey venues to visit; so she jumped at the chance to spend some time at this renowned wedding venue... Few Surrey venues have quite the façade as that of exclusive-use wedding venue Horsley Towers. The widely used photography of the picturesque lake view with the towers in the background is simply enchanting, like something plucked straight from the pages of a fairytale. In real life, it's the definition of breathtaking as the Towers slowly come in to view as you approach via the driveway and pull up alongside the lake, eager to enter the historical property to see what awaits inside. The ancestral home to the Lovelace family, the Towers were bought by Lord Lovelace in the 1800s, he added the iconic Italian tower, the clock tower and Great Hall, and commissioned the cloisters and beautiful chapel for his wife Ada Byron. Its historic significance and impressive backdrop has been recognised by TV and film crews featuring in popular Netflix drama The Crown , BBC's Call the Midwife , and Disney's Through the Looking Glass . Visitors will certainly not be disappointed as the interior is all that you would expect, equally complementing the exterior in charm and aesthetic. Sympathetically refurbished, it retains many of its historical features, with furnishings synonymous with the De Vere hotel brand.
LORDS AND LADIES OF THE MANOR Of course, the exterior of Horsley Towers is picture-perfect, but inside the Victorian mansion, couples really are spoilt for choice with standout rooms perfect for nuptials. History buffs will adore the authentic 19th-centurysplendour of the Great Hall, which remains mainly untouched in its appearance boasting a beamed cantilever roof and trusses, oak-panelled walls, fireplace, and 150 coats of arms. The Minstrel's Gallery also gives a sweeping bird's eye view of the magnificent room and boasts a working organ. This traditional banqueting hall can host 110 loved ones for the ceremony and wedding breakfast. For those looking for a more elegant space with plenty of light and luxe furnishings, the Sopwith Suite is ideal. Still perfectly complementing the splendour of the Towers, this space is suitable for 120 guests for ceremonies and the wedding breakfast. When tying the knot here, there are three aptly named wedding breakfast packages, The Ada Byron, named after the daughter of the romantic poet Lord Byron who married Lord Lovelace; The Charles Barry the designer of the wonderful towers, and Lord Lovelace who bought the towers and lived there in the 1800s. Even the most discerning of food critics can delight in the ample cuisine choice with meat, fish, vegetarian and vegan options on offer. From delectable canapés to five-course sitdown set dinners, evening buffets, paellas and hog roasts, if that's not enough to whet your appetite and there's something else you're looking for, you can discuss with the team of chefs bespoke dining options. Post-vows and dining, The Charles Barry Room sits alongside the Towers Bar making it ideal for evening receptions for up to 250 loved ones. And after a day of true pomp and splendour, where better to rest your head at night than in one of the 28 en suite rooms comprising of the bridal suite, junior suites, family rooms and deluxe rooms. All refurbished to a high standard with comfort and luxury in mind. What's more, there are a further 152 rooms in Horsley Towers if you're having a truly grand affair.
- The cloisters and chapel – These breathtaking spaces provide themost romantic settings for photos and a quiet moment for the coupleto spend quality time together. Consider a blessing in the chapel for aceremony to remember.
- The grounds – There's ample space to utilise for summer weddingsincluding the terrace and croquet lawn.
- The all weekender option – Oh-so popular with modern couples, thevenue offers dinner the night before, breakfast the following morningand a 'girls night in' package.
- The grooms room – Not many venues cater so attentively to the mentoo, and the Grooms Room will be a hit with the gents complete withpool table, TVs, fridges and more!
- The cosy snugs – There are ample chairs, sofas and facilities for lovedones to spend quality time together.
- Toastmaster Steve Eggleton's history tour – Guests too can enjoythe history tour and Steve's absolutely charming, his passion for thevenue is infectious.
- The team! – There's not one person that truly wasn't a delight to dealwith so you can rest assured your wedding day is in safe hands.Special mention to general manager Michael Micallef, duty managerPeter Roche, wedding coordinator Kate Bransgrove, Guita, andeveryone else, thank you!
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A masterpiece of Victorian gothic architecture with a fascinating story to tell
Welcome to De Vere Reserve at Horsley Towers
In the heart of the Surrey countryside sits De Vere Horsley Estate - at the heart of which is Horsley Towers: an imposing Victorian fairytale castle of a manor house, where your De Vere Reserve experience awaits. Step through the towering oak doors to the warmest of welcomes. Having checked-in you can try and spot the secret door and take in the intriguing original features, up the imposing staircase to your De Vere Reserve deluxe bedroom or suite.
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Stay at Horsley Towers and you’ll be walking in the footsteps of some famous ex-residents. Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron lived at Horsley, where she spent much of her time writing the algorithm for the world’s first computer designed by Charles Babbage. In the early 20th-century, the property changed hands again: this time it was aviator Sir Thomas Sopwith, designer of the Sopwith Camel and Horsley Hawker aircraft. The scene is very much set before you even arrive for your stay.
Your De Vere Reserve experience is apparent inside and out. If you’d care to dine with us, the relaxed Steam, Bake and Grill restaurant in the nearby Horsley Place is a fine place to enjoy some local, seasonally inspired food. Let us know if you’d like a table and we’ll make sure you have the best in the house. If you intend to venture out during your stay, the likes of RHS Wisley and Grange Park Opera are a short drive away.
We look forward to welcoming you to Horsley Towers.
The De Vere Reserve experience
A story to tell
Find out more about Horsley Towers’ notable past, its striking architecture and the people who have lived there: from a computing pioneer to an aviation legend.
Wining and dining
Enjoy a drink in the atmospheric Horsley Towers bar or dine in the contemporary restaurant in Horsley Place. As a De Vere Reserve guest, you’ll get the best seats in the house.
Rooms and suites
The De Vere Reserve rooms and suites in Horsley Towers have been refurbished to reflect the heritage of the building and feature luxurious Penhaligon toiletries.
The Estate section
In the wider estate you’ll find the modern Horsley Place with a restaurant, bar and quiet, modern bedrooms. There are also gardens to explore and lakes to admire, with photo opportunities around every corner.
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Ockham Road South, East Horsley, KT24 6DT
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Moscow artists participate in the Shanghai Biennale
The Ninth Contemporary Art Biennale has opened in Shanghai. Three Moscow artists participate in the Biennale with the "Huanted Moscow" exhibition. Source: Tim Wong
Unlike the Venice Biennale , this year’s event in China showcases specialized pavilions dedicated to specific cities, rather than to countries. The Shanghai show features exhibitions from Moscow, Barcelona, Antwerp, Dusseldorf, Mumbai, Dakar, Detroit, Istanbul, Sao Paulo, Lima, Palermo and many others.
The Moscow pavilion houses an exhibition called “Haunted Moscow,” where the work of three Moscow artists will be on show.
Andrei Filippov has two pieces on display. The first piece, entitled "The Power Vertical" and depicting small guillotines mounted on easels, illustrates the artist’s ongoing fascination with the past reflected in the future and the concept of Moscow as the Third Rome. The theme of revolution is also clearly present in the work, symbolized by the guillotine.
His second piece, "Rolling Blackout", is related to religion – mechanical fans open and close to either reveal or conceal lights; on the fans an angel’s hand is displayed holding a message on a scroll.
“Fillipov firmly believes that Russia’s history can only exist in the context of the Byzantine cultural tradition. Even so, by introducing the metaphor of the revolutionary past, he underlines how the model of the Byzantine Empire in the Russian consciousness is forever linked to the Soviet model of empire,” a staffer at the organizing Stella Art Gallery told RIA Novosti.
Russian artist Dmitry Gutov created a large installation especially for the Biennale, based on his Lifshitz Institute project.
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“The institute is dedicated to the outstanding philosopher Mikhail Lifshitz – a figure who had been entirely ignored until the end of the perestroika era, which is when I began to study his work. He mostly wrote about Marx and Lenin and spoke out against contemporary art. Here in Shanghai, I’m exhibiting a cross-section of his research. There are 27 stands, each of which is dedicated to some particular aspect of Lifshitz’s work, biography or art,” Gutov told RBTH.
“His work remains relevant today. When the cracks began to appear in the Soviet regime – the project opens at the end of the 1980s – it was clear that a huge retrograde movement that tended toward reaction, reactionary obscurantism and everything that we are now experiencing today was beginning.
“All our understandings were seriously distorted during the Soviet era. The delight in religion taken by the intelligentsia was thought to be a progressive development – practically a struggle for freedom. From my youth, I personally believed it to be something unnatural. But I saw people’s interest in Marxism as a conduit leading to the future. Today we stand once more at the origin, and everything comes into place. Political reaction is united with obscurantist reaction, and everything assumes a visible shape. And Marxism is becoming what it should always have been – a struggle for human freedom.”
The third artist at the Moscow pavilion is Anatoly Osmolovsky. The Stella Art Gallery is exhibiting one of his older pieces, Products, which dates back to 2006. His is a collection of bronze cast models of tank towers from every country where tanks are in production. In addition, Osmolovsky has brought some of his students’ portfolios to Shanghai.
This is all because one of the main credos of the Shanghai Biennale is re-education.
Gutov tells his pupils – and anyone else who wants to know – about Lifshitz, while Osmolovsky has been giving lectures and running practical courses about contemporary art at his training center for many years. Osmolovsky asked his students to create works that would fit into suitcases. One suitcase is tightly closed and voices can be heard coming out of it. Another suitcase is like Russian stacking dolls (called matryoshka); inside it is a smaller suitcase, and then a smaller one inside that, and so on. Another suitcase is stickered with memories.
Originally, four Moscow artists were supposed to be participating in the exhibition, but one of them – Yuri Albert – fell victim to Chinese censorship.
The censors spent a great deal of time looking over his work before the show opened and listed two faults against the artist’s piece, which earned Albert artist of the year honors at the Kandinsky Awards last year.
Albert’s Moscow Poll piece consists of a ballot with two questions: “Is the fact that none of the selected Russian artists protested about the war in Georgia a basis for changing your opinions about contemporary art?” and “Is the quality of contemporary Russian art affected by increased censorship and self-censorship?”
Such questions were most unwelcome to the Chinese censors, and they demanded that they be removed from the exhibition. The curators of the show tried to persuade them against this, citing the Kandinsky Prize as evidence that these questions were not a reference to China – but all to no avail. Albert himself refused to attend a meeting with the censors, and did not participate in the Biennale.
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