About Chastleton House
Chastleton House is a Jacobean country house that presents a time capsule of 400 years of family life.
Chastleton House history
Walter Jones was the first owner of Chastleton House. The land and the previous house that stood here had been owned by Robert Catesby, leader of the Gunpowder Plot.
Chastleton House was built between 1607 and 1612 as an impressive statement of Jones’s wealth and power as a prosperous wool merchant. Since construction started in 1607, Chastleton House was passed down through branches of the Jones family, before coming to the National Trust in 1991.
The house has an important role in the history of games and leisure, as it was where the rules of croquet were first codified. Walter Whitmore Jones, the owner of the house at the time, had worked for the U.K. Government’s War Office, before focusing attention on various games projects. The first recorded mention of croquet is in 1856, but it is thought to have precursors that date much further back in time.
First published in the magazine The Field in 1866, Jones’s standardized rules were quickly embraced, and led to the establishment of the All England Croquet Club in 1868, with the first competitive match held two years later. Croquet went on to be played at the summer Olympics of 1900 and 1904 (the latter as Roque, an American variation).
The design reflects the fashion of the time for tall, compact outward-looking houses. The south front of Chastleton is a superb example of Jacobean architecture with its advancing and receding planes of staircase towers and flanking bays, its counterpoint of differing window levels and its increasing ratio of glass to wall at the centre of the house. Inside, the decoration of the Great Chamber is the most lavish in the house with ornate panelling, a complex frieze and a ceiling moulded in high relief. The Jones family became increasingly impoverished after the Civil War; their genteel poverty served to protect the house from change, and their deep attachment to it ensured it stayed in the family until 1991 when it passed to the National Trust.
Chastleton House today
Visitors today can stroll through the beautiful Jacobean garden, spot the 400 year old tree, find the kitchen garden and count the topiary in the Best Garden.
Getting to Chastleton House
The house is located in Chastleton, next to the town of Moreton-in-Marsh in Oxfordshire. The nearest train station is Moreton-in-Marsh which is 4 miles away.