About Tyntesfield House
Tyntesfield is a Victorian Gothic revival style house, just outside Bristol, United Kingdom. It was bought by the National Trust in 2002, and the house and gardens have been open to visitors ever since.
The house gets its name from the Tynte family, who originally owned the land it was built on. In 1843, William Gibbs, a businessman who had made a fortune importing guano (seabird excrement) as fertiliser, bought the house and surrounding land. The trade in guano, the extraction of which was often exploitative and brutal for labourers, made William was the richest non-noble man in England.
Although he and his family were primarily London based, he travelled to Bristol for business frequently and decided he needed a base near the city.
Gibbs quickly renamed the site to Tyntesfield, and began a major building programme on the existing mansion house, mainly based around a neo Gothic style. The Gibbs family were Anglo-Catholics and believed that buildings with a Medieval, ecclesiastical air to them were a reflection of devotion and beliefs. The architect, John Norton, based his work heavily on that of Augustus Pugin, a well-known Gothic revivalist.
The exterior and interior of Tyntesfield have a kind of church like feel: the exterior has pinnacles, crenelated towers and oriel windows, whilst the interior makes us of mosaics, stained glass and ornate ironwork.
Gibbs later bought to neighbouring properties to create a farming estate: and its peak, the Tyntesfield estate covered roughly 6000 acres and employed well over 50 people.
The estate passed down the Gibbs family on William’s death: going first to his oldest son, who installed electricity in the property, then onto his son George, Baron Wraxall, and later his widow Ursula. The house was used by Clifton High School and the US Army Medical Corps during WWII.
The last Baron Wraxall, William Gibbs’ great-grandson, died in 2001: he never married and lived alone in just 3 of Tyntesfield’s rooms. After a major campaign, the National Trust bought the central part of the Tyntesfield in 2002 and immediately embarked on a project to stabilise its deterioration. The house remains one of the first examples of visitors being allowed to visit whilst major conservation work was being undertaken.
The site is owned by the National Trust and makes for an excellent day out from Bristol. The interiors of Tyntesfield have been used in several films and TV shows: you might recognise the main entrance and staircase.
The way out of the house takes you through the rooms the last owner lived in: they remain in a state of disrepair and decay out of active choice, and the contrast between them and the rest of the house is extremely marked. It stands as a good reminder as to how much work goes into the restoration and upkeep of historic houses.
The eccentrically ornate chapel is also worth a visit: completed in 1975, it’s modelled on Sainte Chapelle in Paris.
Outside the house, the kitchen garden is a delight (see what seasonal fruit & veg you can spot growing), and the formal gardens are one of the highlights too. Beyond this, the Trust owns around 500 acres of estate, and there are numerous walks in woodland and parkland to enjoy.
There is a café/restaurant, shop, bookshop and toilet facilities at the entrance.
Getting to Tyntesfield
Tyntesfield is most easily accessed by car: it lies between Weston super Mare and Bristol. Entrance is via the gatehouse just off the B3128 and is signposted. There is ample paid parking (free for NT members).
Buses running between Bristol and Clevedon also stop nearby.