Writing about an organisation I am now involved in may make me a bit biased, but I want people to know about this place as until recently I had no idea it existed.
Sulgrave Manor is a Tudor manor house built in 1539 that owes its survival to the fact it was built by the Washington family whose direct descendant George Washington went on to be commander-in-chief in the American War of Independence and the first President of the United States of America.
Lawrence Washington built the house on the land he purchased after Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. On the approach to the house you can see the Washington coat of arms (stars and stripes no less!) and the royal insignia of Henry VIII’s daughter Queen Elizabeth I, showing off how the family were in favour with this illustrious monarch.
But it was in a later generation that the family’s royalist convictions during the English Civil War would lead to the family’s ruin and force John Washington to seek his fortune in trans-Atlantic trade. When this trade was cut short by a shipwreck on the wrong side of the Atlantic John stayed in Virginia and this accident led to his great-grandson George Washington founding a new nation.
All very interesting stuff! And the Tudor great hall with authentic Tudor furniture (although not original to the house) and Georgian kitchen make this story come to life as you step back into the past through the doorway of George Washington’s ancestors into their home and the roots of our Anglo-American relationship.
Like I said, I’m biased, but its well worth a trip into the Northamptonshire countryside to see a heritage site that tells a unique story and is today held in trust for the people of the UK and America. There are also gardens, an orchard and tea room on site and even a cute village pub opposite that’s not to be missed either.
Admission – £7.90
Open Sat and Sun 11am-4pm from April to the end of October
Sulgrave is about an hour and a half north of London, near Banbury.