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Greys Court, Oxfordshire, England

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  • Sir John de Grey, III, 3rd Baron Grey of Rotherfield (aft.1316 - 1375)
    De GREY (3° B. Grey of Rotherfield) John De GREY (3° B. Grey of Rotherfield) Born: 1319, Rotherfield, Oxfordshire, England Died: 4 Jun 1375 Buried: St. James, Bishop's Cannings, Wiltshire, Engl...
  • Alice Deincourt (1404 - 1474)
    Francis Lovell, 9th Baron Lovell, 6th Baron Holand, later 1st Viscount Lovell (1454 - after 1488) was an English nobleman. He probably knew the later King Richard III of England from a young age, and w...
  • William Lovell, Kt. (c.1397 - 1455)
    William Lovel, 7th Lord (Baron) Lovel (of Titchmarsh) and on his grandmother's death 4th Lord (Baron) Holand, JP (1441); b. 1397; Constable of Wallingford Castle 1450; m. by 31 Aug 1422, as her 1st hus...
  • Joan Deincourt (1386 - 1408)
    Joan GREY (B. Deincourt) Born: Jul 1386 Died: 20 Nov 1408 Notes: her daughter , Alice, married William, Lord Lovell in 1422 and inherited Greys from her mother . Alice died in 1455 and with her s...

Greys Court, Oxfordshire, England

Greys Court is a Tudor country house and associated gardens, located at grid reference SU725834, at the southern end of the Chiltern Hills at Rotherfield Greys, near Henley-on-Thames in the English county of Oxfordshire. It is owned by the National Trust and is open to the public.

The name derives from an old connection to the Grey family, descendants of the Norman knight Anchetil de Greye. The estate or manor of Rotherfield Greys upon which Greys Court is situated is specifically mentioned in the Domesday Book.[where?]

The mainly Tudor-style house has a courtyard and gardens. The walled gardens contain old-fashioned roses and wisteria, an ornamental vegetable garden, maze (laid to grass with brick paths, dedicated by Archbishop Robert Runcie on 12 October 1981) and ice house. Within the gardens is a medieval fortified tower of 1347, the only remains of the previous castle, overlooking the gardens and surrounding countryside. Also within the gardens is a Tudor wheelhouse, where a donkey operated a treadmill to haul water from a well.[citation needed]

The house is furnished as a family home, with some outstanding 18th-century plasterwork interiors. In 1937 the house was bought by Sir Felix Brunner and his wife Lady Elizabeth Brunner, the granddaughter of the Victorian actor-manager Henry Irving. In 1969 they donated the property to the National Trust, with the family continuing to live in the house until the death of Lady Brunner in 2003.

Early years

  • 1086: Greys Court listed in the Domesday Book
  • 1346: granted 'licence to crenellate' for Sir John de Grey
  • 1387: Robert, 5th Baron de Grey commemorated by magnificent brass
  • 1387: inherited by Joan de Grey and passed to Lovells by marriage
  • 1450: timber-framed wing added to mansion house
  • 1485: Francis Lovell fought against Henry VII, Greys Court confiscated

There has been something on the site at Greys Court since the Domesday Book. But the earliest surviving fabric above ground is part of the great tower, dated to the late 11th or early 12th century.

In the early 13th century the estate belonged to Walter de Grey, Archbishop of York. But it was his nephew, the 1st Baron de Grey, John, who was responsible for fortifying the mansion and surrounding buildings.

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The golden age

Robert Knollys and his wife Lettice were granted Greys Court by Henry VII in 1514. Their son Sir Francis was a devout Protestant who spent the years of Mary Tudor's reign abroad. His wife Catherine Carey was cousin of Elizabeth I, and on her accession he was appointed to her Privy Council. In 1586 he was given the sensitive role of guarding Mary Queen of Scots.

In the hope that Elizabeth would visit Greys Court he demolished the medieval building and rebuilt it as a fashionable courtier's house. Despite all efforts the Queen never visited.

Time of romance

  • 1724: Greys Court passed to Sir William Stapleton by marriage
  • 1765: Sir Thomas Stapleton and Mary Fane marry
  • 1788: Greys became dower house for Lady Stapleton
  • 1835: passed to Sir Thomas's unmarried sisters,Maria and Catherine
  • 1874: Sir Francis Stapleton inherited; billiard room and porch added
  • 1933: Greys Court advertised for sale in Country Life for £12,000

Sir William Stapleton's family's wealth came from sugar plantations in Antigua and Nevis. His son, Sir Thomas, succeeded his father at the age of 12. He enjoyed a raucous and dissolute youth with his cousin Sir Francis Dashwood, founder of the Hell-Fire Club.

With his marriage to Mary Fane in 1765 came renovations to the house in the romantic style. Elaborate plasterwork decoration was added to the house, a gothick dairy built and the ruins built into the garden walls.

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Up to date

  • 1935: Mrs Evelyn Fleming bought and 'modernised' the house
  • 1937: Sir Felix and Lady Brunner bought Greys Court
  • 1969: Brunners gift the 280 acres and buildings to us
  • 2003: Lady Brunner died, Sir Felix having passed away in 1982
  • 2006: the start of a major conservation building work project (£2.4m)
  • 2010: house reopened after two years' closure

Mrs Evelyn Fleming was widow of Valentine Fleming of the Scottish banking family, and mother to Ian, creator of James Bond. She owned Greys Court for just two years and in that short period modernised the services and stripped out the Victorian additions.

When they bought the property in 1937, the Brunners made further changes to make Greys a comfortable family home. Sir Felix's Liberal roots and Lady Brunner's theatrical background made them at ease with visitors. They were keen to share this delightful house, garden and wider estate with the public.

National Trust-Greys Court History

Wikipedia-Greys Court

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