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 19th 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.