6 ISSUES FOR JUST £6 Subscribe to Somerset Life today CLICK HERE

Brympton dEvercy The Historic Somerset Stately. Sarah Ford meets the new owners with a bright future

12:32 26 January 2010

Brympton d

Brympton d'Evercy's magnificent south front

Join Sarah Ford as she steps through the doors of Brympton d'Evercy, an extraordinary Somerset stately residence with new owners and a bright future. Photos by Katia Marsh.

Join Sarah Ford as she steps through the doors of Brympton d'Evercy, an extraordinary Somerset stately residence with new owners and a bright future. Photos by Katia Marsh.


Tucked away on the outskirts of Yeovil, near the Ham stone village of Odcombe, is one of Somerset's most historic houses. The glorious Grade I Listed Brympton d'Evercy - once described by the architectural historian Christopher Hussey as 'the most beautiful house in England' - has been closed to general public view since the Clive-Ponsonby-Fanes ended their 400-year-old connection with the place.

Although it has provided a sumptuous film location for movies such as Chocolat and Restoration, much work now needs to be done on the house so that more of us might enjoy this Somerset gem.

The woman behind the mission of reawakening this sleeping beauty is former head teacher Sarah Glossop. She and Lily-Rose, one of her two Siamese cats, greet me at the door. Once Lily-Rose is comfortably settled on my lap, Sarah pours some tea and admits that she and the family were meant to be downsizing.

"We had a house in Derbyshire called Middleton Hall, which we had been running as a wedding venue. My husband, Bill, loves old houses and the one we moved from dates back to 1680. We were planning to buy a retirement cottage but when we saw this we just fell in love with it. So the long and short of it is, we are not retiring from weddings!"

Brympton d'Evercy's history goes back to 1220 when the d'Evercy family bought the land. The West Front of the main house is a fine example of Tudor design, while the south front dates from 1680. Set in 33 acres of parkland and gardens (believed to have been laid out with the help of Gertrude Jekyll), the collection of buildings includes the Priest House, the parish church and the Dower House. The latter dates back to 1350 and is a rare example of an untouched early medieval manor house. It is a Listed historical monument and is licensed for civil-wedding ceremonies.

I step inside, soaking up the special atmosphere of this rare building with its views of the lake and contemplate its miraculous survival. During its history, the property has been owned by only four families before its new owners moved in last October. Part of Sarah's vision is to see Brympton d'Evercy become another Babbington House, the fashionable country club and hotel near Frome.

There's a major amount of repair work needed first - woodworm-riddled oak floorboards in the main house, dating from around 1580, have recently had to be removed, for instance. "We have to address some pressing conservation issues. I think it's a great big challenge," says a determined Sarah. Straight-talking hotelier Ruth Watson has already offered her advice, which we will be able to catch on a forthcoming edition of Channel 4's Country House Rescue.

"We are looking at ways that other parts of the house can support the restoration, so one idea is a Victorian kitchen garden and residential garden courses," says Sarah. "This will provide local employment as well as educating people in Victorian garden skills which might otherwise be lost."

More than 20 'relaxed, informal and fun' weddings will take place at Brympton this year and 15 are already booked in for 2010. Church weddings can take place in St Andrew's in the grounds; the grand ballroom provides enough seating for 200 and the Orangery is ideal for dancing. "We have an excess of space here," says Sarah, leading me downstairs via the oldest continuous wooden staircase in England.

A primary-trained teacher and Ofsted inspector, Sarah also has plans for Brympton's cricket pavilion. She will be opening a children's nursery school here, in the most idyllic spot you can imagine. It will run alongside the local parent and toddler group - something which the new family had not expected.

"One day after we moved in, these cars suddenly arrived on the driveway and all these mothers and children got out!" Sarah laughs. It's important to her that the local community gets to appreciate Brympton, which was let to Clare School for several years. "The school was obviously not interested in troops of visitors. Mr Charles Clive-Ponsonby-Fane tried to open it up as a stately home - and it received 29,000 visitors. But there are a couple of generations who are not that familiar with it."

Sarah and Bill feared that their four children, the youngest of whom is 17, would not be so taken with the place. "I thought they would hate it because we had been talking about buying a country cottage near the sea, but they all loved it. There's just something about Brympton d'Evercy that grabs people."

From July, Brympton d'Evercy will be hosting open gardens and cricket matches. 01935 862528; http://www.brympton-weddings.co.uk.


0 comments

More from Out & About

Friday, August 26, 2016

Whether you want to glam it up in the city or retreat to a yurt in the countryside, we have weekend breaks to help you relax

Read more
Friday, August 26, 2016
Benal Eagle Owl Nadi. Photo: Rod Smith

Rachael Sharpe heads to Exmoor Owl & Hawk Centre and discovers a kind, natural way of working with animals

Read more
Friday, August 26, 2016
Enjoy delicious homemade cakes at Cole Manor Tea Rooms

Although it may be smaller than some towns, Bruton has a big appetite when it comes to food

Read more
Monday, August 22, 2016
The red sandstone church of Bishops Lydeard which dates from 1450

Giles Belbin takes a return ride from the county town via Bishops Llydeard and the beautiful Blackdowns

Read more
Monday, August 15, 2016
Rhododendrons near County Gate

To mark the release of a book celebrating the history of the South West Coast Path, author Ruth Luckhurst shares top 10 secrets along the route

Read more
Thursday, August 4, 2016
Vicars' Close is claimed to be the oldest residential street in Europe

Sarah Ford takes a walk through the historic streets of the smallest city in England

Read more
Friday, July 22, 2016
River Avon and Pultney Bridge. Photo csfotoimages / Thinkstock

From sipping Champagne overlooking the city to exploring 100 years of fashion, here’s Phoebe Cleghorn’s guide to how to spend the summer in Bath

Read more
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Cyclist descending Cheddar Gorge

In the first in a series of cycle rides, Giles Belbin explores cathedrals, caves and kings on this 30 mile route, starting and finishing in Somerset’s wonderful small city

Read more
Friday, July 8, 2016
Got my eye on you

Ed Rouse looks at how we can protect our prickly pest controllers - the nation’s favourite species

Read more
Friday, July 8, 2016
The view towards Wellington Monument from north of Milverton

The Blackdown Hills AONB is 25 years old this year and there’s something for everyone in its exciting Countryside Events programme

Read more
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
360 degree view

As one of Jane Austen’s heroine’s once said: “Oh, who can ever be tired of Bath?”

Read more
Monday, June 27, 2016
The courtship ritual begins with head twisting

Wildlife photographer Michael Taylor tells us how the great crested grebe was saved from extinction and can now be seen on Somerset reserves

Read more
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
The town is home to a wide variety of businesses housed in buildings full of character

This busy town on the Somerset Levels is gearing up for its season of celebrations

Read more
Thursday, June 9, 2016
Take a trip on the East Somerset Railway

Mark G Whitchurch has a great family day out on this month’s Great Drive

Read more


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

subscription ad
Somerset Life Application Link

Local Business Directory

Somerset's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search