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Farnborough Hall

©NTPL/Matthew Antrobus

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Farnborough Hall was acquired by the Holbech family in 1684, and the honey-coloured, Grade I listed, two-storey mansion was built shortly after that. However most of the spectacular interiors which can be seen today were fashioned by grandson, William Holbech the Younger, between 1745 and 1750.

William returned from his Grand Tour laden with some of Europe's finest treasures. He needed somewhere fitting to put his four large canvases of Venice by Canaletto, the two landscapes of Rome by Panini and other breathtaking sculptures and collectibles. He enlisted the help of his friend Sanderson Miller, a local architect, and together they made a fitting home for these wonderful artworks.

Long Palladian facades with sash windows were added to the classical west front,
©NTPL/Angelo Hornak
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pedimented doorways and a roofline balustrade shows the European influence. The rococo plasterwork remains much as it was designed by William Perritt more than 200 years ago. His bill is part of the family archives at Farnborough Hall.

The entrance to the hall leads into the stunning Italianate hall with busts of Roman Emperors gracing each oval niche. The white-on-white plasterwork ceilings are considered some of the finest in England. The marble floor, elegant carved firplace and antique furnishings make this a wonderful room to linger in.

The dining room at Farnborough Hall now displays replicas of the priceless Canaletto and Panini paintings which the room was designed for.

More superb stuccowork can be enjoyed in the drawing room. A laden cornucopia of fruit and flowers overhangs the wall mirror between the windows and William Holbech's sporting and musical interests are shown in violins, guns and even his hunting dogs in fine detail.

The extensive landscaped gardens similarly remain just as they were in the 1740s, the main
©NTPL/Nick Meers
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attractions being the eye-catchers - classical temples dotted around the landscape at strategic points. One of the pavilions has a gloriously decorated interior and the circular floor is surrounded by small wooden benches. It is decorated in shades of apple green with rich rococo plasterwork, including the dome.

At the front of the hall the landscape rolls down to a long ornamental lake in the valley and a grassy terrace runs for 1.2 km along a ridge hedged with laurel, wide enough for two horse-drawn carriages to pass. It is adorned with Sanderson Miller's eye-catchers: a pedimented Ionic temple; a two-storey domed pavilion with a curving staircase, and an obelisk, sadly defaced by Italian prisoners when the hall was used as a military hospital during World War II.

The grassy walks through the landscaped parkland is flanked with established trees and has excellent views of the Warwickshire plain

Farnborough Hall was donated to The National Trust in 1960 and the Holbech family continues to live there.

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6 miles north of Banbury, ½ mile west of A423.

View local cycle routes on the National Cycle Network website

Ordnance survey reference:

Farnborough Hall Postcode for SatNav: OX17 1DU


+44 (0)1295 690 002

near Banbury
OX17 1DU

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