3. Northamptonshire Thursday 8 June

Deene Park, Corby – Mr and Mrs Robert Brudenell

The main drive to Deene Park, turns off the busy road from Corby, and winds serenely through the gently rolling park, until, at exactly the right point just before the lake, the house comes into sight. Turreted and gabled in soft mellow limestone, it has grown organically over six hundred years. For centuries Deene belonged to Westminster Abbey, who in 1514 leased it to Sir Robert Brudenell. Remarkably the Brudenells continued as tenants until they bought the house from the Church Commissioners in 1970.

The house comprises layer upon layer of architectural history, as generations of Brudenells added to and embellished it, from the 14th century doorway in the Billiard Room through to the chapel, which was completed in the 1970s. Fortunately Charlotte Brudenell, the current châtelaine, is an expert on the history of both the house and family and she will guide us from the Great Hall of the 1570s, with its hammer beam roof, built to entertain Queen Elizabeth on her progress to Burleigh, through the Tapestry Room with its fine Jacobean ceiling, to the Regency White Hall, Bow Room and Drawing Room.

The garden too reflects the changing tastes of different generations. Rectangular pools and formal canals were gradually transformed in the 18th century into a lake crossed by an elegantly balustraded bridge. The parterre on the south side of the house dates from the 19th century, but was completely redesigned by David Hicks in 1990 for Marian Brudenell. The Chinese Bridges, the Long Border and the White garden also date from this time.

Deene has been a family home for generations and emphatically remains one today. A great deal of its charm lies in this sense of enthusiastic permanence and determination to continue to add to the house and its collections.

As we are having lunch in the house at the kind invitation of Charlotte and Robert Brudenell, numbers on this day are restricted to a maximum of 20 people.