The South Sights

Wilton House

  • Off A36 Map It
  • Wilton
  • Castle/Palace/Chateau
  • Fodor's Choice

Published 08/18/2015

Fodor's Review

This is considered to be one of the loveliest stately homes in England and, along with its grounds, a fine example of the English Palladian style. The seat of the earls of Pembroke since Tudor times, the south wing of the current building was rebuilt in the early 17th century by Isaac de Caus, with input from Inigo Jones, Ben Jonson's stage designer and the architect of London's Banqueting House. It was completed by James Webb, again with input from Jones, Webb's uncle-by-marriage, after the recently finished south wing was ravaged by fire in 1647. Most noteworthy are the seven state rooms in the south wing, among them the Single Cube Room (built as a perfect 30-foot cube) and one of the most extravagantly beautiful rooms in the history of interior decoration, the aptly named Double Cube Room. The name refers to its proportions (60 feet long by 30 feet wide and 30 feet high), evidence of Jones's classically inspired belief that beauty in architecture derives from harmony and balance.

The room's headliner is the spectacular Van Dyck portrait of the Pembroke family. Elsewhere at Wilton House, the art collection includes several other old master paintings, including works by Rembrandt and members of the Brueghel family. Another exhibition is devoted to Cecil Beaton's photo portraits of 20th-century notables and the current Lord Pembroke's collection of classic cars. Also of note are the lovely grounds, which have sweeping lawns dotted with towering oaks; the gardens; and the Palladian bridge crossing the small River Nadder, designed by the 9th earl after the Rialto Bridge in Venice. Some public rooms may be closed on some open days—check website for more information. Be sure to explore the extensive gardens; children appreciate the large playground. The town of Wilton is 3 miles west of Salisbury. Buses 2, 13, 25, 26, 27, and Red 3 from Salisbury depart every 10 to 15 minutes and stop outside Wilton House.

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Sight Information

Address:

Off A36, Wilton, SP2 0BJ, England

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Phone:

01722-746714

Sight Details:

  • £16; grounds only £6.50
  • House Easter and May–Aug., Sun.–Thurs. and holiday Saturdays 11:30–5. Grounds late Mar.–mid-Apr. and May–mid-Sept., Sun.–Thurs. and holiday Saturdays 11–5:30
  • On "quieter days," admission to house by 40-min guided tour only.

Published 08/18/2015

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