The house was built between 1776 and 1783 for Sir Francis Sykes. It was never completed and had several owners. In 1914, it was requisitioned by the British Government as an army convalescent hospital. In the late 20’s, the current owners attempted to dismantle the house for it to be rebuilt in the U.S. but this was swiftly abandoned. During World War II, the house was again requisitioned and served as a barracks, a training ground for tanks, and finally a prisoner of war camp. It was purchased by Lord and Lady Iliffe in 1952 and Lady Iliffe in particular set about restoring the grand old country house to its former glory, employing local builders and tradesmen. It remained her home until her death in August 2007 aged 90 when it was then donated to The National Trust.
If you’re visiting with children they have something called The Great Ball Run. You purchase a pack from Reception for £3 which includes a drawstring bag, a tennis ball, map etc. They have different ball runs – think oversized marble runs – set up along the woodland walks in the grounds. You can play in teams, race one another, or compete against other visitors. I’d recommend you mark your tennis ball with a Sharpie pen as it can be difficult to differentiate.
Great for kids of all ages (I include my husband in this category).
Click here to see my post about Lady Iliffe’s beautiful rose garden at Basildon Park.