Walking down this very steep driveway leads to a valley that was once known as Deorham, an Anglo Saxon place name given to what is now called Dyrham.
The Battle of Deorham was fought here in AD 577 between the West Saxons under Ceawlin and his son Cuthwine, and the Britons of the West Country. The outcome of the battle was a decisive win for the West Saxons, allowing them to colonise three important cities - Glenvum (Gloucester), Corinium (Cirencester), and Aquae Sulis (Bath). Losing these three major cities was a huge blow to the Romano British.
During the 17th century, Sir George Wynter, owned a deer park here, a farm and a Tudor manor house, but as he neared the end of his life he was suffering severe financial difficulties. However, his daughter Mary, who was his heiress, married William Blathwayte, and he took over the estate following the death of her father in 1689. William was the Secretary at War to William lll (William of Orange) and as a result of his strong royal connections, Blathwayte filled Dyrham with furniture, delftware and fine pictures that had a strong Dutch influence. The collection, which is still within the house, includes several very large delftware tulip vases which were designed and made during the period referred to as 'tulip mania'.
vase courtesy V&A tulips added by Rosemary
It's a long steep walk down into the valley but well worth the effort.
The fine 17th century baroque house seen today was designed for William Blathwayte by William Talman, who was also the architect of Chatsworth House. However, interestingly, the house still retains much of its Tudor origins hidden away at its core.
Almost hidden from view on the lefthand side of the house is a very attractive attached Orangery and,
on the righthand side, but within the grounds, is the local parish church.
Both the house and the church are Grade 1 listed.
The church and this western view of the house would have been the first sight that visiting guests would have seen as they arrived at Dyrham. The west side of the house was designed by a different architect, a relatively obscure Huguenot named Samuel Hauduroy, completed in 1694.