'A splendid example of the English manor house at its most evocative' Country Life
'The gatehouse is an Elizabethan gem' Simon Jenkins, England's Thousand Best Houses
‘A remarkable Tudor house of brick’ Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England
'One of the finest Tudor houses in Britain' Shropshire Magazine
'One of the most interesting group of buildings I have ever seen' Duke of Grafton, SPAB
'A remote and beautiful place' Sir John Betjeman, former Poet Laureate
Upton Cressett Hall is a Grade 1 moated Elizabethan brick manor with a spectacular 14th original Great Hall set in an unspoilt and romantic landscape near the Shropshire market town of Bridgnorth. Over its remarkable history, dating back to the 12th century, it has hosted such historic figures as young King Edward V (the eldest 'Prince in the Tower') on his way to the Tower; Prince Rupert of the Rhine during the Civil War, and Baroness Thatcher, after which her bedroom in The Gatehouse is now named.
Within the ancient settlement are a fine Norman church, a medieval ornamental water garden with fish ponds and moat, a Deserted Medieval Village and a Roman Site, regarded as one of the most important in the Midlands outside Wroxeter.
The ancient hamlet of Upton Cressett includes three Grade 1 listed buildings and three Scheduled Ancient Monuments making it one of the most heavily protected heritage sites in the Midlands. The house has long been admired by architectural critics including Nikolaus Pevsner, John Betjeman and Simon Jenkins, who included Upton Cressett in his acclaimed 'England's Thousand Best Houses', describing the Gatehouse as an ‘Elizabethan gem’.
The manor was the historic home of the Cressett family for centuries, before Bill Cash MP and his family began living there in 1970. The Cressett family were important royalists with Francis Cressett being Treasurer to Charles I and a trusted secret agent and messenger of the King during the Civil War. He appears in Pepys' diaries and led the King's escape attempt from Carisbrooke Castle in 1648.
The Hall and gardens have been open to the public, and for group visits for tea, since the 1970s. The Hall contains a notable collection of art and furniture, including 17th century portraits of Prince Rupert, Charles I, Charles II and Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales and modern works by such artists as Henri-Edmond Cross, Derain and Howard Hodgkin. The acclaimed series of revivalist Elizabethan murals and ceiling paintings by Adam Dant (winner of the Jerwood Prize) are now included by English Heritage as part of the Grade 1 listing of the Hall. Country Life described Dant's work at Upton Cressett as 'bold and daring'.
The property is also available for events, concerts and filming. Productions filmed at Upton Cressett include the BBC's Old Curiosity Shop and Much Ado About Nothing was performed on the Moat Lawn to mark the re-opening of the Hall in 2011 after a period of restoration after Bill and Biddy Cash passed on the Hall to their son William, author and founder of Spear's magazine (www.spearswms.com).
Upton Cressett Hall was named the winner of 'Hidden Gem' at the 2011 Hudson's Heritage Awards, the Oscars of the heritage world (see Press and blog) recognising 'The Nation's Finest Heritage'. The two year restoration of Upton Cressett was featured over four pages in Country Life and was the cover story of the October 2011 issue of Shropshire Magazine. In the article, editor Neil Thomas, describes Upton Cressett as 'one of the finest Tudor houses in the Britain and a true Shropshire gem'.
The Gatehouse is available for luxury mini-breaks and private let. Featuring two octagonal turrets, thick Tudor brick walls, an oak carved spiral staircase, and rare sixteenth century ornamental plasterwork, as well as all modern comforts, the Gatehouse is one of England's most secluded and luxuriously appointed romantic hideaways. The Gatehouse has been nominated for 'Best Accomodation' at the Hudson's Heritage Awards.
Prince Rupert of the Rhine took refuge in the Gatehouse in the Civil War whilst escaping the Parliamentary army. Others who have stayed or visited Upton Cressett throughout its colourful and romantic history include King Edward V, Charles I, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Boris Johnson, Sir John Betjeman, John Piper, 20th century country house diarist James Lees-Milne, novelist Sebastian Faulks and Elizabeth Hurley.
The Gatehouse is also used by the Upton Cressett Foundation, a writers' retreat for novelists, academics, playwrights, biographers and historians to shut themselves away for up to six weeks - by invitation - to make creative progress with a project in a quiet and uniquely remote historic setting. Often compared to the Tower at Sissinghurst, where Vita Sackville-West built her library and wrote her many books, the Gatehouse has an inspirational environment.
Any visitor to Upton Cressett must also stop by the beautiful Grade 1 Norman Church of St Michael, which has stood beside the Hall since the 11th century. It is maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust and is open every day of the year with free entry.