We were heading to the Midlands for the weekend, so we decided to stop off at Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton, as we’d heard good things about it during last year’s visit to nearby Moseley Old Hall (not yet blogged about but highly recommended!).
Wightwick (pronounced ‘wittick’) Manor was built in 1887 for the Mander family. Mander Brothers was a local manufacturer of varnish, paint and printing ink and was a major employer in the area.
The Manor is a timber and brick building in the ‘Old English’ style and has quite an impressive exterior.
The house was given to the National Trust by Geoffrey Mander in 1937, which was unusual at the time because the house was less than 50 years old. Geoffrey and his wife Rosalie stayed in the house as live-in curators, adding a collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings which are on display today.
The house is decorated throughout with William Morris designs and has an Arts and Crafts influence. It’s both fun to look at and to look around, being homely and quirky with interesting alcoves, window seats, artwork and furniture.
The Drawing Room is the first room visited. There is generally an introductory talk here and the rest of the house is free flow. The room guides are extremely knowledgable and will happily answer questions.
The huge yet comfortable two-story Great Parlour was built as part of the 1893 extension.
Upstairs you can visit the servants rooms.
There are dressing up opportunities for children, young and old!
The house looks older than it is, so its hard to believe that it was built with the ‘cutting edge’ technology of electric light and central heating. It even has its own Turkish Bath.
There are 17 acres of garden to explore with clipped yew hedges creating outdoor ‘rooms’ in the more formal areas. The rose garden was a little damp underfoot but must look fabulous in the summer.
Further on there is a Kitchen Garden, with evidence of lots of digging and planting, including a super display of autumn flowers.
It was Halloween when we visited, with lots of children dressed up and quite a few adults too! We felt rather underdressed for the occasion it has to be said. Next year…..
Both the house and garden were geared up for small visitors over half term. There was a spider trail in the house which kept many of the children amused and a pumpkin hunt around the gardens was being enjoyed by families in the autumn sunshine.
The Mander’s Tea Room is located in the old garage and stable behind the house. It was such a lovely warm and sunny day that we ate our lunch outside – who would have thought that possible on Oct 31st? The Tea Room was also getting in on the Halloween act with a splendid display of pumpkins. The soup smelled pretty good too.
The wider grounds were a little squelchy in places, but made for a good leg stretch after tea and cake. The informality of these areas make them particularly good for children to run around and explore, with a designated area over the bridge for den building etc.
There was quite a spectacle of autumn colours on display throughout the grounds.
We spent about 3 hours at Wightwick Manor & Gardens but can easily imagine spending the whole day in the summer, as there are numerous benches and picnic opportunities for enjoying the sunshine. The house was so interesting that we felt that we could readily visit again to learn more about its history and that of the Mander family.
You can find out more about Wightwick Manor and its collection on the National Trust website.