On Friday 4th October a group of OBs, wives and partners had an enjoyable visit to the grade one listed Chavenage House, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire. Organised by Gloucestershire DVP, Mark Howson (65–74), the group enjoyed the wonderful hospitality and culinary delights offered by the Lowsley-Williams family, the current owners.
A quintessential English family with a five barrelled surname “Williams-Lowsley-Hoole-Lowsley-Williams”, the family has lived in the property since the mid-1800s. The group was treated to an insightful and amusing history of the house through the ages by the charismatic Caroline Lowsley-Williams. As you can imagine, a house which has stood since 970, has had many colourful episodes in its history, and includes a number of resident ghosts.
Caroline explained that during the last five years, Chavenage has been used as a film set for the BBC period drama Poldark, causing some confusion amongst visiting Japanese tourists who have been known to think that they are in the heart of Cornwall, rather than deepest Gloucestershire! Caroline explained that the revenue generated from the filming of Poldark and other period dramas, had been spent almost entirely on repairing the leaking roofs, rather than the luxuries of modern life such as heating which, she explained, had broken five years ago and had not been repaired. Thankfully, we visited on a warm autumnal afternoon! She also recalled the occasion she had chatted to Daniel Day-Lewis and found him to be utterly charming and not the difficult, moody actor she had been led to believe – only to find she had spent half an hour chatting to his body double!
Connections with the Royal Family run deep, helped by the fact that the house is equidistant between Highgrove and Gatcombe Park, and we were certainly left with the thought that many a good party had been held in the ballroom!
Although asset rich, cash poor, we left Chavenage with the impression that the family was doing everything in its power to preserve the history and grandeur of the building for future generations.