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Derbyshire, England

Renishaw Hall

This lovely ancestral home inspired the author D.H. Lawrence, and features a tunnel made out of a living willow. 

This magnificent British estate, perched atop a rocky vista, has been home to the aristocratic Sitwell family for over 400 years.

Renishaw Hall was built in 1625, by family patriarch George Sitwell, the High Sheriff of Derbyshire. Over the centuries, succeeding generations of Sitwells added on to the hall, until it became a rambling, window-filled palace. In the late 19th century, Sir George Sitwell laid out a beautiful Italianate garden filled with lime trees, secret garden rooms, long vistas, ornamental ponds, statues and formal walks. There is also a beautiful woodland area featuring Yucca trees, an abundance of wildlife, tranquil lakes and the famed “classical temple.” Of special interest to parents is a children’s garden which features a tunnel made out of a living willow.

The Sitwell’s have long been known as an eccentric clan, full or artists, art patrons, writers and inventors.  During the 19th and 20th centuries three Sitwell siblings (the children of the aforementioned George) became well known for their literary output. Dame Edith Sitwell, who one admirer called “an alter on the move,” was an inventive poet and novelist. Sir Sacheverell Sitwell was an art historian and critic. Sir Osbert Sitwell wrote many literary works, most notably the five-volume autobiography Left Hand, Right Hand. Renishaw Hall itself is said to have inspired D.H. Lawrence to write the scandalous novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

One of the most interesting sites on the estate is the Renishaw Hall vineyard, planted by the late Sir Reresby Sitwell in 1972. Until 1986, it was claimed to be the most northern vineyard in the world. Today, the estate is owned by Alexandra Sitwell. It is open to the public March 23rd through October 2nd. Guests can dine in a café, tour the family museum, walk through the Hall and tramp the grounds, all in one glorious, picture -perfect English country day.