With its stone façade perched above perfectly manicured gardens, the Snowshill Manor, set in the idyllic region of Cotswold, looks like the quintessential English manor house. But inside, it hides a world of treasures.
It was the home of an English gentleman by the name of Charles Paget Wade, a self-declared admirer of all things handcrafted who lived by the motto “Let nothing perish.” He spent his life, and his inheritance, collecting objects that fascinated him and caught his eye, from the ordinary to the extravagant.
Wade bought Snowshill Manor in 1919 after seeing an ad for it in a magazine, specifically to display his enormous and wide-ranging collections. The home, which was a 16th-century abbey before it was seized by King Henry VIII, is now a maze of items that encompass an enormous array of design and craftsmanship. In one room you’ll find musical instruments, in another wooden toys and prams, and in another suits of Samurai armor dressed on life-like mannequins.
The treasures extend to the terraced gardens outside, including a miniature village painstakingly crafted by Wade, and the simple Priest’s House where the eccentric gentleman lived while he curated his splendid collections. The entire property is filled to the rafters with around 22,000 pieces, yet there are no labels or explanations by any of the items. Wade did not want Snowshill to feel like a museum; instead, it takes on the feeling of a treasure hunt. Visitors weave their way through rooms with names such as “A Hundred Wheels” and “Dragon,” each filled with the unexpected delights and curiosities.
Know Before You Go
Snowshill Manor is a National Trust property in the small village of the same name. The house and gardens are open daily from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The manor is accessible by car, train, or bicycle. Detailed directions and ticket information can be found on the website.