Dyrham is pronounced “deer-ham”. Not surprisingly, it is an ancient deer park. It was the country seat of Mr William Blathwayt, constructed at the end of the 17th Century. It looks rather ethereal in the murky gloom and drizzling rain of early February.
In 1668, Blathwayt entered the diplomatic service and was sent to the English embassy in The Hague, where he learned Dutch. When King James II was succeeded by William of Orange (King William III), Blathwayt was one of the few civil servants who could speak Dutch and communicate with the new King. His career took off when he was appointed Secretary At War. He played a great part in administering the fledgling North American colonies, became wealthy and built Dyrham. This is the view of the front of the house, with St Peter’s Church on the left. Different architects designed the front and the back of the mansion.
There is a wonderful trompe l’oeil painting through an internal door which leads the eye through several more doors. I particularly like the cat and dog. Samuel Pepys remarks on this painting in his famous diaries. The real wooden flooring changes to black and white tiles in the painting.
In modern-day footballer mansions, or in Mar-a-Lago, an Orangery would actually be a tanning salon, but here its purpose is to grow citrus fruit in a temperate climate.
The original St Peter’s church was built in the 13th Century, but it was renovated during the construction of Dyrham.
The door to the Church Tower, with notices pointing out the cost of heating the place.