This popular, Grade II listed Georgian house has an imposing position at the top of the High…
Dyrham Park lies in 274 acres (111ha) of garden and undulating parkland and is one of the loveliest houses in the west of England. The baroque mansion dates back to between 1692 and 1705 and was built by William Blathwayt, civil servant and William III’s Secretary of State. Blathwayt was also an accomplished linguist, traveller, art lover and MP for nearby Bath. He appreciated architecture and good books but was cautious with money.
The house was designed by several eminent architects of the period. The Huguenot architect Samuel Hauduroy was commissioned to create the west front in 1692, while the Chatsworth architect, William Talman, designed the east front in 1704.
Much of Dyrham Park is accessible to the public, including the servants’ quarters, complete with Victorian kitchen and larders. Also on view are exotic timbers and vibrant blue-and-white Delft tiles set against a backdrop of dark panelling and faded tapestries for maximum effect. Following an extensive programme of repairs, the house was given to the National Trust in 1961. The deer park was later purchased with a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
Most of the once-legendary gardens at Dyrham have disappeared over the years, but a few surviving relics recall earlier times. For example, the statue of Neptune is a tangible reminder of the elaborate Dutch-style water garden that once decorated the grounds. Dyrham’s landscaped 18th-century parkland now replaces it.
The Remains of the Day
The first glimpse of the striking sandstone house looming into view in its own secluded valley may strike a chord. Observant moviegoers will recognize Dyrham Park as Darlington Hall in the film The Remains of the Day, made in 1993 and starring Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson and James Fox. The movie was based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s prizewinning novel (1989). Typically, director James Ivory made clever use of real locations for the production, employing only the exterior of Dyrham Park. Other country houses in the region were used for interior shots. The film, like Ishiguro’s novel, is a haunting evocation of a lost way of life during the middle years of the 20th century. At the heart of the story is a great English house where the daily routine is defined by class and culture.
From the car park walk along the access road to the A46 and cross over with care, following the Cotswold Way signs. Turn left for a few paces, then right to join an enclosed path signed 'Todmarton'. Emerging from the tree cover, continue along the field-edge; keep ahead when the Cotswold Way turns left, and go straight on to the field corner, exiting to a lane.
Turn left, then right (signposted Dyrham), following a bridleway track along the left edge of the field. At the top of the field continue ahead on the track between stone walls. Descend to the road, turn left and walk into West Littleton.
Turn right at the village green into the churchyard, make for the stone stile in the west wall, and pass alongside a riding school to a gate. Turn right in the paddock, then left to a gate. Cross a narrow meadow to a ladder stile, and descend the field to a farm track with stiles either side. Keep ahead for 50yds (46m) to a dirt track. Enter the large field in front of you and go anti-clockwise all the way to a stone stile in the right-hand boundary. Keep ahead in the next two fields to reach the A46. Cross it, look for a gap in the wall and go through a gate.
Access to Dyrham Park and its visitor centre is on the right. Go through a kissing gate, cross the drive and continue with fencing on the right. Keep ahead, with views over the park and down to Dyrham Church's tower to the right through wire fencing. A wide sweep of countryside can be seen beyond. Pass through another gate and continue through woodland. Beyond the trees descend several steps to the road.
Turn right, pass a private drive to Dyrham Park on the right and follow the road. Keep right by a Cotswold Way sign and Dyrham Cottage, and pass an entrance to Dyrham Park on the right. Follow a stone wall to a gateway where there is a magnificent view of Dyrham Park house and the church. Bear left on the road, pass the Garden House on the left, and turn right at the Cotswold Way sign.
Pass a seat among the trees and go ahead through two gates. After the second gate bear right and follow the field-edge. Pass through a series of gates, avoid a footpath on the left, and keep ahead to a lane. Turn left and head north to the next road junction.
Cross over, continue on the Cotswold Way and keep a hedge on your left. Pass under pylon cables until you reach an opening in the field corner. Turn right and follow the field-edge as it curves left in line with a curtain of woodland. Make for a gap on the right among the trees and return to the car park.
Cotswold Way, field tracks, farmland paths, mainly quiet roads; 5 stiles
Pleasant mixture of established parkland and rolling farmland at the southern foot of the Cotswolds
Several sections of road, and busy crossing point on the A46; not permitted in Dyrham Park
OS Explorer 155 Bristol & Bath
Parking and picnic area north of Dyrham Park, off the A46 close to M4 junction 18
Next to visitor centre at Dyrham Park
WALKING IN SAFETY
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
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