`The Vyne' in Hampshire is one of the National Trust's most popular properties. Tudor in origin, it reflects the best of English taste down the ages and is that county's loveliest example of a family home.
Chaloner Chute, Speaker of the Commons in 1659, bought it from the impoverished Sandys family after the Civil War and his successors owned it until 1956, when the Trust took it over..
This book reveals its many ups and downs in fortune under the Chute family for over 300 years.
It is astonishing to read how this beautiful house, blessed today with so many works of art, was at various times in its history sequestrated from its owners by a scurvy stepmother, repeatedly mortgaged, threatened with a `gothick' makeover, neglected in favour of foxhunting, and allowed to moulder in the rising damp which nearly killed off the family. What with teetering ceilings and cricket balls crashing into antiques, it is a minor miracle that The Vyne and its treasures survived intact!
This book is written in an easygoing style and copiously illustrated in colour. Its general interest lies in the vignettes of selected characters (apart from those of the Vyne) caught up in wider historical events: e.g. Henry VIII's Standard Bearer, Philip Chute, in the spin and deception of the Tudor Court, Sir Walter Chute (friend of John Donne, the poet) imprisoned and disinherited for challenging his king, George Chute imprisoned for challenging Cromwell, expatriate Chutes who fought in Ireland and taught in America, l9th/20th Century actor-managers of Bristol Theatre, and a craftsman-artist exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery, who worked with Stanley Spencer and Eric Gill but later became a priest in Italy under Mussolini.
These stand out in a 900-year survey of the Chute family's rise from its legendary founder Edvard, a Jutish sailor in 1066 under the Norman Count Robert of Mortain, via manorial stewardship in Somerset and survival in the Black Death, up to the ranks of English and Irish gentry by 1450, and thence into national prominence.