Snowshill Manor is not an ordinary country house. It’s a treasure trove full of weird and wonderful curiosities from the surrounding area and the wider world.
In the small village of Snowshill you will find a manor house like no other. This beautifully quirky National Trust property set in the heart of the Cotswolds is a tribute to a 20th century eccentric collector and treasure seeker, Charles Paget Wade.
The Manor, surrounded by dream-like orchards, vegetable patches and terraced hillside garden, makes up for a perfect scenery. But it’s the house and its contents which causes the jaw to drop.
The house, made of golden Cotswold stone, is packed with a variety of collectables originating from as far as Japan and China. You’ll be fascinated by the wonderful world collected by Charles Wade, who devoted his life to amassing a huge variety of ceramics, model ships, toys, chinese chests, exquisite lights, paintings, and so much more.
Charles Wade, architect, artist and craftsman, embodied his family motto ‘Let nothing perish’, spending his life gathering a spectacular collection of unusual items from across the globe. From a very young age he was captivated by the beauty of handcrafted and extraordinary objects. The inherited wealth from his families’ plantations allowed him to pursue his lifetime hobby and mission – to create a house, not a museum, full of spectacular treasures which could be used to educate, intrigue and please people.
Wade purchased Snowshill Manor in 1919 and spent three years restoring it with an intention to turn the manor into the perfect home growing collection. While serving in the Royal Engineers near Arras during World War I, he saw an advert for Snowshill in a Country Life magazine, and promised himself that if he survived the war he would buy it to house his collection.
Charles Wades eclectic and fascinating collection consists of 22,000 objects which occupy every inch of the Snowshill Manor.
Wade kept his collection with the Arts and Crafts philosophy celebrating colour, design and fine craftsmanship. Since the age of 7, inspired by his Grandma’s Oriental Chinese cabinet, he started growing his collection of treasure trove and adding to it a mixture of objects from furniture, paintings, costumes, to clocks from several countries. Like in a maze, you can stroll from room to room, each having a name and a theme like Meridian, Zenith, Occidens, Mermaid, Seventh Heaven, Mizzen, stumbling upon unusual curiosities.
As example, the Green Room is filled with models wearing 26 suits of Japanese samurai armour dating from the 17th and 19th centuries while Mermaid has a selection of 18th and 19th century dolls, soft toys, and Wade’s favourite ‘Robert’s Shop’.
Want to see more? Visit the full gallery and get to know Snowshill Mannor and gardens better.
Wade’s unconventional nature is being reflected in every corner of the house. Interestingly he didn’t live in the Manor House, preferring a small, nearby cottage called the Priest’s House which is considered to be the most unusual feature of the place. The room filled with a Tudor box bed, religious items, iconography and a large crucifix on the wall painted by Wade himself, feels more like a chapel than a sleeping room.
What is more there were no modern additions as Wade deliberately disregarded modern conveniences such as electricity, preferring the atmospheric lighting of oil lamps and candles.
Wade entrusted the Manor and his collection to the National Trust in 1951 to ensure his lifetime hobby would continue to inspire and intrigue future generations like it has done during his lifetime. The house and its curiosities, well known in the artistic circles, entertained friends while also managing to attract some famous visitors including J.B. Priestley, Edwin Lutyens, John Masefield, Virginia Woolf and, in 1937, Queen Mary.
Some of the rooms, the Salamander and Dragon Nadir, were used specifically for entertaining guests. The Dragon Nadir even provided the stage for theatrical performances by Wade and his friends who used to dress up in costumes and wigs from his huge collection of 2,250 pieces.
During your visit make the most of the spectacular Cotswold’s scenery and enjoy a walk around his delightful garden which has plenty of nooks and crannies worth exploring. You may find in here a Wolf’s Creek model village (built by Wade himself), water features and a turquoise 24 hour garden clock with its astronomical devices and inscriptions. The house is packed with so many treasures that you are bound to find something that you like.
The Manor and Garden are a 500-yard hilly walk from reception, shop and Tea Room. For visitors who would find the walk difficult, there is a shuttle buggy by request which stop at the Manor, the Tea Room and visitor reception.
Tea-room & tea-garden:
Taste the produce grown in Snowshill’s Kitchen Garden in the tea-room and tea-garden. From warm lunch, delicious sandwiches to homemade cakes, you’ll easily find something to fulfill your appetite.
Pick up a souvenir from the Snowshill Shop, an ideal place to stock up on local goodies. From books, plants to guidebooks, you’ll be sure to find something you like.