Then off we went through willowy lanes by Drayton and Hambridge, villages of thatched roofs with portugal laurels in flower, gardens of straight clipped yews, and houses bowered with roses, till turning up what seemed a by-lane beneath o’ershadowing elms, we found ourselves in the picturesque village of Barrington; and passing through the village, with its almost miniature cottages, and a church with octagon tower rising out of a cruciform body, came in sight of the substantial Georgian stables, and then of the Elizabethan house of Barrington Court beyond, with its striking twisted finials and chimneys.  A nearer view made us realize the beauty of its narrow gables and many-mullioned windows, and pulling up at the side doorway, with its comparatively modern porch, built by a Mr. Petre in exquisite harmony with the rest of the building, we asked for admittance.  It was an unfortunate moment, for it was the dinner hour at the farm, and Mr. Jacobs, the farmer, could not of course be kept from his donner.  We therefore went round to the front of the house to gain some idea of its magnificence, and were not a little distressed to find that the two deodars planted before the house, in the deep recess made by its outjutting wings, were rapidly growing in such a way as to hide some of its chief beauty. (pp. 83-84)

It was impossible to gain a full idea of the extent of the house without getting some distance from it, by passing across the rough meadow in front.  The farther we went from it, the more the “Glory of Somerset,” as it has been called, grew upon us.  We saw at once, as was fitting in the time of Elizabeth, that the house had been built in the form of the letter E.  The angle buttresses of the wings and porch rose up to twisted terminals.  These ended in cupola-like tops.  The gable ends were finished with like terminals, and all the chimneys were twisted and gave great lightness and attraction to the building.  Light and grace were its marked features.  The mullioned windows, with arched heads and water-tables above, were all in keeping with the best Tudor architecture.  The porch had a fine Tudor arch with rooms above it and gables on either hand. (p. 84-85)

One could not help wondering how it was possible such a splendid pile had ever been erected in a position from which little outlook was attainable, for the view was bounded by the featureless slope of the near hill, and the absence of large timber was not compensated for by the great orchards that stretched away from one end of the house.  Those orchards reminded us that one of the chief assets of the tenant is the possibility of cider-making.  How good that cider was we were soon to know, for Mr. Jacobs, with true yeoman courtesy, sent out to beg us rest in the front porch, and with the message also sent a jug of his own excellent liquor. (p. 85)

The lady of the house soon appeared to show us over it, and entering the great hall we found its floor filled to overflowing with barrels of the local beverage.  We went from room to room, troubled beyond measure by evidence of the thoughtless gutting of the house by former owners.  What panelling remained was for the most part of painted deal.  The oak staircase and oak panellings and balustrading of the staircase had all been removed.  We owe it to the care of the National Trust, advised by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, that the roofing timbers and ceiling rafters are now sound, and at least one fire-place concealed by brickwork and plaster has been uncovered. (p. 86)

We noticed as we went through the house the enormous amount of space used for passages, and the comparatively small number of living-rooms.  A good insight into Elizabethan ways was gained by our visit to the huge open garrets, with little recesses for cubicles to accommodate the servants, which ran from end to end of the house.  We were not astonished to hear that at one time five hundred Parliamentary soldiers were accommodated in this attic.  The only creatures accommodated there now are the owls, and though the windows have been built up to prevent their easy entrance, they still find their way thither, and as our hostess told us, make a noise at night as if people were shuffling about and dragging weights over the rough boarding. (pp. 86-87)

Gutted and destroyed inside as it is, the interior of the house still contains a little fine plaster work and some fairly good eighteenth-century panelling, but its exterior, built of the finely covered Ham Hill stone, remains a very beautiful example of a sixteenth-century country residence.  There is some uncertainty about its history, but it is thought that it was built by Henry, Lord Daubeny, whom Henry VIII created first Earl of Bridgewater.  It afterwards came into possession of the families of Clifton, Phelips, and Strode. (p; 87)….

The history of how Barrington Court came into the hands of the Trust is as follows:  In 1904 it was in the market, and together with 220 acres of land was purchasable for £10,500.  Towards this sum the late Miss Woodward, who at that time wished her gift to be anonymous, contributed £10,000, subject to the payment of its interest during two lives, on the condition that the Trust would raise another £1,500 to complete the purchase, and to put the house into such repair as would preserve it weather-proof and free from possibility of further decay.  This the Trust agreed to do, because it felt that, for all lovers of architecture, such a unique example of an Elizabethan country residence ought not to be allowed to pass away.  The money was therefor raised by public subscription, and in 1907 this stately home of England became its property. (pp. 87-88)

The Trust is fortunate in having for its tenant a member of the family which for a hundred years past has farmed the Barrington Court farm and dwelt in the house.  Mr. and Mrs. Jacobs take a natural pride in the preservation of their old home and in doing the honour to visitors. (p. 88)

We turned away from Barrington Court with real regret and many backward-looking glances, and can only hope that the time may come when some one with a real love of architecture and a long pocket may be able to replace the oaken beauty of the interior and make the house, what it should never have ceased to be, the dignified home of a country gentleman. (p. 88)

(A Nation’s Heritage, pp. 74-89)