The many layers of The Vyne

The Strawberry Parlour at The Vyne. The 1690 walnut writing-cabinet is flanked by mid-eighteenth-century chairs for which Laura, Lady Chute, made the covers in the early twentieth century. The seascape is eighteenth century. The panelling was painted green until it was stripped at the end of the nineteenth century. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

I recently showed images of the amazing contemporary furniture by Mark Brazier Jones being displayed at The Vyne. But even without such added bling the house has many different layers of history and meaning.

Early-sixteenth-century Flemish tiles, based on Italian designs, in the Chapel. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Vyne was created in the early sixteenth century as a Tudor ‘power house’ for the Sandys family out of a group of medieval buildings. In 1653 the estate was bought by Chaloner Chute, a Speaker of the House of Commons, who modernised it and added the portico (see previous post) – the first to be used on an English house.

Giltwood and black-painted agate-topped pier-table and pier-glass, dating to about 1760, in the Further Drawing Room. The black and gold cornice is characteristic of ‘Strawberry Hill’ taste. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

John Chute, an architect and antiquarian, inherited The Vyne in 1754. Chute was a friend of Horace Walpole and a member of the ‘Committee of Taste’ that advised Walpole on the building of his house, Strawberry Hill. In his remodelling of The Vyne Shute used a mixture of Gothic and Classical, but he also showed considerable respect for the history of the house itself.

The Library, which was heavily altered by Wiggett Chute after 1842. He created the shelves by using a cornice from the family pew in the parish church and brought woodwork and panelling from elsewhere in the house. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The next generation to make a significant impact was that of William Wiggett Chute and his wife Martha, who took up residence in 1842. With characteristic Victorian enterprise Wiggett Chute repaired the house and rearranged its contents.

The chinoiserie tapestries in the Tapestry Room may have been in the house since shortly after they were made at the Soho factory in about 1720. Laura, Lady Chute, produced the needlework on the stools in the early twentieth century. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

He brought running water to the upper floors and added sixteen bedrooms as well as a back staircase for the servants. Nevertheless Wiggett Chute was keen to preserve the historical spirit of the place, for instance by buying Vyne-related items at the great Strawberry Hill sale in 1842.

The Print Room, which was created in 1804. By 1959 the prints had deteriorated beyond repair and were replaced by the National Trust. Beyond is the classical Staircase Hall, constructed by John Chute between 1769 and 1771. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Wiggett Chute’s son, the second Chaloner Chute, published A History of the Vyne in 1888, one of the most scholarly of nineteenth-century country house histories. Sir Charles Chute, 1st Baronet, gave The Vyne to the National Trust in 1956.

9 Responses to “The many layers of The Vyne”

  1. Janet Says:

    The Vyne to me is the quintessential English country house. A wonderful mix of styles, and revealing layers of history. And yet there is an intimacy to it as well.

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Indeed, and the feeling of intimacy probably has something to do with that ‘palimpsest’ quality.

  3. downeastdilettante Says:

    I first encountered The Vyne in the pages of Country Life, which our local library on this side of the Atlantic subscribed to in those days, to my adolescent delight (I couldn’t have been more pleased had they subscribed to Playboy). I was electrified by the house—the mix of Jacobean, Baroque and Gothic—just marvelous—and as Janet points out, on a reasonable scale

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    What a nice image: the adolescent Dilletante making a beeline for the Country Life shelves 🙂

  5. Kelly McDonald Says:

    thanks for the gorgeous images! I visited The Vyne in 2007, and have been researching Eliza Chute’s family. I’d love to hear from anyone with information on the Chutes in the early 19th century. I’m still gathering letters and diaries from sources. Emma Smith (who later married James Edward Austen, nephew of writer Jane Austen) mentions The Vyne in her letters; they make for fascinating reading; as does the memoir of Caroline Wiggett Workman.

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Kelly, if you have specific questions you could ask Lucy Porten, the curator responsible for The Vyne (

  7. Kelly McDonald Says:

    Thanks! Always good to have a contact. I appreciate the suggestion. Had a nice “email chat” with Gwynneth Dunston, who has given her talk on Eliza Chute; wish I could have been present for it (but I live in the States).
    I look forward to more about The Vyne!

  8. Francis Chute (great grandson of Wiggett Chute) Says:

    Re the lead article. The family name was not pronounced “shoot” either in Speaker Chute’s day or now. Always “chute” as in chocolate and chuff-chuff. A 17thC antiquarian even wrote that it sounded like a memorial of the Jutes.
    Francis Chute

  9. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thank you for letting me know. I suppose that because of the existence of the name Shute one assumes Chute is pronounced the same – but of course one should never assume 🙂

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