By Blue Badge Tour Guide - Anne Bartlett
Near the village of Broadway in the North Cotswolds is Snowshill Manor, a National Trust property which is open to the public. It displays over 20,000 assorted items of fine craftsmanship from toys to spinning wheels, furniture to musical instruments as well as Japanese armour collected by the eccentric Charles Paget Wade.
Charles Paget Wade owned sugar plantations in St Kitts in the West Indies and was extremely wealthy.
It was in 1918 that he came across an advertisement for Snowshill Manor, it was then a rather dilapidated Cotswold stone house, which was advertised for sale in the Country Life Magazine. Charles Paget Wade was curious, but he was abroad and it wasn’t until a year later that he was able to travel to the village and inspect the property. He decided to buy the manor house and the 14 acres of land that surrounded it.
Having bought the house he set about repairing and restoring the place, employing 28 workmen from Gloucester. They stayed at the manor during the week sleeping in the attic. Apparently one of the workmen felt the house to be haunted and refused to stay any longer than one night.
During this time Wade commissioned Baillie Scott a London architect to design his garden, which is set out very much in the Arts and Crafts style.
It is thought unlikely that Wade ever lived or even thought of living in the Manor House. He saw it purely as a place to display his great collection of objects. Instead he chose to live very simply in a small cottage in the courtyard at the back.
Queen Mary visited Snowshill Manor in 1937. She showed great interest in Charles Wades collection but she is reported to have said that the finest thing in the house was Chales Wade himself.
Charles Wade gave Snowshill Manor and its contents to the National Trust in 1951 and went back to St Kitts to live. He visited England in 1956 but was taken ill whilst staying in Broadway. He died shortly afterwards in Evesham hospital and is buried in Snowshill churchyard.
Snowshill Manor House is open during the week from Wednesday to Sunday from midday to 5 0’clock in the afternoon. Entry is by timed ticket on a first come first served basis. The garden, the shop, restaurant and grounds open at 11o’clock, so an hour before the actual house opens.
For more information about visiting Snowshill Manor you can telephone 01386 852410