The History of Westonbirt House

Magnificent Westonbirt House, now home to Westonbirt School and a unique venue for weddings and events, is one of the finest stately homes in England and boasts a fascinating history of royal visits, art masterpieces and landscape architecture!

Westonbirt was created by Robert Holford who was one of the richest men in Victorian England. Inheriting money from his Grandfather who amassed an immense fortune from constructing a canal to supply London with fresh water, Holford was a scholar and a distinguished art connoisseur. He built an outstanding collection of old masters, including paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck and Rembrandt and housed his art collection and library of rare books at Westonbirt and in his London residence, Dorchester House, now the Dorchester Hotel.

Many original features of the house remain and reproductions of Holford’s priceless art collection hang on the walls of the magnificent state rooms. Highlights of the house include original 19th-century silk wallpaper and embossed Cordoba leather wall coverings. The breath-taking great hall showcases a stunning fireplace of Carrara marble, and the library retains its original built-in bookcases. Exclusive use of these exquisite rooms and landscaped gardens offer wedding parties a venue that is spectacular and steeped in history.

Holford devoted even greater attention to the creation of showcase landscaped gardens at Westonbirt and in 1838 began to lay the foundations of what would become the Westonbirt Arboretum. Over many years he financed plant-finding expeditions across the globe and his renowned collection of tree and plant specimens extended over 600 acres.

Robert’s son George inherited the estate in 1892. A soldier and courtier, he was an Equerry to King Edward VII and regularly hosted royal visitors at Westonbirt and can be seen in the above image with a Royal Party including King Edward and Queen Alexandra at Westonbirt in 1908. Although he did not share his father’s interest in art and books, he did have a passion for the cultivation of orchids and the Westonbirt orchids were displayed by him at the first ever Chelsea Flower Show where they won the prestigious gold medal.