A Home For The King's Lord Chamberlain
Victorian Homes|Fall 2017

The Vyne Was Built For Lord Sandys, King Henry Viii’s Lord Chamberlain. 

Susie Kearley

The house that stands today is a small part of a much larger Tudor building, built in the early 16th century by King Henry VIII’s Lord Chamberlain, William, 1st Lord Sandys. He entertained the king at his home on three separate occasions. William died in 1540, the family fortunes declined, and in 1653 the estate sold to Caloner Chute, the Speaker of the House of Commons in the Houses of Parliament. He modernized the house, demolishing two thirds of the Tudor building, and then ordered the construction of the north tower and the present range to the east. He commissioned architect John Webb to add a classical portico and installed sash windows. His grandson, John Chute, inherited the property in 1754 and he’s responsible for the gothic interiors.

MODERN DETAILS

William Wiggett Chute inherited the Vyne in 1827, but at the time, he was living at Pickenham Hall in Norfolk and serving as their local Member of Parliament. He sold Pickenham in 1842, dedicating his money and time to the restoration and repair of The Vyne, and gave up his position in Parliament in 1847. He fitted out a new library on the first floor with a 17th century chimneypiece and ornate carved woodwork. Then he brought new furniture and works of art into the house. Chute added 16 new bedrooms to the servants’ wing and was keen to do away with informal arrangements between masters and servants, especially where the owners of the property were sleeping in close proximity to their servants’ bedrooms. With this in mind, he built a new back staircase designed to keep servants and their masters apart. He made modest improvements both inside and outside the house, including the introduction of running water, and added battlements on the ranges flanking the portico to match those on the chapel wing.

In 1911, Sir Charles Chute, William’s grandson, created the drive that now leads to the house. He made numerous repairs to the property, including re-leading the chapel windows. In 1920, he installed electricity and then let the house to Lucie James, an Australian teacher who turned it into a girls’ boarding school. The Chute family returned to The Vyne in 1930. 

During WWII, an evacuated prep school from Kent relocated to The Vyne to continue their lessons. The family remained in the house, living in harmony with the children. It was 1956 when Charles gave the estate to the National Trust. His surviving wife, Lady Chute, gave up her rights to the property and went to live in a smaller house on the estate.

RESTORATION CONTINUES

Major restoration works have taken place in recent years, including the chapel windows in 2016. Just this year, the whole roof has been removed to address issues of damp, water ingress and crumbling chimneys. Everything should be back to normal by spring of 2018.

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