Henley-on-Thames RG9 4PG, England
Greys Court is a grade I listed Tudor country house and gardens in the southern Chiltern Hills at Rotherfield Greys, near Henley-on-Thames in the county of Oxfordshire, England. Now owned by the National Trust and open to the public.
While far from the largest NT property, this house is wonderful: you could easily imagine living in it, as the previous owners did until 2003. Light, airy rooms with high ceilings made the house feel welcoming, unlike many NT properties where the shades are always drawn. The room guides were interesting and knowledgeable without being long-winded (a frequent characteristic of keen volunteers!
There’s a rich history of former residents to learn, since Sir John de Grey was given a license to crenellate his home and develop surrounding buildings in 1346, it has had three female owners. It was home to the mother of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, and had an owner who disappeared after the battle of Stoke. His skeleton was found sitting at a table in a locked cellar 200 years later! The Rotherfield de Greys are often said to be the ancestors of other de Grey families including Earls of Kent, Marquises of Dorset and Lady Jane Grey, although this cannot be proved.
One of the benefits of Greys Court is that it’s a relatively small National Trust property, meaning you get a real feel for the property and can really get into its story, and it’s great for little legs. If you have more energy, there are extensive grounds to explore, and a kids play park plus domestic animals and a wide variety of flora and fauna visible in the woods. This makes it a very popular destination and so going early to avoid the crowds is advised. You can always make a full day of it by doing the tour, followed by a walk and finishing either in the café or with a picnic