Gorhambury House Off Watling Street, St Albans AL3 6AH, England
The Gorhambury Estate is a traditional rural estate located on the edge of St Albans. The evolving history of the area is captured in the Roman Theatre, Old Gorhambury and Gorhambury House that are all part of the estate. Once a key residence in the country, Old Gorhambury House was sadly left to crumble into disrepair and ruin. The remains, including a showcase porch, are relatively few now, but do indicate what would have been a much more extensive country home.
The current Gorhambury House was commissioned by James Grimston, the 3rd Viscount Grimston and built between 1777-84 under the guidance of Sir Robert Taylor. The architect is known for many buildings in central London and southern England, including parts of the Bank of England.
Gorhambury House replaced an earlier Elizabethan mansion which was constructed by Sir Nicholas Bacon, and built partly from the abbey buildings at St Albans, although the main church still exists as the city’s cathedral. Queen Elizabeth I visited Gorhambury House a number of times during her reign, and the site also played home to the infamous political advisor Sir Francis Bacon.
Located just to the west of St Albans, the house is Grade II Listed and was constructed in a neo-Palladian design. There are a selection of paintings found throughout the house, including family portraits of the Bacon and Grimston lineages, reflecting Gorehambury’s history.
The house has been lived in by the Grimston family since its construction in the 18th century. The current Viscount and Viscountess Grimston still live at Gorhambury, although it is open to the public at certain times throughout the year.
Excavations on the site beginning in the 19th century, and continuing early into the 20th, unveiled the remains of the theatre from the Roman town of Verulamium, located to the south west of the existing city of St Albans. As well as unearthing a number of artefacts, the excavations also uncovered traces of a villa and shrine. The ruins can be viewed as part of a planned visit to Gorehambury.