The History of Homme House
‘Nil Moror Ictus’
I HEED NOT BLOWS
The Homme House Estate has heeded the original Kyrle family motto in enduring the ups and downs of over six centuries and fifteen generations of continuous, extended family ownership. We hope you enjoy reading about the history of Homme, the people that have lived here and the subsequent restoration.
The origins of the Homme House Estate date back to the 14th century, when it was owned by the Mortimer family. The Mortimers rose to fame through Roger Mortimer’s affair with Isabella, wife of Edward II, who was imprisoned in Berkeley Castle and murdered there in 1327. The remains of Mortimers Castle lie on the edge of the Estate, adjacent to St. Bartholomew’s Church.
In the mid-15th century the Estate became the property of the crown before later being bought in 1574 by Thomas Kyrle – great-great uncle of John Kyrle, ‘Man of Ross’ – with ownership traceable thereafter through the same family links to this day.
The origins of the current house date back to the early 1500s, when a large stone house stood on the current site. The tower is the only surviving wing and is the oldest part of the current building, dating from this period. The Kyrles were part of an influential county-wide extended family; Thomas’s son and heir Sir John was created a baronet by Charles I in 1627 and was twice High Sheriff of Herefordshire. He rebuilt the house in the early 17th century after a major fire; this is commemorated by the cartouche above the front door, which bears the date of 1623 and the marital coat of arms of his parents, Thomas Kyrle and his wife Frances, daughter of John Knotsford of Malvern, Worcestershire.
The house was substantially altered in the middle of the 19th century including refacing with its current red brick and stone dressings. The large bay window was an addition from that time.
Homme House was used as a hospital during World War II; documents on display from H M The Queen and the Red Cross acknowledge the house’s wartime use.
The house is now a Grade II* listed building, surrounded by an extensive garden, 100 acres of historic parkland landscaped in the style of Capability Brown (1715-1783), and 80 acres of woodland.
The Grade 1 listed Summerhouse stands at the top of the two acre Walled Garden with breathtaking views of the Malvern Hills and the Cotswolds beyond.
Architectural and archaeological analysis has concluded that the Summerhouse may be one of the most important buildings of its date and type in the region and is also of national significance. It was built very early in the 18th century, if not towards the end of the 17th century, and represents a very early example of a Gothick garden building, pre-dating Miller’s work at Radway Grange in the late-1740s or Walpole’s work at Strawberry Hill. The date and significance of the lantern at the apex of the roof, however, remain a delightful mystery.
The two-storey building was constructed in a single phase and subsequently remodelled only slightly. The status and comfort of its two rooms and the spacious stair access to them suggests that it was built as a fashionable garden building for the owners of the house. It would offer suitable accommodation for both winter and summer use, a little removed from the main house and yet conveniently still within the walled garden, and may have been used as a space for ‘peaceful bucolic contemplation’.
By the end of the 1990s, generations of under-investment in the upkeep of the house had taken its toll – the ceilings were falling in, parts of the main house semi-derelict, the gardens overgrown, walls of the walled garden collapsing and the Summerhouse dangerously unstable.
In 2001 Jocelyn & John Finnigan took a leap of faith to try and save Homme House, moving to Homme to live with the previous generation. They then embarked on a labour of love to restore the house and gardens, a project 18 years and ongoing. The house was opened as a wedding venue in 2004 and all the proceeds from such events continue to be used exclusively to fund the ongoing maintenance and restoration projects here at Homme.
The next generation came on board in 2009 following their own wedding at Homme, and Charlie & Sarah now look after all the events at Homme to give their parents at least the pretence of a retirement.
We are incredibly grateful to everyone who chooses to spend time with us here at Homme, as it is that choice which allows us to be here continuing the work of caring for this special place to share it with future friends, families and guests.
Homme is made by the special couples who celebrate their love for each other here, surrounded by those who love them the most, and we like to think the special atmosphere this creates rubs off on the place. We hope that everyone who visits us feels the same way, and enjoys sharing in this little slice of heaven.
We hope to provide a brief flavour of some of the current, ongoing and upcoming projects here at Homme on the blog (watch this space!). An extra pair of hands is always welcome!