The point of having a house is to live in it. Isn’t that its purpose? For Charles Paget Wade that wasn’t the case. In 1919, he bought the Tudor manor house of Snowshill in the Cotswold village Snowshill and restored the property. From 821, Snowshill was a monastic building and under the control of Winchcombe Abbey until its Dissolution in 1539 when Henry VIII confiscated the abbey and presented it to his sixth wife, Catherine Parr. After that the Tudor house had numerous owners and tenants. Until Charles bought it.
Wade was an architect, artist, craftsman, poet, heir to a fortune and… a collector. By the time he died, he’d collected over 22,000 objects and filled his house with them. Consequently, he moved out and in lived in the priest’s house (a cottage opposite the main house).
Charles’s motto was ‘let nothing perish’. These days, he’d be called a hoarder and the council would have called in social workers to help him disposed of unwanted things. His collection was eclectic, reflecting his varied interests.
Up until 1951, when he handed the property to the National Trust, he acquired all manner of things for his manor: bicycles, toys, musical instruments (my favourite room), Samurai armour. What he collected doesn’t fall into neat categories or interests. It certainly helps when you tour the house to have guides in the rooms to explain some of the objects. The National Trust, who now take care of house since 1951, rely on volunteers to help them.
Charles married in his 60s to Mary Graham, who was 44 years old and the vicar’s daughter. They married in 1946 and spent more and more of their time on St Kitts. When he returned five years later, he fell ill and died.
Snowshill manor houses 16,811 items and is now a certified museum. The house itself is beautifully maintained and the gardens, which are terraced, includes a 24hour clock garden and kitchen garden.
The property is considered to be haunted by a monk and a young woman forced to marry in 1604 against her wishes. Whether this scared Charles away, who knows. Probably more likely he ran out of room. Even the Priest’s house looks a little cluttered by his eccentric habit.
“Beautifully written mystery weaves a spell around the house and the people connected to it.” Goodreads reviewer
Pre-order The Women of Heachley Hall – release date 4 May.