Set in rolling countryside outside Stokenchurch in Buckinghamshire (Jct 5, M40), Wormsley is a private estate and has been home to the Getty Family since 1985. The Estate is first mentioned in official records in 1106, and since 1547 has been in only two families; the Scropes/Fanes and the Gettys.
On acquiring Wormsley, the late Sir Paul & Lady Victoria Getty embarked on a significant renovation of the Estate over a seven-year period, which was completed in 1992. This involved renovating more 30 buildings throughout the Estate and bringing Wormsley House and The Walled Gardens back to life after years of neglect. This improvement program included some wonderful additions such as the Lake in the Deer Park, the world-renowned Cricket Ground (and the establishment of the Sir Paul Getty XI) and the addition of the castellated Library, which today houses one of the finest private collections of books & manuscripts in the country.
Since 2011, and continuing the Family’s long-standing support of the Arts, the Estate has also been home to Garsington Opera. Architect Robin Snell created a wonderful 600-seat Opera Pavilion located in the Deer Park near Home Farm, which hosts the two-month long summer opera season.
In 2014, the same architect also designed The Island Pavilion to house some of the Getty family’s sculpture collection – it also provides a perfect location for small gatherings, events and private dining experiences. The Estate’s association with Robin Snell continued through 2016 when he was commissioned to design The Boundary Room, a hospitality and event space for 300 guests overlooking the Cricket Ground.
Primarily a private family home, for a limited number of days each year, the Estate provides the perfect canvas for a small number of private individuals and organisations to hold events such as meetings, conferences, private dining experiences, festivals, corporate days (up to 5,000 guests), family days, cricket and country sports days, private parties and weddings.
The beauty of the Estate, its vistas, traditional Chiltern buildings, roads, gardens & woodlands, also makes it an excellent location for commercial TV & Film production.
Since the inaugural cricket match in May 1992, Wormsley has welcomed people to enjoy the Estate by coming to play and watch cricket – including some of the world’s greatest cricketers who have played for and against the Sir Paul Getty XI. In addition, the Estate welcomes the artists and Opera-lovers who gather each year for Garsington Opera’s performances in the Opera Pavilion, bibliophiles and academics who visit the world famous Sir Paul Getty Library.
We are committed to protecting the 900-year history and heritage and privacy of this family Estate whilst enabling the wonderful things that Wormsley has to offer to be enjoyed by a wider public.
We look forward to welcoming you to Wormsley.
Although Wormsley is not directly mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086, its existence at that time, and probably before, is implied in the charter of 1106 which shows that a hide of land at “The place called Wormsley” was granted to Abingdon Abbey and incorporated into the larger Lewknor Estate.
By 1277, the Hundred Rolls Survey showed that the estate was in the hands of John de Lewknors and it remained in the family until the late fourteenth century when Edmund Brundenell claimed possession. In 1456, Edmund Brundenell’s son left Wormsley to his daughter Alice and her husband Richard Waller and it remained in the hands of the Wallers until 1574 when William Waller sold Wormsley to Adrian Scrope of Hambledon. Adrian died three years after acquiring Wormsley and was succeeded by his son Robert who established the Tudor mansion which forms the core of Wormsley House to this day.
It was Robert’s son, another Adrian, who became the most notorious occupant of Wormsley. Although his father Robert was a Puritan and was suspected by Charles I of sympathising with the Parliamentarian cause, Adrian went a step further and fought on the Parliamentarian side in the Civil War in 1642, narrowly escaping death at Edgehill. Although he became disillusioned with the Parliamentary cause he remained prominent, becoming Governor of Bristol and was finally appointed by Oliver Cromwell as one of the Judges at the trial of Charles I in 1649 – and so becoming one of the ‘Regicides’ as the signatories of the King’s death warrant are called.
When Charles II was restored in 1660, Adrian Scope was arrested. The House of Commons had sympathised with Scope and would have taken a year’s rent of Wormsley as punishment but the House of Lords insisted that he face trial. In spite of the indemnity which should have been conferred on him by the Treaty of Breda, he became one of seven of the late King’s Judges to be condemned to death. Following Scrope’s execution at Charing Cross, the estate was confiscated for a year, before being returned to his son, Thomas in 1662.
Thomas and his wife Mary had a son (John) and four daughters. John remained a bachelor and in 1714 he settled Wormsley on his sister and co-heiress Anne who was married to Henry Fane, a kinsman of the Earls of Westmorland. It was their youngest son Henry who inherited Wormsley in 1762 and the Estate remained in the Fane family for the next 222 years, over which period the Estate’s fortunes waxed and waned with the changing economic times.
For long periods the Estate prospered and it was a recognised model of good agricultural and forestry management. Additional parcels of land were added and houses and cottages were built and restored. Successive generations of Fanes represented Oxfordshire constituencies in Parliament. Perhaps the highlight of the good times was the Wormsley Tournament, held in 1840, which was a fully-fledged re-enactment of a medieval tournament and watched by 5,000 local people.
However, rather inevitably, there were less positive periods and by the mid-nineteenth century the Estate had to be heavily mortgaged to pay off the gambling debts of John Augustus Fane. At the end of the century, Wormsley was left unoccupied for over 20 years and it was only in 1908 that Frederick Fane returned to live on the Estate, until his death in 1931 when Wormsley passed to his son Francis.
The problems of running an estate at that time increased as war broke out in 1939 and there was talk of the estate being sold. Nothing came of this and when Francis died in 1943 the Estate passed to John C.L. Fane, the last of the Fanes to own Wormsley. He continued to run the estate in a benevolent fashion, with cricket matches (in what is now the Deer Park), sporting events and horse breeding all playing part in the estate economy.
In time, however, a combination of difficult financial circumstances and lack of modernisation proved too much of a challenge and in 1985 the estate was put on the market, to be acquired later that year by Sir Paul Getty.