Our focus was Wightwick Manor, having seen part of a TV programme showing a pre Raphaelite collection in a country house in the Midlands. Upton House was a stop on the way, and a fantastic experience. As we went through the entrance, we were asked to decide if the motto 'A fortune well spent' applied.
Upton House belonged in the 1930s to one of the richest men in Britain, Walter Samuel, 2nd Lord Bearsted whose father had founded Shell.
We started with the garden which because the house is built beside a valley, is on different levels making it intruiging with several very different areas. Although the bones of Sir Rushout Cullen's 17th Century garden are still there, it was brought up to date in 1927 by Lady Bearsted working alongside her adviser, Kitty Lloyd Jones and head gardener, Mr Tidman.
We found a stunning garden, starting with the borders at the rear of the house looking out onto an expanse of lawn, having no idea of what lies beyond:
There was also an exhibition of Shell memorabilia on loan, but no photos allowed in there. There seems though to be Upton House's collection of Shell posters which are fabulous, persuading you that 'You can be sure of Shell'
So Part 1 of the tour exceeded all expectations, do visit Upton House when you can.