The History of the Gatehouse

The Gatehouse at Upton Cressett is Grade 1 listed. It was built by Richard Cressett in 1580 and is regarded one of the finest Elizabethan gatehouses in the country. It is often compared to the Tower at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent in which Vita Sackville-West created her library and wrote her books.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine, nephew of Charles I and commander of the royalist troops in the Civil War, reportedly hid and slept in the top floor bedroom to escape Parliamentary troops. According to historical sources, Prince Rupert garrisoned ‘60 royal horse’ at Upton Cressett. The suite is named after him and offers fine views looking out across the historic deer park that the royalist cavalry would have ridden across before reaching the Gatehouse.

A set of painted linen tapestries in The Gatehouse by Adam Dant, known as ‘The Four Seasons of Prince Rupert’, celebrate his life as a soldier, naval commander, print-maker and scientist, as well as his visit to Upton Cressett in the Civil War.

Other public figures who have stayed, or visited Upton Cressett, throughout its colourful and romantic history include King Edward V, Charles I, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Sir John Betjeman, John Piper, diarist James Lees-Milne, novelist Sebastian Faulks and Elizabeth Hurley.

The Gatehouse has been featured on the cover of Country Life. In his book ‘England’s Thousand Best Houses’ Sir Simon Jenkins describes The Gatehouse as ‘an Elizabethan gem’. It is entered through imposing entrance gates which lead into a medieval apple garden with a Tudor style fountain that evokes the atmosphere of the Elizabethan Age when Richard Cressett built the Gatehouse during the reign of Elizabeth I. The most detailed architectural description of The Gatehouse is by the eminent architectural critic Jeremy Musson, formerly Architectural Editor of Country Life.

The Gatehouse is also used a few times a year by the Upton Cressett Foundation, a writers’ retreat for authors.