The Bath House

Near Stratford-upon-Avon - Sleeps 2

About this Landmark

Deep in the woods sits this octagonal folly - but the real surprises lie inside. The ceiling and walls of the main room are festooned with shells, while in the basement is a cold plunge pool, creating a startling retreat, 18th-century style.

  • Bed in Living RoomBed in Living Room
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Logs availableLogs available
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath
  • RemoteRemote

Beds 1 Double

  • Sleeps 2
  • 4 nights from £313
  • equivalent to £39.13 per person, per night

An 18th-century spa

The Bath House, at the end of a long and gated drive, has just one main room to live in but this is a room you may never wish to leave. The shells and decoration are so extraordinary that trips to nearby Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick or the Cotswolds may be deferred as this 18th-century spa entrances you with its fine views across the valley, a wood alive with wildlife and the pleasure of simply existing within this exuberant space.

The benefits of a cold bath were held to be almost limitless by medical opinion of the 18th century and many country houses were equipped with one. The Bath House here, it is thought, was designed in 1748 by the gentleman-architect Sanderson Miller for his friend Sir Charles Mordaunt. Good historical fun was had by all: the rough masonry of Antiquity, used for the bath chamber, is contrasted with the polished smoothness of the new Augustan age seen in the room above, where the bathers recovered.

Coolly dripping icicles and festoons of shells

The dome of the main room is hung with coolly dripping icicles and the walls have also been frosted with shells, arranged in festoons as if ‘by some invisible sea-nymph or triton for their private amusement.' This was the idea of Mrs Delany, better known for her flower pictures, who advised the Mordaunt daughters on where to find the shells. Their work was skilfully reproduced by Diana Reynell, after terrible damage by vandals.

Floor Plan

‘This must be the poshest bedsit in Warwickshire.’

‘It’s possible to wake up and think one’s a mermaid.’

From the logbook

Map & local info

The Bath House sits at the end of a long, gated driveway, deep in a peaceful, woodland setting. It is a short drive from the village of Wellesbourne, which is renowned for its outdoor market, one of the largest in the UK. 

Stratford-upon-Avon is about 20 minutes away by car, where you can find shops, restaurants and cafes along the beautiful river. It is also William Shakespeare's birthplace, which you can visit in the town centre. The world famous Royal Shakespeare Company is located in Stratford. Follow in the footsteps of decades of RSC stars (including Judy Dench and Peter O'Toole amongst many others) with a trip to the Dirty Duck pub before or after the show.

Follow the signposted route for a pleasant walk to visit Anne Hathaway's cottage in the hamlet of Shottery, just outside Stratford-upon-Avon. 

The castle at Warwick and the Royal Pump Rooms at Leamington Spa are just some of the things to see in these nearby towns, both of which deserve a visit.

Experience one of the country's greatest gardens at Hidcote Manor, created by the talented horticulturalist Major Lawrence Johnston. Keen gardeners will enjoy the inspiring nature of the delightful outdoor 'rooms' that he created.

For more information on things to do during your stay at The Bath House, please see our Pinterest page.

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

The Bath House
Near Stratford-upon-Avon - Sleeps 2
Clear directions

‘This must be the poshest bedsit in Warwickshire.’

‘It’s possible to wake up and think one’s a mermaid.’

From the logbook

Your questions answered

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    No.
  • How is the property accessed?

    By a track from the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Stratford-upon-Avon – 8 miles
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    Yes, one space about 15m from the property.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There are electric night storage heaters and an open fire.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Logs may be purchased and delivered under a private arrangement. Further details will be provided with your booking confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There is one bathroom with a bath.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    The stairs in the property are many, steep and narrow.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    The property is set in open woodland but the Landmark Trust owns virtually no land around the building. The Landowner has asked that for reasons of safety, people should not walk in these private woods.

    Booking and Payment

  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact [email protected]
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there lavatory rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide lavatory rolls and a bar of soap, per basin but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.

A wall worn by water drops

'The stucco... is meant to represent a wall worn by water drops, with icicles sticking to it. The festoons of shells are additional ornaments; or how could they come in that form unless some invisible sea nymph or triton placed them there for their private amusement? I should not wonder, indeed, that so pretty a place allured them.' Mary Delany 1754

The Bath House was built about 1748 for Sir Charles Mordaunt of Walton Hall. Like many of his contemporaries, Sir Charles enjoyed making alterations and improvements to his house and estate and took a fashionable interest in architecture. He was one of the local circle of gentlemen connoisseurs and amateur architects, which included Lord Lyttleton of Hagley, Sir Roger Newdigate of Arbury and not least, his good friend Sanderson Miller of Radway.

Almost certainly it was the last of these, Sanderson Miller, who provided designs for the Bath House. The building bears a close resemblance to his known works, such as the Shire Hall in Warwick; and he had a particular fondness for rooms of octagonal form, as here. No drawings exist, but in October 1749, Miller noted in his diary that he was settling 'accounts with Hitchcox about Sir Charles' Bath.' William Hitchcox was both Miller's stonemason and his valet. Since he seldom worked for anyone else, his involvement at Walton provides some firm evidence for attributing the design to Miller.

Since Classical times, exotic buildings have formed an important part of garden design. In the landscape gardens of the 18th century these were carefully placed to appear unexpectedly in the course of meandering walks, sometimes chanced on close to, sometimes glimpsed from a distance, adding interest and variety to the scene. On a practical level, such buildings provided shelter, and a place to enjoy the view, take a rest and have picnics. Along with temples and towers, bath houses were also popular, having strong associations with the Classical past, and the baths of Ancient Rome. They served moreover a double purpose.

At that time people took a bath mainly for medicinal reasons. We know Sir Charles suffered from gout and his doctor would certainly have advised him that a cold dip would be beneficial for this ailment. A cold bath was also held to calm the nerves, improve digestion, invigorate the spirits, and even help to retain 'an equal bodily weight.' Lengthy immersion was not advised, in case it resulted in a 'Horror!'

The elegant octagonal room above the bath chamber is dominated by the plaster icicles, or stalactites, and the shell-work festoons, a refinement of the cave-like grotto below. It seems that this decoration was the idea of Mary Delany, whose sister Anne Dewes lived at neighbouring Wellesbourne Hall. Mrs Delany is better known for her paper flower pictures, but she also excelled in shell-work. She decorated her own home near Dublin in this way, and also possessed an impressive shell collection. She sent a barrel of shells to Walton in 1754, and probably helped in their arrangement, supervising her sister and Sir Charles' daughters.

Having served as the setting for many picnics and tea-parties, and even a Victorian dinner to celebrate a christening, the Bath House finally fell out of use after the Second World War. Efforts by its owners to keep it in repair proved unequal to the destructive energy of vandals. Eventually it was brought to the attention of the Landmark Trust and a lease was signed in 1987.

A 20th-century Mrs Delany

The Walton Bath House was fully restored between 1987-91 by the Landmark Trust, under the direction of architect William Hawkes of Stratford-upon-Avon. The work was carried out by Linford-Bridgeman, a firm which specialises in historic building repair. The job of recreating the plaster icicles fell to Bill Salter, of T.E. Ashworth, with support from Geoff Orton of Trumpers. Diana Reynell was our 20th-century Mrs Delany, responsible for the shell-work.

The task that had to be accomplished was a daunting one. In 1987, the vaulted ceiling had fallen in, most of the plaster on the walls had gone, and only shadows of the festoons survived. Windows and doors were broken, and very few floorboards were left. More seriously, the masonry vault of the bath chamber was in danger of collapse, and the whole building was showing a tendency to slide down the hill, causing the walls to crack. Fortunately, William Hawkes had made survey drawings before the building became completely derelict. The owners of the Walton estate had taken photographs of the interior at the same time, and had saved some of the shells. This information, together with a careful survey of what was left, and historical research made it possible to work out the exact appearance of the main room.

Before any work could begin inside, the structure had to be made safe.  The roof was repaired, and given a new covering of slates. The walls were patched with new stone where necessary, disturbing the existing masonry as little as possible. Lime mortar was used, although reinforced concrete was used to form a new floor to secure the vault of the bath chamber. For further strength steel wires were threaded through several of the stones, to anchor them from above. Much of the surviving joinery was found to be sound, if battered. The window and door surrounds were repaired and put back in place.  New sections of dado rail and skirting were made to match bits that were still there. A new floor of oak boards was laid. The window sashes were renewed, with the heavier glazing bars (common to the mid-18th century) and new crown glass from France.

The exact positions of the shell festoons had been carefully marked by boards fixed to the wall, around which the new plaster could be applied. The original boards, to which the shells had been fixed with plaster of paris, were handed over to Diana Reynell, to start the process of recreating the shell-work. The new shells copy as closely as possible those used by Mrs Delany, both in type and arrangement. Each festoon is eight feet long, and some of the shells, such as the conches and tritons, are very large.  This caused some alarm when the festoons were seen at ground level, but back in their proper positions on the walls, they were exactly right in scale. For the ceiling, new plaster icicles were made with moulds copied from old ones found under the floorboards. A short length of old cornice that survives above the main door, and old photographs, provided evidence for the way in which they were fixed. The central ceiling boss had vanished, and old photographs provided little evidence for its design. A new one had to be created and its form based on an idea of what its predecessor might have been like.

The chimneypiece is also a new design, since only the faintest traces survived of the original one. Its shell decoration echoes that of a chimneypiece at Wellesbourne Hall, probably the work of Mrs Delany or her sister. The central rosette contains the few surviving 18th-century shells.

A new drive and path were created and water and electricity brought to the building. The yew trees, planted in the 18th century to give an impression of antiquity, were cut back. Finally, a vista was cleared through the woods in front, to give a view of the countryside, and at the same time enable this elegant building to be more widely appreciated.

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.