People can take a look behind the scenes at Himley Hall this summer with a season of guided tours starting in July.
Visitors will have the opportunity to look round rooms not usually open to the public and can learn how successive owners of the hall have made changes to and stamped their own personality on the historic building.
The extensive guided tours take in the servants’ quarters and cellars, the butler’s sitting room and the Earl of Dudley’s bedrooms. Visitors can also see the refurbished north wing complete with art deco style swimming pool room and cinema bar, now used as a popular wedding venue.
The tour of the hall lasts for approximately 90 minutes and is followed by tea, coffee and homemade biscuits. Tours cost £8 per person with refreshments included in the price.
A short film about the tour can be viewed on Dudley council's youtube channel.
There has been a hall on the site since the 1600s when the original Himley Hall was a moated manor house, which stood next to the medieval church and village. For over four centuries, it served as a home to the Lords of Dudley and their knights.
It has seen many changes over the years with significant work undertaken in the 1800s when John William Ward became 4th Viscount Dudley. To reflect his growing status and wealth he brought in the famous London architect William Atkinson, creating the template for the hall as it is today.
In 1920, Witley Court was sold to Viscount Ednam, a close friend of the royal family. Himley became a regular weekend retreat for royal visitors. During this period the hall was brought up to contemporary standards, with the addition of a terrace around the hall, a tennis court and a nine-hole golf course. Modern amenities were introduced to the hall including plumbing, central heating, a cinema and a swimming pool. As an up-to-date, luxurious home, it was so fashionable that in 1934 the Duke and Duchess of Kent spent the first two weeks of their honeymoon at Himley.
Cllr Ian Kettle, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said:
It is a delight to be able to confirm that Himley Hall is once again hosting these tours, which give people the chance to see parts of the building not usually open to the general public. The tours provide a fascinating insist into the life of this remarkable hall, its varied and rich history, its architecture and the many esteemed individuals who have visited and resided within it.
Tours start at 7.15pm and 7.30pm on selected Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 10,12 and 18 July and 2, 8, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30 August. There are 24 places available each evening with each tour accommodating up to 12 people.
Places are limited and must be booked in advance