This beautiful historic house in Much Marcle, Herefordshire, is a living monument to much of England’s history. It remains a home and not a museum although it contains a wealth of period furnishings, paintings and decorations.
The family trust which presently run Hellens, and her sister property Southside House www.southsidehouse.com, serves both the community and the general public, particularly in the field of education. We work to provide historical, environmental, and literary projects and activities, for schools and students of all ages, through the two properties.
History In 1096 the Manor was granted to the de Balun family who witnessed the signing of the Magna Carta by King John. Thereafter by marriage,deed or gift it passed through the powerful Mortimer family to the Lords Audleys by 1301, who were created Earls of Gloucester in 1337. A nephew, James, one of the Black Prince’s 12 boon companions,rented the Manor yearly from his uncle the Earl for a pair of silver spurs. He eventually leased it to Walter de Helyon whose family gave their name in time to the house. Their descendants still live here, and Walter’s effigy can be seen in St Bartholomew’s Church. (see www.muchmarcle.net).
Among Hellens’ attractions are the haunted rooms prepared for Bloody Mary Tudor and her tutor Fetherstone; the Stone Hall and its great fireplace bearing the Black Prince’s crest and the Minstrel Gallery.
The Music Room has a fine frieze and panelling. The gardens are being redeveloped along Tudor and Jacobean lines, reflecting the House’s history. They incorporate a rare 17th century octagonal dovecote, a walled knot garden, a yew labyrinth and a short woodland and pond walk. There are also the Derby Coach and family carriages to be seen, as well as the Old Cider Mill house.
More Recent HistoryIn the 19th century Hellens was owned by the Radcliffe Cooke family. Charles Radcliffe Cooke, born at Hellens, was the local MP. Known as the ”Member for Cider” he was a passsionate supporter of the farming industry in Herefordshire. He encouraged the growth of the cider industry, and was a great believer in the health-giving properties of cider. Our cider mill dates from his time. See Events & Activities.
In the early 20th century Hellens was rented for ten years to Ursula and Alex Whaley. Ursual was sister to Lascelles Abercrombie who founded the Dymock Poets. More information on the Dymock Poets can be found on the Dymock Village website.
The house then passed to Lady Helena Gleichen, queen Victoria’s great-niece, and sister to Dr Axel Munthe’s portrait painter, and thereafter to her cousin Hilda Pennington-Mellor. Hilda was also related to the Cookes, the Walwyns, and to the Dukes of Wharton. She and her son Malcolm Munthe created the charitable trust which runs Hellens today.
ConservationEach winter, for the last eight years, a group of ladies from the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS) have given up Friday mornings to work on conserving the historic fabrics and hangings in Hellens. We are deeply grateful for their efforts.
NADFAS are currently working on hand-embroidered Crewel worked curtains to replace the existing threadbare brocades in the Music Room. Designs have been drawn up and advanced sewing lessons are underway. It is expected that four to five hundred hours work is required to complete the job!