Renishaw Hall in Derbyshire has been the seat of the Sitwell family since 1625. Its remarkable story is only matched by that of the family who have dwelled there, and with whose fortunes it has risen and fallen, only to rise again.
Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell were some of the brightest stars of 1920s literary society. They counted among their friends and acquaintances some of the greatest writers and artists of the age, many of whom came to love the beautiful Renishaw Hall (Whistler and Evelyn Waugh were frequent visitors).
Infested by ghosts as some houses are by rats, Renishaw has had colourful owners since it was built by a Cavalier turned Roundhead – a Regency Buck who hunted a tiger with his hounds then added the great rooms. The creator of today's Renishaw was eccentric Sir George, who laid out the beautiful gardens, bought the Italian furniture and had Sargent paint his family, but was belittled in his son Osbert's biography. Recent restoration has revealed the spell that caused Rex Whistler to call Renishaw 'the most exciting house in England'.
But the story of the house does not begin – or end – there. In telling the tale of the Sitwells through the centuries, Desmond Seward also takes us on a tour through English history, to the house's restoration at the end of the twentieth century, and the return to its former glory as a jewel of British heritage.,