Sadly, it seems the house is now let out by the National Trust as a holiday home but if you get the opportunity, go!
From the grass terrace, climb up the steps to the loggia. Built by William Knight between 1519 and 1521, the Ambulatory lies at right angles to the house.
Steps lead down from the Ambulatory to an area of grass with a few fruit trees and some terraces. The fishponds are cordoned off while the swimming pool has been replaced by another area of grass.
On your visit, pop into the Romanesque hall house next door. It was built c1140 with later additions.
The main house at Horton Court has been let to tenants. The website is no longer accessible. It is not known when this important 16th building will again be open to the public.
Owned by the National Trust.
What is so extraordinary about Horton, is how aware Knight was of the siting of the house. Most Tudor gardens were enclosed by high walls with a formal garden laid out with herberies and painted palings. But at Horton, Knight built a garden loggia combining the medieval form of cloister with new ideas from Italy. Knight had probably seen Bramante’s loggias at the Cortile del Belvedere and the Spedali degli Innocenti in Florence.
Walk between the slender columns of the Ambulatory to the four stone medallions on the back wall. Hannibal, Attila the Hun and Nero are on the top row while beneath is Emperor Augustus. Dismissed by Alan Brooks as ‘recalling in a cruder way those at Hampton Court’, the roundels are stylistically very different, more caricatures than portraits. Did Knight bring back coins as souvenirs from Italy which were then carved into medallions? It seems strange that unlike the rhythmic columns, the roundels are asymmetrical – were they inserted after the Ambulatory was built?
Knight (1476–1547) had an extraordinary careeer. Educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford, Knight went on to study law at Ferrara. In 1495 he was admitted to Court and was made one of Henry VII’s secretaries. By 1515 he was Ambassador with Sir Edward Poynings to Prince Charles (later Charles V) and was at the Field of the Cloth of Gold as Chaplain and Clerk of the Closet to Henry VIII.
Knight travelled extensively in Spain, Switzerland, the Low Countries and Italy becoming Archdeacon of Chester and Richmond and in 1526, was made Secretary to King Henry VIII. The following year, Henry sent him to Rome to plead with Pope Clement that the King could have two wives simultaneously or alternatively to proclaim Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon invalid. Wolsey was against the idea of Knight visiting the Pope although he conceded that Knight was ‘a wise, trusty, faithful subject, and counsellor, to whom more faith is to be given than any stranger’. Unsuccessful, Knight returned home. He was made Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1541.