Charlton House is one of the finest examples of Jacobean architecture in England. When it was built, in 1607, the area was rural, with Charlton Village being a tiny hamlet.
Built between 1607 and 1612 for Sir Adam Newton, who was tutor to Henry, Prince of Wales - the eldest son of James I, Charlton House is one of the finest surviving Jacobean manor houses in England. The grounds have undergone a number of changes over the last four centuries but remain evocative of times gone by.
The house incorporated the ideas of the Renaissance, which were beginning to filter into England from Europe at this time. Symmetry and balanced proportions were important to Renaissance architecture and ideas, and Charlton House was built on a double E-Shaped plan. The chimney stacks, towers, parapets and balustrades stand out against the skyline and the house was built with a great deal of ornament both inside and outside in the fashion of the time. The oak fireplace in the Jenkins Room bears the date 1612.
Charlton House is built of the red brick characteristic of the period, relieved with white stone quoins and dressings. Its shape is that of a shallow H, an oblong with slightly projecting cross pieces at each end. Externally, the chief features are the richly decorated porch which stands in a bay projecting from the middle of the west front. Internally the house is remarkable for the plaster-work of the ceilings, the numerous interesting chimney-pieces, and the staircase.
By the 1830's the house was in need of renovation. Sir Thomas Maryon-Wilson, grandson of Sir Thomas and Dame Jane, Started extensive modernisation of the property, installing a bathroom, wardrobe rooms and later the minstrel gallery across the hall. In his youth he had gone on a Grand Tour of Europe where he acquired a taste for antiques. The house was filled with his collections and the grounds with wild animals such as wolves, bears, eagles and reindeer.