The Estate at Badminton contains the remains of several Roman Villas, and Badminton is recorded in the Domesday Book as ‘Madmintune’. The medieval House was owned by the Boteler family from whom, in 1612, Thomas Somerset, fourth Earl of Worcester, purchased the manors of Great and Little Badminton. Some years later, he gave Badminton to one of his sons, Sir Thomas Somerset who was the first to make what would be many significant alterations to the original House.
The Somersets are descended from John of Gaunt, and the dukedom of Beaufort was created by Charles II in 1682, being granted to Sir Thomas’ great nephew, Henry Somerset, 3rd Marquess of Worcester in reward for his service to the Royalists in the Civil War. The first Duke and Duchess carried out extensive works on the House, Gardens and Grounds.
The origins of the sport of badminton are understood to date back to the games of battledore and shuttlecock played in ancient civilisations in Europe and Asia. It is thought that army officers in 1873 played a derivative of these earlier games at Badminton House, and perhaps this is how the sport became commonly referred to as badminton. The Entrance Hall reflects the dimensions of a modern Badminton Court.
Successive Dukes made significant enhancements to the House, adding pediments, pavilions and cupolas. They involved some of the foremost architects and landscape designers, including William Kent, James Gibbs, Charles Bridgeman and “Capability” Brown.
In the gardens and parkland there have been similar changes over time, including the development of formal gardens, follies and planting schemes. Worcester Lodge was described by Nikolaus Pevsner as one of the ten best buildings in England.
Kings and Queens have visited Badminton over the centuries. Charles II stayed in the house, as did William of Orange on his return from the Battle of the Boyne. Our Queen’s grandmother, Queen Mary the wife of George V, stayed at Badminton for much of World War II, as a guest of her niece, the Duchess of Beaufort.
The present Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have also visited for the annual Horse Trials. It was the 10th Duke of Beaufort whose idea it was to hold an event in his Gloucestershire park in order that British riders could train for future international events. The first event was held in 1949.
The current Duke and Duchess of Beaufort continue to improve and invest in the Estate and are passionate about preserving its assets for the long term. Whilst Badminton House remains primarily a private family home, it offers a variety of wonderful venues for weddings, private parties or corporate events. Private tours of the House and Gardens can also be arranged – please see our ‘Visit Us’ section for more details. Do please contact the Estate Office team with any enquiries.