Killerton House

Killerton House: An Accidental Estate

"The estates are not just a property, they are communities of people." -Lady Anne Acland, 1942.


In 1622, the Acland family--who later contributed money to the founding of Kenyon College and have a street in Gambier named for them--acquired the property on which Killerton House now stands. In 1775, Sir Thomas Dyke Acland hoped to build a grand estate on the land, but the plans were never realized--the house as it now stands in Killerton was intended to be a temporary residence. What visitors can view today is a beautiful Georgian 'accidental estate,' tucked amongst many acres of gardens and parkland.


Throughout the 1800s, the Aclands entertained guests in their elaborate country house, filled with classic examples of Georgian architecture, including large windows and domed ceilings. Grand rooms are filled with crystal chandeliers, marble pillars, and other decorative items that indicate the family’s wealth and power. Local touches adorn every room in the house, from family mementos in the sitting room to books on Devon and Exeter in the library. When we visited, students from the Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education were teaching visitors how to finger-spell their names. Though Killerton is a beautiful estate full of opulent artifacts, it still very much feels like a local gathering place.


Upstairs, Killerton transforms from an elegant historic estate to a modern museum display. Throughout the upper floors of the estate where bedrooms once sat, visitors can walk through an extensive fashion exhibition. With hoop skirts and flapper dresses, Killerton’s permanent fashion collection is a fascinating look through centuries of fashion innovation. Alongside the historic pieces were creations by fashion students from Exeter College, displaying Killerton’s support of the arts in the local community. 'Fashion to Dye For' is running through 2016.


Killerton was donated to the National Trust in 1944, cementing its status as an architectural and artistic gem. Though Killerton may have been an ‘accidental estate,’ it still reveals a wealth of knowledge on life in Georgian England and how culture can be found even in the Devon countryside.


Works Cited

“Welcome to Killerton” Pamphlet. National Trust, 2016. Print.

Text © Deirdre Sheridan, 2016

Photographs ©  Victoria Ungvarsky, 2016


Killerton House, Broadclyst