Life Offbeat Video

By James Somper


A National Trust enthusiast has spent over 30 years building his very own stately home – in miniature!

Jon Trenchard, 42, began building the epic model – which he has named Hordle Castle – at the age of twelve after he and his dad built one of the rooms in the castle as a one off project.

But Jon quickly spawned a grand plan to build an entire castle in the style of a National Trust property – and says that the painstaking project could take the rest of his life to complete.

Each and every feature of the castle is inspired by a room or item from an actual historic home and Jon says he’s spent thousands of hours intricately crafting his creations.

So far the professional actor from Forest Hill, South London has built eight rooms and has at least a dozen more to complete and even wants to install miniature visitor signs, ropes and even a cafe, just like a real National Trust house.



He said: “My friends think I’m mad and to be honest I think I’m a bit bonkers too.

“Getting into miniatures was kind of inevitable, my dad was into model railways and my mum was into dolls houses.

“As a kid they always took me to National Trust properties.

“Growing up I thought I would always want my own stately home and I thought working as an actor I probably wouldn’t be able to afford one so I thought why not build one myself.

“The idea kind of began from there.

“Even when I was young I used to pick up scraps of paper and plot how I’d design the castle.”

Jon says that the plans for the so far eight-room castle is based on specific rooms in some of his favourite National Trust and English Heritage houses and estates.

He hopes to one day even write a guide book to the castle in the style of one for a conventional – and bigger – stately home.

The castle’s attic room is inspired by the nursery at Kingston Lacy in Dorset while the castle’s staircase is based on the main staircase in the Jacobean manor Hatfield House in Hertfordshire.

Hordle so far boasts a stunning Turkish bath, a wine cellar, battlements, a great hall, entrance hall, stair case, escape tunnel and even its very own set of battlements.

Each of the minute features has been made by hand and Jon says that some of the rooms have taken to years to complete such is the level of detail.


He uses recycled materials from old cereal packets to bits of cardboard and egg boxes to make the different parts of his beloved Hordle.

Jon also collects small items of dolls house furniture to add to the model.

One of the room’s even has it’s very own Dutch cabinet dolls house which is on a tiny 1:144 scale.

A highly detailed fireplace in the entrance hall is made from an old cereal packet while the main castle staircase is cut out of seven layers of card that Jon painstakingly made over a year.

He said: “I’ve worked on it whenever I’ve been able to.

“It’s tough to pinpoint my favourite part of the castle because each feature is taken from my favourite parts of real country houses so it’s full of pleasure for me.

“I think the joy of the project is that I can make everything in the way I like.”

Jon has also spent hundreds of hours drawing out stunning stained glass windows for the castle’s chapel using just a sharpie and a few sheets of transparent plastic sheeting.

The foliage in the chapel roof was made totally from scratch by Jon who had to cut out each minute leaf detail.

The castle even has its own well stocked wine cellar and escape passage – all in miniature.

Jon estimates that if he ever finishes Hordle it span 4ft square and 3ft high.

He said: “It’s taken most of my life to complete.

“It all began with the great hall when I was a boy. My dad cut the frames out in plywood and I built it from there.

“I went to dolls house fairs and collected items over time.

“When I was at university the hall just lay in my brother’s shed pretty much unloved.

“I did bits and pieces on it but it all changed eleven years ago when I moved into my current flat. At last I had some space!

“A lot of the model had become damp so I had to put the paint on again across most of it. I thought the best way to make it damp proof was to put a roof over it.”

Jon has so far completed eight rooms in the castle and says it could take him the rest of his life to finish the model which he says is only one third complete.

He said: “Miniaturists say nothing is ever finished.

“In the pipeline I have the designs for the rest of the castle which is another ten rooms at least so I just hope I live long enough to complete it.

“I also need to do the walls and the exteriors. That could take me a few years at least.

“There’ll be a library, a kitchen and a billiard room.

“My dream is that I’ll be able to leave the castle to the National Trust when I die. Hopefully it might even be complete.”