09:30AM, Friday 09 August 2019
About 600 people walked through the doors of historic Taplow Court on Sunday.
The open day at the Taplow Court Grand Culture Centre was hosted by the ‘custodians’ of the mid-19th century mansion.
SGI (Soka Gakkai International)-UK is part of a network of Buddhists around the world who follow the teachings of the 13th century Japanese sage, Nichiren Daishonin.
The general director of SGI-UK, Robert Harrap, said: “In the Eighties we were looking for a new centre and Taplow Court came on the market and we were fortunate enough to purchase it in 1988 before moving here in 1989.”
There are 160,000 SGI members in Europe and Taplow Court is the national headquarters for SGI-UK.
On Sunday from 2-5pm, admission to the building was free and people had access to the main house and the SGI-UK conference building called Ikeda New Century Hall (INCH), which was opened in 2001.
In the main building the public wandered around the dining room, the Desborough Room (a long room with chandeliers), the Centre for Applied Buddhism library, Norman Hall and the Blue Room.
In the INCH visitors entered the chanting rooms and the foyer where artwork is exhibited.
They also had the opportunity to sit and enjoy a cream tea in the canteen - which used to be Lord Desborough’s indoor tennis court.
The history of the land of Taplow Court dates back to the Iron Age when a hillfort covered the site and in the garden a seventh century Anglo-Saxon burial mound can still be seen.
There has been a manor house there since before 1066 and ‘during its long
history this building has been plundered, burnt down, rebuilt and remodelled several times’.
A dwelling built in about 1630 forms the foundation of the present house but during the English Civil War it too was damaged by both Royalists and Parliamentarians.
After passing through the hands of the 1st Earl of Orkney, who bought the house in about 1700, to the 5th, the house emerged in the Georgian style.
Charles Pascoe Grenfell acquired the house in 1852 and it is he who is responsible for its Jacobean and French Gothic features.
In 1867 at the age of 11, Charles’ grandson, William Henry Grenfell, later Lord Desborough, inherited the 900 acres of the Taplow estate.
Today Taplow Court is used by SGI-UK to host weekend courses for its members, mid-week meetings and talks.
Robert said: “Taplow Court is a place not only for our members to come and learn more about Buddhism but also for the wider local community.
“We are delighted to make our facilities available particularly to local charity organisations for events such as fund raising for local causes.
“Whether our neighbours come and enjoy the gardens on one of our open days, or come to a charity concert, there are lots of ways people can come and experience the beauty of Taplow Court.”
The next open day is on Sunday, September 15. Visit https://sgi-uk.org/Local-Community/SGI-Centres/Taplow-Court for information.
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