Our History

The 18th Earl of Pembroke & Montgomery

"The love of high performance cars runs deep at Wilton. In 1909 my great grandfather Arthur Wignall Tate (grandson of Henry Tate, founder of the Tate Gallery) was given a 1908 ex-French Grand Prix Mercedes for his 21st birthday! He put mudguards on it, and one of the fastest and most exotic machines mankind had yet produced became his daily driver for 10 years. Through WCS, I'm proud to celebrate the stories of all who share a little of Arthur Tate's pioneering passion." William Pembroke


Wilton House is unique. The Earls of Pembroke have lived here for over 470 years, and between them they have contributed an incomparable amount to the literary and artistic history of England. It combines splendid architecture with one of the world's finest privately-owned art collections.

Breathtakingly beautiful, Wilton House and gardens are among the most celebrated in England. The House was the favourite retreat of successive monarchs, primary among them King Charles I who gave his royal architect, Inigo Jones, to Pembroke to remodel the house, with interiors by John Webb. The result, via Jones's brilliant attaché, Isaac de Caux, was a home fit for a king.

To this day, Wilton's 17th Century interiors are considered the finest in the country and, with successive Earls being the most prolific arts patrons of their age, Wilton's art collection is stupendous. Over 300 great works are on display.


Wilton's history in story-telling is monumental. Mary Sidney, the 2nd Earl's wife, was a celebrated writer. Shakespeare was a close friend, and Mary, her husband and both their sons were his patrons. In fact, Shakespeare's First Folio was dedicated to them. It is reported the play 'As You Like It' was first performed at Wilton and 'Henry VI' and 'The Taming of the Shrew' were both first staged by Pembroke's Players (née Pembroke's Men) - the Earl's touring company of which the Bard himself was sometimes a member. Mary's 'academy' of writers and artists included the great and the good of the day and spearheaded a long tradition of literary and arts patronage.

In more modern times, the movie industry has continued Wilton's story-telling tradition: 35 movies and TV series have been filmed at Wilton since 1971. 


The first truly passionate motorist at Wilton House was Lord Pembroke’s great grandfather Arthur Wignall Tate, who, after cutting his teeth aged 21 on an ex-Grand Prix Mercedes went on to own many extraordinary and historically significant cars. He was renowned for owning the finest Mercedes collection in England.

William, the current Earl of Pembroke, has an eclectic collection which includes several important classic and modern cars, and he is an enthusiastic racer. His first event at Wilton House in 2009 was a low-key supercar meet supporting a local charity. Today, with the all-new Wilton Classic and Supercar weekend for 2017, the show has international status.

Wilton House

In the last few years Wilton House has entered an important new era in its history as Lord and Lady Pembroke have continued its major and painstaking restoration - a project that the 17th Earl started in the 1990s. Once regarded as the finest country house in England, the scale of the investment and the standard of workmanship has attracted huge and often award-winning admiration from many quarters. The main rooms and the 21 acres of gardens and parkland in which the Inigo Jones masterpiece sits are now finer than ever before with interiors to rival the finest palaces in the country.

Access to the House during Wilton Classic and Supercar will depend on ticket type and status, but the State Rooms and grounds are open to the public at specific times of year. Please click on the House website link below to learn more.

Wilton House