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Medieval Manor Houses
in Wiltshire
Part 2
By Michael Ford

Norrington Manor OS.184 (ST966238)

East of SHAFTESBURY, isolated in the hills below Tisbury at Alvediston.

The 14c hall and vaulted undercroft survive as does the vaulted porch and doorway with a kings head corbel. The exterior features three transom windows.

The house is thought to have been built by John Gawen who purchased the property in 1377. The Gawens were one of England’s oldest families being the ‘Gawaines’ from the times of King Arthur. The estate was bought by the Wyndhams in 1658 and they initiated some rebuilding.

Parks Court OS.183 (ST866478)

Between WARMINSTER and WESTBURY in Upton Scudamore.

A fine view of this handsome house can be had from the roadside in the village.

The house dates from about 1350 built around a timber framed hall and seems to have been clad with stone around 1482 when some reconstruction took place. Externally the mullioned and transomed windows are the main impact feature.

The house takes its name from the De Parco family who lived here through several generations in the 15c. In the 17c and 18c the Seaman family farmed some 500 acres as tenants with the house being known as Acres Farm.

The War Department acquired the property in 1928 and it was not released until 1985 when the new owner carried out a major restoration including the reinstatement of the Great Hall.

Sheldon Manor OS.173 (ST887741)

West of CHIPPENHAM off a minor road.

The house was open to the public until recently but is currently being offered as a residence to let.

The main feature of the house is its oldest, the original porch, very large and dated around 1282. This is the oldest piece of true domestic architecture in Wiltshire. This is when the Gascelyn family were Lords of the Manor. It is thought that some building took place during the time of Edmund and Isabella Gascelyn between 1287 and 1307. The family continued in occupation until 1424 when the Manor was sold to Sir Walter Hungerford. The Hungerfords remained in possession for 260 years.

The detached chapel was built around 1450.

The Manor during this time passed between the Hungerfords and the Crown several times with two of the family being executed, one in 1461 and the other in 1540. Sheldon was granted to Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s widow until the Hungerford heir attained the age of 21. The property was farmed by tenants through the Hungerford years.

The Civil War appears to have taken its toll of the house and in 1659 the then tenant William Forster carried out some major rebuilding.

Sir Edward Hungerford sold the Manor in 1684 and in 1711 it changed hands again, bought by William Norris. The last Norris owner died in 1828. Through all this time tenant farmers continued to run the property.

When Sheldon was sold in 1911 to the Bailey family they carried out some alterations and moved in. The present owners Great Grandfather, Henry Gibbs, purchased the house in 1917.

Sheldon Manor was used as a location during the filming of Jane Austen’s ‘Persuasion’ by the BBC. The video shows off some of the rooms from the inside and the grounds but the best shot is an approach to the magnificent porch.

South Wraxall Manor OS.173 (ST834655)

Between BRADFORD-ON-AVON and BOX on a minor road.

The basic house was built in the 15c around a hall c.1435 which still has its roof and screen. There is a good porch and doorway and transom windows which all add to its character. A very fine feature is the gatehouse c.1510 with an oriel window.

Robert Long built the house and his descendant Walter Long added a large drawing room with many windows in the 16c. This is another beautiful and noble house along with its associated buildings which cover three sides of a courtyard.

It was here, as legend has it, that Sir Walter Long and Sir Walter Raleigh were the first to smoke tobacco in England and where servants threw water over Raleigh believing him to be on fire.

Sutton Veny Old Manor House OS.184 (ST902418)

South East of WARMINSTER in Sutton Veny.

The house is built around the hall of a 14c house. Some restoration took place in 1821.

Westwood Manor OS.173 (ST813590)

South West of BRADFORD-ON-AVON on a minor road.

This house is owned by the National Trust and may be visited from April to September.

The Manor goes back to Saxon times when King Ethelred granted the land to his servant Aelfnoth in 983 and later to his huntsman Leofwine. In Domesday times Westwood was in the possession of the Bishop of Winchester.

Thomas Culverhouse appears to be the founder of the house we see today since he undertook a considerable building programme here in 1480 around a small house which originated from about 1400.

Thomas Bailey was the next owner and his family lived there from 1492 until 1515. It is likely that Thomas was a clothier as were subsequent owners, the Hortons who remained there right through the 16c. In the early 17c the house passed by marriage to John Farewell. During the Farewell’s occupation much remodelling took place.

The house contains some very fine plasterwork particularly in the King’s Room where can be seen the figure of a Red Indian on a totem pole indicating a very early American connection, perhaps through trade. This is possibly the first representation of its kind in England.

The property declined during the 18c and 19c being used as a farm.

Edgar Lister took over the property around the turn to this century and during the early part carried out a sympathetic restoration. When he died in 1956 he left the house to the National Trust with an endowment for its upkeep.

Woodlands Manor OS.183 (ST815312)

Woodlands ManorBetween WARMINSTER and GILLINGHAM immediately below Mere.

The house can be seen very well from its front gate and is signposted as a ‘14th Century Manor House’ alongside the road. It is a very rewarding sight.

The Manor dates back to the Conquest when it was held by Guphaye. In 1360 Jane Guphaye married Thomas Doddington and Woodlands was her dowry. The hall with its roof and the first floor Chapel date from around this time. Part of its original moat still exists. Elizabethan windows indicate some rebuilding in the 16c. Elizabeth’s head was depicted in the ceiling of the bookroom during the Doddington’s residence.

Thomas Pitt, Earl of Londonderry bought the Manor in 1756 and it later passed to his daughter Lucy. She had eloped to marry Pierce Meyrick at 13 years of age and it was this marriage which persuaded Parliament to pass the Marriage Act to prevent young people marrying without parental consent. They later remarried and lived at Woodlands.

It is only over the past 150 years that the Manor has been brought back to its original state.

One of the more recent owners was Leigh Holman who was married to the actress Vivien Leigh of ‘Gone with the Wind’ fame. She took her stage name from her husband’s Christian name

The house is currently for sale.

Medieval Manor Houses in Wiltshire A-M
Other interesting Medieval Houses and Buildings
Other Buildings with Medieval Origins

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