Medieval Manor Houses
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
Englands 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)
WARMINSTER and WESTBURY in Upton Scudamore.
A fine view of this handsome
house can be had from the roadside in the
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
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
Sheldon Manor OS.173 (ST887741)
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
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
VIIIs 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
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 Austens
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
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
The house is built around the
hall of a 14c house. Some restoration took place
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
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 Farewells occupation much remodelling
The house contains some very
fine plasterwork particularly in the Kings
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
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
Woodlands Manor OS.183 (ST815312)
Between 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. Elizabeths head was depicted in
the ceiling of the bookroom during the
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
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
husbands Christian name
The house is currently for
Manor Houses in Wiltshire A-M
interesting Medieval Houses and Buildings
with Medieval Origins
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