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It was part of a sporting estate, and for most of its life used as a training establishment which, until the 19th century was known as Tilshead Buildings. It is said by local tradition that Charles II stabled his horses there. The Andrews and Dury maps of Wiltshire in 1773 and 1810 show a racing circuit called "Tylshead Race" a mile south of the house, although this was probably built as a training circuit rather than for use in competitive races.
Owners and residents
William, Duke of Cumberland, who from the early 1750s till his death, took a major interest in horseracing, is known to have resided there, and it is probable that two other members of the 18th century racing elite, the 2nd Earl of Godolphin and the 2nd Earl of Portmore both trained their horses at Tilshead Lodge. Richard Colt Hoare is recorded as an owner, and he also mentions the Earl of Godolphin and the Duke of Montrose as residing there. It was amongst the extensive estates owned by Walter Long in 1760. Other records indicate it was bought in 1802 and rebuilt in 1808 by Gorges Lowther. John Long of Monkton Farleigh purchased it in 1819. At that time the estate consisted of "the Capital and elegant Mansion, lawns, plantations, farms and other appendages, and above 1,050 acres (4.25 km2) of land". John Long sold it in 1830 to George Watson who died in 1841, and he passed it to his son Simon Watson who still owned it when he died in 1902. Among others recorded as living there, are Robert Fettiplace, Montague Gore, John Parham, Robert Farquharson and Lady Violet Bonham Carter. Its use as racing stables continued into the 20th century, as it was a training establishment in 1907 when the Tilshead Lodge Estate was auctioned as part of the Erlestoke Estate, and as late as 1937 it was being rented by the horse trainer Richmond Chartres Sturdy of Elston House.
World War II
- Wiltshire & Swindon Record Office, Long Family, Cat. no 941
- Peter Waterman, Wiltshire Libraries and Heritage Service
- The Times 18 May 1819
- The Victoria County History of Wiltshire (Vol 15)