Wymering Manor is a Grade II* listed building, which is the oldest in the city of Portsmouth, England, and was the manor house of Wymering, a settlement mentioned in the Domesday Book. It is first recorded in 1042, when it was owned by King Edward the Confessor. After the Battle of Hastings it became the property of King William the Conqueror, until 1084.
A Roman settlement existed at Wymering from c. 43 to 408 – a marshy coastline ran close to the present site of Wymering Manor and a Roman outpost camp was likely to have been sited there to defend Portchester Castle.
In Saxon times, c. 409, a tribal leader named Wimm lived near the shore of Paulsgrove Lake and may have included the land of Wymering Manor in his village. Attributed with the origin of the name of Wymering as a hamlet at the crossroads of the Portchester to Cosham and Portsdown Hill to Paulsgrove Lake tracks.
The first recorded occupant of Wymering Manor was William Mauduit who probably came across with the invasion of 1066 from his home in Normandy and was involved in local research for the Great survey of 1086 – known as the Domesday book. He held other manors in Hampshire and married a Portchester girl named Hawyse in 1069 with whom he had three children.
The majority of the current building is 16th century in construction. However, there still exist parts that contain Roman and medieval materials. The cellars are reputedly Saxon in origin. The early origins of the site are supported by archaeology of the area that implies that the area has been inhabited since at least the Roman period.
Inside the manor is a spacious hall which is dominated by twin Jacobean staircases and gallery with barley sugar twist balusters. The panelled walls and pilasters are in building styles associated with the Tudor Elizabethan period. Two priest-holes are also located in the house.
Wyymering, which came to the Bigg-Withers on the death in 1768 of Rev. Richard Harris, brother of Jane Harris, who was the mother of Lovelace Bigg, is of special interest to the family as the home of the Rev. Charles Blackstone (Vicar of Wymering 1774–1804) and of Harris Bigg-Wither from his marriage (1804) to the death of his father, Lovelace Bigg-Wither, in 1813. Here Harris Bigg-Wither's six elder children were born.
The history of the manor has been sketched by Mrs. Andrew Davies in her History of Cosham (pub. 1906). At the time of the Domesday Survey (1086) it was held by William the Conqueror in demesne as it had been by King Edward the Confessor, in connection with Portchester Castle.
In the thirteenth century the manor was granted first to Fulkes de Wymering and afterwards to William de Fortibus, and was held of the King by military service at Portchester.
In 1285 Edward I granted the manor to John le Botelier, in whose family it remained for a century; it then passed to the Waytes, from whom it passed in 1570 by marriage to the Brunnings, a well-known Roman Catholic family. On the death of Edward Bruning, aged 98, in 1707 the manor changed hands several times until in 1761 the Rev. Richard Harris (great-grandson of Warden Harris), Vicar of Wyrmering and Rector of Wydley, bought a moiety of the manor from Sir Edward Worsley, and in 1768 the rest of the manor from William Smith.
The Rev. Richard Harris died without issue and intestate in 1768, and the manor went to his nephew and heir at law, Lovelace Bigg, who in 1783 added to the property 127 acres (0.51 km2) by purchase from Lord Dormer.
In 1835 the old manor house and sixty-eight acres was sold by the Rev. Lovelace Bigg-Wither for £5000 to Mr. John Martin, who had long been tenant, and the rest of the property, comprising about 336 acres (1.36 km2) with house, was sold in 1858 to Rev. G. Nugee and Mr. Thos. Thistlethwayte for £14,827. 14s. 8d.
Wymering Manor is linked with St Peter & St Paul Church and churchyard, which is the last resting place for Jane Austen's brother Vice Admiral Sir Francis Austen and his family. Sir Francis (1774–1865), served on one of Nelson's ships and eventually became Admiral of the Fleet.
In the 1930s the owner was a designer, Mr Metcalfe, for Airspeed, and during this period Nevil Shute the novelist and Amy Johnson both visited the manor. In 1953 the building was made Grade II listed.
The manor then passed into the ownership of Portsmouth City Council, who leased it to the Youth Hostel Association for this period. During this time the Manor became a favourite of ghost hunters from across the UK. In 2003 the building's status was upgraded to Grade II* listed.
In 2006 the manor was sold to a private organisation after the cost of the upkeep became too much for the council. The purchasers intended to restore the manor and turn it into a hotel and function rooms, trading on the historic and paranormal links after a visit by the Most Haunted Live television programme in May 2006. However, the development never took place and ownership reverted to Portsmouth City council. The Manor was put up for sale by auction in London on 21 September 2010, but failed to sell.
The council officially handed Wymering Manor, along with a start-up grant of £30K to help towards the cost of restoration, over to the Wymering Manor Trust in January 2013. The Trust subsequently applied for a further £50,000 from the People's Millions, a collaboration between the Big Lottery Fund and the ITV (TV network).
Local folklore and legend
The manor, which has been proclaimed Hampshire’s Most Haunted house, is reportedly home to at least eighteen ghosts.
During the medieval period, according to local legend, Sir Roderick of Portchester rode to the manor to take advantage of a young bride who had been left alone on her wedding night when her new husband had been called away by an emergency. Unfortunately for Reckless Roddy the husband returned chased him from the house and thrust a sword through him as he attempted to mount his horse. The sound of a horse galloping up the lane at 2 am regularly reported by YHA wardens during the manor's time as a youth hostel has been linked to the legend.
The ghost of Sir Francis William Austen, brother of Jane Austen and former warden of the adjacent St. Peter and St. Paul's church, has been sighted on numerous occasions and is said to have smiled at one of the staff.
The apparition of a nun with bloody hands, sighted at the top of the stairs leading to the servant's quarters, has been linked to a local legend that one of the rooms was once used as an illegal abortion clinic.
The manor was the subject of an episode of the Antix Productions series Most Haunted Live! broadcast on 5 May 2006 as part of its Panic In Portsmouth strand, which included episodes from Southsea Castle and the Royal Marines Museum.
A short film about the manor and its application for £50,000 from the People's Millions was shown on ITV Meridian at 6:00pm on Tuesday 26th November 2013.
- Fryer,J "Wymering Manor: a brief history" Portsmouth, Friends of Wymering Manor, 2006
- Her bedroom is in imminent danger of collapse and (when visited in March 2007) was heavily supported by scaffolding.
- Listed buildings and ancient monuments in Portsmouth
- Pevsner,N "The Buildings of England: Hampshire and The Isle of Wight" Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1967 ISBN 0-14-071032-9
- QMI AGENCY,"Most haunted house in England up for sale", Toronto Sun,10 September, 2010 9:25am.
- "Portsmouth's 'haunted' manor house fails to sell". BBC. 21 September 2010. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
- Scanlan, David (2013). Paranormal Hampshire. Amberley Publishing.