Avebury Manor & Garden

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View of Avebury Manor from the south on a sunny summer day.

Avebury Manor & Garden is a National Trust property consisting of a Grade I-listed early-16th-century manor house and its surrounding garden. It is located in Avebury, near Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, in the centre of the village next to St James's Church[1] and close to the Avebury neolithic henge monument.[2]

History[edit]

The manor house was built on or near the site of a Benedictine cell or priory of St Georges de Boscherville, founded in 1114.[3] Subsequently the site passed into the ownership of Fotheringhay College in 1411.[4] Fragments of the religious foundation were incorporated into the later house.[3]

William Sharington bought and surveyed the manor in 1548 suggesting alterations to the existing building.[3] The earliest parts of the present house were probably built after William Dunch of Little Wittenham in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire) purchased the estate in 1551.[5] It was some way from most of his lands which centred on Wittenham, but he appears to have purchased it because of an interest in ancient monuments such as the Avebury Stone Circles. Around that time a stone dovecote was erected in the grounds.[6] In the 1580s, William Dunch passed it on to his younger son, Walter Dunch, whose daughter, Deborah, Lady Moody, grew up at the manor before emigrating to America and founding Gravesend in Brooklyn in 1645. Walter Dunch's widow, Deborah, subsequently married Sir James Mervyn (who served as High Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1596), and the couple were responsible for a major extension or remodelling of the house around 1601.[7] In 1640 the Dunch family sold it to John Stawell and then, in 1652 to George Long before Stawells return from the Tower of London.[8]

The house has had many extensions and changes over the centuries, including the addition of a racquets court in the 18th century,[9] the final addition being the West Library which was added by the family of Leopold C. D. Jenner who occupied the house in the early 20th century and completely redesigned the gardens.[10][11] The house was leased and restored by Alexander Keiller who took an intense interest in Avebury henge in the late 1930s.[12]

Visitor attraction[edit]

The manor house is privately occupied, but part is open to the general public. The garden was completely redesigned in the early 20th century. The topiary and other formal gardens are contained within walls and clipped box, creating numerous "rooms".[11]

In 2011 Avebury Manor was the subject of the BBC One television series The Manor Reborn, in which the house was refurbished by a group of experts in collaboration with the National Trust.[13][14]

As of 2016, visitors are encouraged to touch and experience the furnishings and objects in the rooms which now represent periods in the house from the 16th century to the early 20th century.[15]

The house is reputedly haunted.[8]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ St James, Avebury, part of the benefice of Upper Kennet. http://www.achurchnearyou.com/avebury-st-james/
  2. ^ UK National Grid Reference: SU 09889 69997
  3. ^ a b c "Avebury Manor Reborn". Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  4. ^ Serjeantson, R.M.; Adkins, W.R.D. "Colleges: Fotheringhay". British History Online. Victoria County History. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  5. ^ "Dressing Mrs Dunch at Avebury Manor". National Trust. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  6. ^ "Dovecote at Avebury Manor". National heritage List for England. Historic England. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  7. ^ "Historic England, Register of Listed Buildings". Retrieved 29 March 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Wills, Keith (2014). Haunted Wiltshire. History Press. ISBN 9780750955188. 
  9. ^ "Racquets Court, Avebury Manor". National Heritage List for England. Historic England. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  10. ^ "Avebury Manor". National Heritage List for England. Historic England. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  11. ^ a b "Avebury Manor and Gardens". Great British Gardens. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  12. ^ Aslet, Clive (2010). "South-West England". Village of Britain: The Five Hundred Villages That Made the Countryside (UK ed.). UK and USA: Bloomsbury. p. 9 of 658. ISBN 978-0-7475-8872-6. Taking a lease on Avebury Manor, he joined the ranks of the restorers who were transforming the manor houses of Southern England into the visual equivalent of romantic poetry, releasing the spirits of history that had been locked up in them by insensitive alterations 
  13. ^ "BBC One The Manor Reborn". Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  14. ^ "Avebury Manor house reopens after TV makeover". BBC. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 
  15. ^ "Avebury Manor and Garden". National Trust. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°25′43″N 01°51′33″W / 51.42861°N 1.85917°W / 51.42861; -1.85917