Cothay Manor

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Cothay Manor
Cothay Manor.jpg
Cothay Manor is located in Somerset
Cothay Manor
Location within Somerset
General information
Architectural style Medieval
Town or city Stawley, near Wellington
Country England
Coordinates 50°59′01″N 3°18′17″W / 50.9837°N 3.3048°W / 50.9837; -3.3048Coordinates: 50°59′01″N 3°18′17″W / 50.9837°N 3.3048°W / 50.9837; -3.3048
Completed c1480

Cothay Manor is a grade one listed medieval house and gardens, in Stawley, near Wellington, Somerset.

In the early 14th century the lord of the manor was the de Cothay family, whose heir was the Bluett family, later from the early 15th century lords of the manor of Holcombe Rogus in Devon, also of nearby Greenham Barton.[1]

Built around 1480,[2] its listing cites it as an unusually well-conserved, neat collection of buildings before 1500 in England. It gained four out of five stars in Simon Jenkins"England’s Thousand Best Houses."[3] The rent for the land surrounding the manor in the medieval era was a pair of silver spurs and a rose. To celebrate the end of the Cousins' Wars, in the Tudor rose iconography of the time, a red rose (for Lancashire), and a white rose (for Yorkshire), were planted on the terrace by Richard Bluett, who was the lord of the manor at the time.[3]

The gardens were laid out in the 1920s by Colonel Reginald Cooper DSO, who was Sissinghurst Castle Garden owner Sir Harold Nicolson's oldest friend, having been at school together at Wellington College, Berkshire, in the Diplomatic Corps; and were friends of Hidcote Manor Garden's Major Lawrence Johnston and Edwin Lutyens. The gardeners exchanged ideas, and in Nicholson's diaries there is an entry: "Reggie came to stay and advised me on the length of the bowling green." Cooper's larger projects included moving the River Tone to save his favourite pine trees from erosion. Sissinghurst was laid out in 1932, with one garden writer describing Cothay as the "Sissinghurst of the West Country."[4]

The house then belonged to Sir Francis Cook, 4th Baronet and during World War II housed much of his famous art collection, dispersed after the war.

The former home of Taunton MP Edward du Cann, in 1993 du Cann sold the property to Alastair and Mary-Anne Robb. Alastair’s great-grandmother Mary-Anne was a plant hunter, with the Wood Spurge Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘var. robbiae’ named after her, nicknamed "Mrs Robb’s Bonnet" because she had to hide it in her hat to smuggle it through customs.[3] With the whole property and gardens in need of renovation, the gardens were gutted and rebuilt along the original Cooper structure. The Robbs also added new garden areas, including a bog garden in the Oxbow, an Arboretum planted, and a wild flower meadow sown.[4]

In 2008 and 2009, the manor was the subject of a Channel 4 television programme presented by hotelier Ruth Watson as part of her Country House Rescue series.[5]


  1. ^ Ford, Michael. "Bluett Family Mansions in Somerset, Devon & Cornwall". Britania Country Houses. Retrieved 2009-04-30.  The Bluett family lived at Holcombe Court until 1858.
  2. ^ "Cothay Manor". Images of England. English Heritage. Archived from the original on 2012-10-13. Retrieved 2008-10-17. 
  3. ^ a b c "'Romantic' Cothay Manor's garden delights". BBC Somerset. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  4. ^ a b "Cothay Manor Gardens". Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  5. ^ "Cothay Manor". Country House Rescue. Unreality Primetime. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 

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