Ferne House

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Ferne House is a country house in the parish of Donhead St Andrew in Wiltshire, England. There has been a settlement on the site since 1225 AD. The current house, known as Ferne Park and the third to occupy the site, was designed by architect Quinlan Terry in 2001. The estate grounds straddle both Donhead St Andrew and Berwick St John parishes.[1]

Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age artefacts were found in the vicinity of the house during 1988 archaeological fieldwork.[2]

First house[edit]

The first Ferne House was the manor house of the de Ferne family: Philip de Ferne is recorded as living there in 1225.[3] From the Ferne family, it passed to the Brookway family, and in 1561 to William Grove of Shaftesbury. By 1809 the house had become so dilapidated that it was demolished.[1]

Second house[edit]

The second Ferne House was built by Thomas Grove, "on an enlarged scale in the year 1811 on the site of the old structure … in an elevated situation, commanding a pleasing view of the surrounding country". An 1850 photograph of this house is reproduced in The Grove Diaries.[1]

This house was remodelled some time after 1850 and assumed a square ground-plan.[4][5] In 1902 the house passed out of the ownership of the Grove family, when it was sold to A. H. Charlesworth, who further enlarged it the following year.

The house was bought in 1914 by Alfred Douglas-Hamilton, 13th Duke of Hamilton, who also bought nearby Ashcombe House at around the same time. During World War II the house was used as an animal sanctuary by his wife Nina, co-founder in 1906 of the Animal Defence and Anti-Vivisection Society with Lizzy Lind af Hageby.[6] She used the sanctuary to enable well-off London families to evacuate their pets to safety. The house remained in the Hamilton family’s possession until the estate was bequeathed by the Duchess to the Animal Defence and Anti-Vivisection Society, for the purpose of maintaining the sanctuary. Nikolaus Pevsner described the house in his 1963 edition of Wiltshire in The Buildings of England series (incorrectly ascribed by him to the parish of Berwick St John).[7]

A clause in the Duchess's will stated that it should remain as an animal sanctuary in perpetuity, but the restrictions she laid down were so stringent, according to The Observer, that the house was unsaleable, and as a result it was demolished in 1965. The animal sanctuary moved to Chard, in Somerset, where it still operates; in 1985 the Animal Defence Trust still owned the property, including the still-standing stable block and lodges.[7]

In 1991, the Ferne Estate was sold at an auction for £1,040,000. The buyer was Francis Dineley, a.k.a. (when writing) as John Goodyere, whose grandmother was a member of the Alexander Discount Banking family, and whose father, from his own pocket, armed the local Home Guard during World War II, and was a Director of the company known as Bapty & co. which supplied the guns used in such productions as the James Bond films.[7]

Only the gate piers to the park of this second incarnation of Ferne House remain: they are Grade II listed structures.[1]

Third house[edit]

Sometime after 1991 the estate passed into the ownership of the 4th Viscount Rothermere and his wife.[7] According to Private Eye, despite residing here, the 4th Viscount Rothermere claims to domicile in France for tax avoidance.[8]

In 2001 the third and present Ferne House (known as Ferne Park) was built to the design of the architect Quinlan Terry, in Palladian style and at a reported cost of £40m.[9] The house won the award for Best Modern Classical House from the Georgian Group in 2003, and in 2006 permission was sought to build two additional wings. The house was featured in the November 2006 edition of Vanity Fair.[1]

A summerhouse in the grounds, called the New Pavilion and also designed by Quinlan Terry, won the 2008 Georgian Group award for a New Building in the Classical Tradition. Terry is also known for the large plot of buildings in the 18th-century style by the Thames at Richmond.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Wiltshire County Council Wiltshire Community History". Wiltshire County Council. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  2. ^ http://history.wiltshire.gov.uk/smr/smr_search.php?sitename_in=S%20of%20Ferne%20House
  3. ^ "Wiltshire and Swindon Sites and Monument Information: Ferne House". Wiltshire County Council. Archived from the original on 2011-10-03. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  4. ^ Hawkins, Desmond (2008). The Grove Diaries. University of Delaware Press. pp. 230, 240–1. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  5. ^ Crowley, D.A. (ed) (1987). Victoria County History of Wiltshire, Volume 13. OUP for Victoria County Histories. p. facing 16, 128, 130. 
  6. ^ Kean, Hilda. "The 'Smooth Cool Men of Science': The Feminist and Socialist Response to Vivisection", History Workshop Journal, 1995, 40: 16–38.
  7. ^ a b c d McSmith, Andy (1999-06-13). "Press dynasty is coming home from exile to a '£6m' mansion". The Observer. 
  8. ^ http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=street_of_shame&issue=1234
  9. ^ "Lord's 40m home nears completion". Dorset Echo. Retrieved 2015-06-26. 
  10. ^ "Architectural Awards/2008 awards: New Building in the Classical Tradition". Georgian Group. Archived from the original on 2010-09-25. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°00′00″N 2°06′05″W / 51.00004°N 2.10131°W / 51.00004; -2.10131