Great Chalfield Manor

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Great Chalfield: the externally symmetrical entrance front

Great Chalfield Manor is an English country house at Great Chalfield, near Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire.

The house is a moated manor house built around 1465–1480 for Thomas Tropenell, a modest member of the landed gentry who made a fortune as a clothier. The independent hall, lit on both sides, is flanked by unusually symmetrical gabled cross wings, with oriel windows and lower gabled porches in the inner corners, in the north-facing former entrance court, for which the richest effects were reserved. Its external symmetry, unusual for its date, is superficial.[1] The intimately connected parish church, largely rebuilt by Tropnell, also faces into the court, which was formerly entered obliquely through a gatehouse in the west wing; Nicholas Cooper observes of the church that "the probable need to pass through the house's forecourt in order to reach it neatly demonstrates the community of secular and religious authority".[2] Part of a moat survives, but the forecourt has been opened up to the outside in a manner that changes its original inward-facing aspect.[3]

Great Chalfield: the less formal southern aspect

It was altered substantially (with some of the original character lost) after the Neale family commissioned the architect Thomas Larkins Walker, a pupil of Pugin, to carry out a detailed survey of the manor in 1836; though his restoration proposals of 1837 were never carried out, the house was reduced and in particular, the great hall, adapted as a farmhouse, lost its ornate ceiling, with only one of the original bosses surviving.

Externally there is a garden with four "tree houses", groups of four clipped yews that have grown together and been hollowed out inside to allow one to walk through. A feature of the church is the unusual "bellcote", a stone belfry built on to the gable peak.

The house and garden were purchased by George Fuller MP (of Neston Park) in the early 1900s, and restored and furnished between 1905 and 1911 by his fourth son, Major Robert Fuller, under the guidance of Sir Harold Brakspear. The restoration included a sympathetic garden design by Alfred Parsons. Robert Fuller gave the property to the National Trust in 1943, and it is open to the public.[4] Robert Floyd, grandson of Robert Fuller, and his family live here and manage the property for the Trust. Tours of the house are at fixed times and visitors are escorted by a guide.

The house is Grade I listed;[5] the Tropenell Cartulary manuscript, compiled for Thomas Tropenell, is still kept there. The gardens are Grade II listed.[6]

A clipped yew garden house

Film industry[edit]

The house and grounds have hosted the film industry since the end of the 20th century.

They were used for Wives and Daughters in 1999, the BBC television adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel, as Hamley Hall, the country house of a squire.[7] They were later used for location filming of the 2008 film version of the historical novel The Other Boleyn Girl, and some scenes of the 2008 BBC Television adaptation of Tess of the d'Urbervilles.[8][9] Scenes for the BBC's Tudor-era historical TV serial Wolf Hall were filmed there in 2014.[10]


  1. ^ Nicholas Cooper, Houses of the Gentry 480-1680 1999:60, floorplan fig.39, 61, 64.
  2. ^ Cooper 1999:64.
  3. ^ A point made by Cooper 1999:61.
  4. ^ "Manor House". Robert & Patsy Fuller. Retrieved 30 July 2009. 
  5. ^ Historic England. "Great Chalfield Manor (1250902)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  6. ^ Historic England. "Gardens, Great Chalfield Manor (1001232)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  7. ^ "Wiltshire on film". BBC Online. Retrieved 26 Jan 2015. Wives and Daughters: Dyrham Park, NR Chippenham and Great Chalfield Manor. 
  8. ^ "Houses packed with history star in Wolf Hall". National Trust. Retrieved 8 September 2015. 
  9. ^ "Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Locations". PBS. Retrieved 8 September 2015. 
  10. ^ Frith-Salem, Benjamin (20 January 2015). "Wolf Halls: take a look inside the properties where the new BBC series is filmed". BBC History Magazine. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°22′05″N 2°12′11″W / 51.368°N 2.203°W / 51.368; -2.203 (Great Chalfield Manor)