Ramsbury Manor

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Ramsbury Manor, seen across the lake in its park

Ramsbury Manor is a Grade I listed country house at Ramsbury, Wiltshire, on the River Kennet between Hungerford and Marlborough, in the south of England.

Sir William Jones bought the estate in 1676. He wanted a country house to match his status, and turned to Dr Robert Hooke as one of the leading architects of the day, whom he already knew from work that Hooke had supervised on Jones' house in Bloomsbury.[1] Hooke met Jones at least five times in 1681, and probably provided him with designs for Ramsbury Manor at that time. Construction of the house probably began in 1681, but was unfinished when Sir William died in May 1682. The main structure of the house was completed in 1683, but work on the interior continued until 1686.

The house is an excellent example of Hooke's country house style of architecture, dignified and built to the best standards of the time.[2] It has two storeys and an attic, with nine bays at the front; to the south is a courtyard of servants' cottages.[3]

Notable residents have included Sir Francis Burdett, a Radical Whig politician, and his daughter Angela Burdett-Coutts (1814–1906), at one time the richest woman in England; and later Sir Ernest Salter Wills Bt, a member of the Wills tobacco family and a director of Imperial Tobacco.

In 1950, the last of the GWR Manor Class steam locomotives to be built was named Ramsbury Manor.

The house and land were bought by industrialist William Rootes in 1958; he was created Baron Rootes, of Ramsbury in the County of Wiltshire, in 1959.[4] After his death in December 1964, the estate was bought by property tycoon Harry Hyams and became his home until his death in 2015.[4] The purchase price was £650,000[5] and the Guinness Book of Records for 1966 described it as "the most expensive house in Britain".[citation needed]

On 1 February 2006 the house was the scene of a major burglary by the Johnson Gang.[6] The gang were caught and convicted; the prosecutor Paul Reid said: "This has been described as the most valuable domestic burglary ever committed in this country. The collection is described as priceless. There is a difficulty in putting a value on antiques and antiquities – some of them very precious and very rare – but it is tens of millions of pounds." In August 2008 the gang received long prison sentences.[7][8][9][10]

In his will, Hyams gave the house and his collections of fine art[11] and cars to the nation via his Capricorn Foundation, in a bequest reported to be worth £450m.[12]

Listed buildings and gardens[edit]

East gate and lodges

In 1966 the house was recorded as Grade I listed,[3] and the east gate and lodges as Grade II*.[13] The gates are flanked by panelled ashlar columns crested by lions supporting shields, and on each side is a square lodge, also in ashlar. At the same time the mid-17th century stables to the south of the house were listed at Grade II.[14]

The parkland, about 62 hectares, containing gardens from the late 17th century and the 18th, and a kitchen garden from the late 18th, are listed at Grade II on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.[15]


  1. ^ Inwood, Stephen (28 February 2011). The Man Who Knew Too Much (Kindle Locations 5864–5867). Macmillan Publishers UK. Kindle Edition.
  2. ^ Inwood, Stephen (28 February 2011). The Man Who Knew Too Much (Kindle Locations 6330–6331). Macmillan Publishers UK. Kindle Edition.
  3. ^ a b Historic England, "Ramsbury Manor (1184029)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 20 April 2017
  4. ^ a b Baggs, A.P.; Freeman, Jane; Stevenson, Janet H (1983). Crowley, D.A. (ed.). "Victoria County History: Wiltshire: Vol 12 pp12-46 – Parishes: Ramsbury". British History Online. University of London. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  5. ^ Brewerton, David (20 December 2015). "Harry Hyams obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  6. ^ "Timeline of Johnson gangs raids". The Daily Telegraph. London. 6 August 2008.
  7. ^ "BBC news report 6 August 2008 – five jailed for biggest burglary". BBC News. 6 August 2008.
  8. ^ Jones, Sam (7 August 2008). "The Guardian 7 August 2008 – After 20 years, five police forces and £80m in loot, Britain's biggest crime family brought to justice". London.
  9. ^ "Five jailed for biggest burglary – BBC News". 6 August 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2008.
  10. ^ McGinty, Stephen (7 August 2008). "Family gang who stole £80m from 'lords and ladies' jailed for 49 years". The Scotsman. Edinburgh.
  11. ^ Jones, Jonathan (14 December 2016). "Forget the modernists – Turner and Stubbs are Britain's true radicals". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  12. ^ Sawer, Patrick; Limbrick, Sarah (13 December 2016). "Centrepoint developer Harry Hyams leaves huge art collection to the nation in £487m will". The Telegraph. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  13. ^ Historic England. "East gate and lodges to Ramsbury Manor (1365500)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  14. ^ Historic England. "Stables to Ramsbury Manor (1034064)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  15. ^ Historic England. "Ramsbury Manor: Park and Garden (1001242)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 7 December 2019.

Coordinates: 51°26′15″N 1°37′54″W / 51.4374°N 1.6317°W / 51.4374; -1.6317