West Horsley Place

Coordinates: 51°15′57″N 0°26′31″W / 51.265880°N 0.441929°W / 51.265880; -0.441929
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West Horsley Place
West Horsley Place (geograph 5263391).jpg
West Horsley Place has a mid-17th century façade applied to its 15th century structure
LocationWest Horsley, Surrey
Coordinates51°15′57″N 0°26′31″W / 51.265880°N 0.441929°W / 51.265880; -0.441929
OS grid referenceTQ 08800 53011
Governing bodyWest Horsley Place Trust
Listed Building – Grade I
Official nameWest Horsley Place
Designated14 June 1967
Reference no.1188949
West Horsley Place is located in Surrey
West Horsley Place
Location of West Horsley Place in Surrey
The full façade

West Horsley Place is a Grade I listed building in West Horsley, to the east of Guildford in Surrey.[1] There are eight further Grade II buildings on the estate,[2] including two mid-19th-century dog kennels.[3]


The house dates back to the 15th century,[1] and is a timber-framed building.[4] The house has 50 rooms.[5] In the sixteenth century, it was owned by John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners, who made the first English translation of Froissart's Chronicles, and later by the Earl of Lincoln.[4]

The house, or the additions in the reign of Charles I, is given as a leading example by Sir John Summerson of what he calls "Artisan Mannerism", a development of Jacobean architecture led by a group of mostly London-based craftsmen still active in their guilds (called livery companies in London). It features prominently the fancy, quasi-classical, gable ends that were a mark of the style. Another example, Swakeleys House in west London, shows "what a gulf there was between the taste of the Court and that of the City." Other houses in the style are the Dutch House, the surviving remnant of Kew Palace, and Slyfield Manor, near Guildford.[6]

It was later rented by Henry Currie, the Conservative MP for Guildford, from 1847 to 1852.[7] In 1868, the place was used for fox hunting.[8] When owner Laura Mary Fielder died in 1908, West Horsley Place was valued at £62,536 (equivalent to £6.95 million in 2021).[9][10]

In 1931, it was acquired by Robert Crewe-Milnes, 1st Marquess of Crewe, and his wife, the Marchioness of Crewe. The Marquess died in 1945 and, on her death in 1967, his widow, Peggy née Primrose, left it to their daughter, Mary Innes-Ker, Duchess of Roxburghe (1915–2014).[11] The Duchess closed much of the house, living in a five-room section.[12]

When the 99-year-old Duchess died in 2014, it was "accidentally" inherited by her (then) 80-year-old grand-nephew, the broadcaster and author Bamber Gascoigne.[12] The Duchess was childless, but had numerous grand-nieces and grand-nephews. Gascoigne had no idea she had picked him to solely inherit the property, first learning of it when he was contacted by a solicitor after his great-aunt's death.[12]

To raise money to restore the somewhat dilapidated 50-room house, Gascoigne arranged for the Duchess's possessions – some found under cobwebs in the closed-up sections of the house – to be auctioned by Sotheby's in London and Geneva.[12] Originally expected to raise £2.2 million, the auction raised £8.8 million, with her Cartier diamond engagement ring selling for £167,000, 14 times its estimate.[12][13] Gascoigne subsequently transferred ownership of the house and estate to the West Horsley Place Trust.[14][15]

The Trust holds regular guided tours and open days of the house and gardens. The grounds are regularly used for events, concerts, art workshops and filming, in addition the main house and converted Place Farm Barn are available for occasional hire. In 2021 the Trust hosted their first wedding ceremony.[16][better source needed]

In popular culture[edit]

The house was the location for much of the filming of the 2015 ITV television film Harry Price: Ghost Hunter,[17] and the 2019 sitcom Ghosts for series 1, 2, 3, and 4, including Christmas specials, under the name Button House.[18] The 2020 film Enola Holmes interior scenes were shot at the house.[19]

Other productions using West Horsley Place as a location include My Cousin Rachel, Mothering Sunday, Cuckoo and The Crown.[20]

Grange Park Opera[edit]

Grange Park Opera took up residence in a purpose-built 700-seat theatre in the grounds, with its inaugural production of Puccini's Tosca, led by the Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja on 8 June 2017.[21][22] The lease on the theatre is for 99 years.[23] The planning application for the Theatre in the Woods met with some opposition, due to it being in the Metropolitan Green Belt, but with the support of the conductor Stephen Barlow and others was approved by Guildford Borough Council in May 2016.[24][5]


  1. ^ a b Historic England. "West Horsley Place (1188949)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  2. ^ "West Horsley Place – West Horsley Place". Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  3. ^ Historic England. "DOG KENNEL TO SOUTH EAST OF WEST HORSLEY PLACE (1029319)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  4. ^ a b "A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3". Victoria County History. 1911. pp. 353–357. Retrieved 23 October 2016 – via British History Online.
  5. ^ a b Pickford, John (30 March 2016). "Grange Park Opera's new £10m plot". Financial Times. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  6. ^ Summerson, John (1991). Architecture in Britain, 1530–1830 (8th, revised ed.). Penguin, Pelican history of art. pp. 142–147, 145 quoted. ISBN 0140560033.
  7. ^ Edward Wedlake Brayley; John Britton (1841). A topographical history of Surrey, by E.W. Brayley assisted by J. Britton and E.W. Brayley, jun. The geological section by G. Mantell. p. 95.
  8. ^ "Hunting Appointments". Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser. 20 January 1868. p. 8. Retrieved 23 October 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  9. ^ "Mrs. Laura Mary Fielder, West Horsley...". Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser. No. 16107. 22 June 1908. p. 6. Retrieved 23 October 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  10. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 11 June 2022.
  11. ^ "ROXBURGHE, – Deaths Announcements – Telegraph Announcements". Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  12. ^ a b c d e Furness, Hannah (21 March 2015). "Bamber Gascoigne to save 500-year-old manor after 'accidental' inheritance". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 7 April 2015. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  13. ^ "Bamber Gascoigne raises £8.8m from West Horsley auctions". BBC News. 29 May 2015. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  14. ^ The Arts Society Magazine, Summer 2021, p.61.
  15. ^ Flood, Alison (5 July 2018). "Charles I's 'message for the future' discovered in poetry book". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved 12 September 2021. When Gascoigne's great aunt Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe died in 2014 at the age of 99, she left him a crumbling 15th-century manor house. After deciding to establish a centre for the performing and visual arts on the site, Gascoigne transferred ownership to a charitable trust. [Italics added.]
  16. ^ "WEST HORSLEY PLACE HOSTS FIRST WEDDING CEREMONY". West Horsley Place. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  17. ^ Westbrook, Caroline (27 December 2015). "Here's why you won't want to miss ITV's spooky new drama Harry Price: Ghost Hunter". Metro. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  18. ^ "In pictures: Inside the historic West Horsley Place where hit BBC comedy 'Ghosts' is filmed". Surrey Live. 4 September 2021. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  19. ^ Tangcay, Jazz (24 September 2020). "How the 'Enola Holmes' Production Design Team Gave the Period Tale a Fresh Spin". Variety.
  20. ^ "Filming". West Horsley Place. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  21. ^ Gani, Aisha (12 November 2015). "Opera company to move into Bamber Gascoigne's crumbling stately home". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  22. ^ "The Appeal – GRANGE PARK OPERA". Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  23. ^ Hutchison, David (12 November 2015). "Grange Park Opera plans 700-seat woodland La Scala". The Stage. Retrieved 23 October 2016.
  24. ^ Edwards, Mark (20 May 2016). "New opera house gets go-ahead as Joanna Lumley lends support". Retrieved 23 October 2016.

External links[edit]