Search
  • Travel with Roy

Athelhampton Hall...Tudor Manor House

In the little village of Athelhampton in Dorset, on the banks of the River Piddle, is Athelhampton Hall, one of England’s finest Tudor Manor Houses. The Great Hall, the heart of the House was built in 1485 (the year of the Battle of Bosworth and the death of Richard III), by Sir William Martyn, when it would have served as the entire accommodation. The West Wing was added in the 16th century as the house became domesticated, with further additions over the centuries. Both the hall and gardens are Grade I listed and open for public visits.


Athelhampton Hall

Photo: Roy Nicholls


The present gateway

Photo: Roy Nicholls


From the gardens

Photo: Roy Nicholls


After passing through ownership by various people, in 1891 the house was acquired by the antiquarian Alfred de Lafontaine, who carried out restoration to the interior and added the North Wing in 1920–21. At the same time de Lafontaine engaged Inigo Thomas to create one of England's great gardens as a series of "outdoor rooms" inspired by the Renaissance. 20 acres (8.1 ha) of formal gardens are encircled by the River Piddle, and consist of eight walled gardens with numerous fountains and pavilions, plus a balustraded terrace, statues, obelisks and vistas through gate piers. The Great Court contains 12 giant yew pyramids set around the pool by the great terrace. The lawn to the west has an early 16th-century circular dovecote, and the south terrace features a vast Magnolia grandiflora and a Banksian rose (named for Dorothea, Lady Banks, the wife of the botanist Sir Joseph Banks).


The Great Court

Photo: Roy Nicholls


One of the garden 'rooms'

Photo: Roy Nicholls


In the Kitchen Garden

Photo: Roy Nicholls


The 16th century Dovecote

Photo: Roy Nicholls


The house was regularly visited by Thomas Hardy; his father was a stonemason and worked on the house. It was during this time that Hardy painted a watercolour of the south front including the gatehouse (sadly long demolished) and Hardy set the poem "The Dame of Athelhall" at the house.


The Great Hall

Photo: Roy Nicholls


Decorated Tudor plaster ceiling

Photo: Roy Nicholls


The Library

Photo: Roy Nicholls


The Great Hall, with its linenfold panelling, ancient heraldic stained glass & minstrels gallery, is a fine example of Tudor architecture. From the Great Hall you can wander through the various other rooms, including the Great Chamber, Library with its billiard table and the Kings Room, which has a fine example of a C17th Oak Tester Bed and ‘Armada Chest’. Armada Chests were iron-bound strongboxes for storing valuables in the 16th and 17th centuries, often with a large, complicated lock on the underside of the lid. The name itself was a fanciful Victorian invention recalling chests supposedly used by the Spanish Armada. One of the downstairs rooms has intricately carved ceiling beams, which legend states came from the ship that bought the Plague to England in the 14th century.


Carved ceiling beams

Photo: Roy Nicholls


Great Chamber with Tester Bed and 'Armada' Chest

Photo: Roy Nicholls


A wonderful house to explore

Photo: Roy Nicholls


Southern England has many wonderful grand houses, but Athelhampton is truly one of those hidden gems, set in the beautiful Dorset countryside, worth discovering!

29 views1 comment
 

+44 7979840625

©2020 by Euro Tour Guides. Proudly created with Wix.com