Stars of their age

His­tory needn’t be cold and stuffy, as these stylish his­toric houses prove

Country Life Every Week - - Property Market -

IT is rare enough to find a his­toric house that per­fectly re­flects the era in which it was first built and rarer still to find one that hasn’t, at some point, been al­tered or ‘re­stored’ to within an inch of its life. Then again, how of­ten do you see an im­por­tant me­dieval manor house— built in four main phases be­tween the 13th and 16th cen­turies and ba­si­cally un­changed since then—which has been sen­si­tively adapted for mod­ern fam­ily liv­ing but lost noth­ing of its time­less an­cient charm?

The buyer “won’t even need to change a lightbulb”’

Such a house is the ex­quis­ite, Grade Ii*-listed Bramshott Manor (Fig 1) at Bramshott, near Liphook, on the Hamp­shire-sur­rey-west Sus­sex bor­der. Be­lieved to be the old­est con­tin­u­ously in­hab­ited manor house in Hamp­shire, this me­dieval gem is cur­rently on the mar­ket through Knight Frank in Hasle­mere (01428 770560) at a guide price of £1.85 mil­lion.

One of four manors abut­ting the royal for­est of Woolmer in 1066, Bramshott is listed in the Domes­day sur­vey as be­ing held by Ed­ward de Sal­is­bury, a lead­ing Nor­man knight, al­though there is no record of a manor house ex­ist­ing at that time.

In the late 1100s, the manor passed to John de Bramshott and, in 1225, ei­ther he or his son, Wil­liam, built a small sin­gle-storeyed hall, pos­si­bly with a thatched roof and a cel­lar. Con­structed in the same year as Bramshott’s St Mary’s Church next door, the hall build­ing forms the old­est sur­viv­ing part of the present manor, which re­mained in the hands of the Bram-shott fam­ily and their de­scen­dants for the next 500 years. Ac­cord­ing to its His­toric Eng­land list­ing, the hall was later en­larged with the ad­di­tion of a tim­ber-framed up­per floor, fol­lowed, in about 1430, by a sub­stan­tial north­ern wing and then, in about 1500, by an east wing of sim­i­lar form, to create the manor house as it now stands.

In the late 1400s, the ab­sence of a male heir led to the manor pass­ing to two de Bramshott sis­ters, one of whom mar­ried Sir John Pak­en­ham. In about 1550, the Pak­en­ham con­nec­tion re­sulted in the trans­fer of own­er­ship to Sir Ed­ward Mervyn, a Lon­don lawyer, whose ini­tials E.M. are in­scribed on the land­ing fire­place.

In 1610, John Hooke, a wealthy wool mer­chant who was re­lated to the Mervyns by mar­riage, ac­quired

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