Stars of their age
History needn’t be cold and stuffy, as these stylish historic houses prove
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