GRANBY HOUSE

This country house is no stranger to fire. It was still unfinished in 1913 when suffragettes set it ablaze. Elms Cross House became the Granby Hotel and was later destroyed by fire for a second time.

granby house - 2019 - knight frank (1)
Granby House, Wiltshire. For many this is still known as Elms Cross House. Image: Knight Frank.

Situated in idyllic countryside, this substantial family home sits at Westwood, moments from the market town of Bradford-on-Avon, in Wiltshire, within lovely gardens and grounds.

Granby House was originally commissioned by quarry master, builder, and stone merchant, Isaac Jones, built at the turn of the 20th Century and is not listed. It is currently on the market at Knight Frank with a guide price of £2.95 million.

The property was once Elms Cross House, which had been built in 1908, by Isaac Jones at a cost of over £18,000. It was still unfinished when, in June 1913, it was completely gutted by fire. Suspicion at the time rested with the Suffragettes and firemen were unable to save the house due to an absolute lack of water. At the time they depended entirely for their supply on a three-quarter-inch tap in outbuildings.

wiltshire times and trowbridge advertiser - 25 nov 1922 - bna
This photograph appeared in the Wiltshire Times and Trowbridge Advertiser in November 1922. It was taken shortly after the interior was destroyed by fire in 1913. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

The bare walls of the house became a landmark of the countryside but, in November 1922, Mr Charles William Darbishire, whose firm had business interests in the Far East, and was the newly-elected MP for Westbury, bought the abandoned property. The plans for the house were drawn up by Walter Wadman Snailum of Trowbridge.

NPG x162076; Charles William Darbishire by Walter Stoneman
Charles William Darbishire (1875 – 1925 . By Walter Stoneman, bromide print, 1922.

Darbishire had the building restored as his permanent residence. A few years later, however, both he and his wife died within a short time of each other. The house continued as a private residence before it became the Harrogate Hotel in 1939. It was named after the Yorkshire town from which the company had relocated after its hotel was requisitioned by the Government. The northern hotel had been called the Granby and after a while the Harrogate Hotel was also renamed as the Granby Hotel.

“As your car comes to rest on the gravelled drive, a butler appears to see to you and your luggage; no matter what the season, the sweet smell of flowers assails you from the forty acres of grounds. The hotel ‘office’ as such is non-existent, but there is a quiet, efficient direction behind the scenes. The chef, whom you may remember from the Granby at Harrogate, is an adept at his job; here at the Bradford-on-Avon version of the Granby, you will find the comfort and calm of country house life, with the additional convenience of a free car to whisk you into Bath if the mood dictates.

” But there is one snag. There are only twelve rooms, as against the two hundred at Harrogate.”

illustrated sporting and dramatic news - 27 october 1939 - bna
The Granby Hotel. This photograph was taken in 1939. Ashley Courtenay in The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News said; “A fine specimen of Cotswold domestic architecture where, with the exception of the hotel signboard, there is nothing to suggest an hotel.” Image: The British Newspaper Archive.
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Granby House, Wiltshire. Image: Knight Frank.

However, in August 1947, the building was gutted by fire for a second time. Once again, firemen were baffled by a complete lack of water supply until a relay pump system had been established between the burning hotel and the canal at Bradford-on-Avon, about a mile away. The fire had started in the linen room on an upper floor at the rear of the premises.

In November 1947, Mr William Gerald Holbrow, a timber merchant, purchased the Elms Cross estate, including the remains of the Granby Hotel. The building was restored as a private residence, once again known as Elms Cross House, but was put up for sale in the 1950s. In recent times the house has been used as a luxury bed and breakfast, known as Granby House Hotel, but now closed.

wiltshire times and trowbridge advertiser - 23 august 1927 - bna
The Granby Hotel caught fire again on a Saturday night in August 1947. Dinner was being served at the hotel when suddenly the cry of ‘fire’ swept through the building, a member of staff having discovered that the linen room on an upper floor was ablaze. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.
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Granby House, Wiltshire. Image: Knight Frank.
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Granby House, Wiltshire. Image: Knight Frank.
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Granby House, Wiltshire. Image: Knight Frank.
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Granby House, Wiltshire. Image: Knight Frank.
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Granby House, Wiltshire. Image: Knight Frank.
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Granby House, Wiltshire. Image: Knight Frank.

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