In March 1918, The Graphic followed the English footsteps of Benjamin Franklin, the great American negotiator. He was ever a welcome guest at the Twyford home of Dr Jonathan Shipley (who became Bishop of St Asaph in 1769), and here in 1771 Franklin, having the prospect of ‘a few weeks’ uninterrupted leisure,’ resolved to begin an account of his life for the information and guidance of his son. In Twyford House, Hampshire, the “self-taught American” put in hand the book which preserved his fame for all time to come. The apartment in which he penned the early chapters of his autobiography was known as ‘Franklin’s Room’, while opposite the mansion was a row of trees known as ‘Franklin’s Grove,’ because it was here that he liked to pace up and down for hours at a stretch. The house is now divided into three: Twyford House, Wing House and Well House.
Tatchbury Mount was built in the early 19th century, possibly for William Timson, or more likely for Henry Thomas Timson, a ‘gentleman of fortune’, who died in 1848. It passed to the Reverend Edward Timson, Master of the New Forest Foxhounds, until his death in 1873, and subsequently to his son, Captain Henry Timson, of the 5th Lancashire Regiment.
Tatchbury was later rented to Mr J.P. Hesletine and then Sir Daniel Fulthorpe Gooch, also of Clewer Park in Berkshire, the third holder of the baronetcy conferred in 1866 on Sir Daniel Gooch, for many years chairman of the Great Western Railway. The third baronet had accompanied Sir Ernest Shackleton in his 1914 Antarctic Expedition as far as South Georgia, signing on as an able seaman on the Endurance.
For the first time in 65 years this house might be going back into private ownership, but it will require deep pockets to do so
In 1936, there was excitement and relief when Lord Brocket, who as Mr Ronald Nall-Cain had represented Wavertree as its MP until 1934, bought Bramshill Park. This country house had been the residence of the Cope family for 200 years, but there was a danger of it passing out of private ownership as had happened to so many other mansions at the time.
It was bought as a second home for his family in more rural surroundings and further from London than Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire.
As it turned out, Lord Brocket, a man of considerable wealth, was its last private owner. He held on to the property until 1953 before selling it to the Government. However, sixty-five years later there is a chance that Bramshill Park might become a family residence once again.
This is a big country house. Bramshill Park is a magnificent Grade I listed mainly Georgian mansion, set within Grade I listed parkland, woodland and lake. It stands just over three miles away from Hartley Wintney, a charming country village in Hampshire. It is now being marketed at Knight Frank as a conversion opportunity, price on application, but expect to pay in excess of £20 million for the privilege, and then there will be conversion costs on top.
Bramshill dates to the Doomsday Book of 1086 when the estate was held by Hugh de Port. In 1347 Sir Thomas Foxley, Constable of Windsor Castle, was granted permission to enclose 2,500 acres of land as a deer park at Bramshill and Hazeley. Sir Thomas was responsible for the construction of the noble mansion at Bramshill which has drawn comparisons with Windsor Castle. The mansion then passed to the 11th Lord Zouche of Harringworth. Zouche needed a large country mansion to consolidate his position at Court and to make a statement that he was a force to be reckoned with. He reconstructed the house between 1605 and 1615.
Lord Zouche was a well-travelled and cultivated gentleman and it is to him that the creation of Bramshill House, largely as it appears today, is credited together with its walled gardens, maze and lake. The Henley family bought the estate in 1640 and remained at Bramshill until 1699 when it was sold to Sir John Cope whose descendants remained at Bramshill for 236 years. The Cope’s had a significant influence on both the fabric of the building, and its landscape. Much of what we know of the changes to the house and grounds over this period are described in a book published in 1883 by Sir William Cope, the main phases of internal change appear to be as follows:
- 1720. Introduction of the mezzanine floor and Queen Anne Stairs.
- 1812. Construction of the “Dark” corridor in the courtyard to allow independent access to the first-floor rooms and improve internal circulation.
- 1850-90. Incremental changes, mainly replacement of failing external fabric and re-organisation of the ground floor of the north wing. Introduction of bathrooms.
- 1920. Removal of partitions and walls from the former billiard room and “Red” dining room to create the Morning room.
In 1936, Bramshill was bought from the Cope family by Ronald Nall-Cain, 2nd Baron Brocket. During the Second World War, the house was used by the Red Cross as a maternity home for evacuee mothers from Portsmouth, and afterwards as a home for the exiled King Michael and Queen Anne of Romania and their family.
Following its sale in the 1953 to the British Government it became the Police Staff College in 1960, and was later home to the European Police College, the house and its outbuildings operating as a conference and training centre. Owing to escalating maintenance costs the property was put on the market for £25 million in 2013 and later sold to City & Country for £20 million in August 2014.
The property is now being offered for sale as a private mansion, along with a former coach house and assembly dining hall. It has the benefit of consents pending to restore it back to a single-family residence.
Red brick with blue brick diaper work, limestone dressings and carved and moulded ornament, and knapped flint infill. Roofs are slate and lead and have brick and stone chimneystacks. The roof to the servant’s hall is clad in copper. (Historic England)
Minley Manor is a house built from the riches of the banking industry. It is typical of a large country house built from the excesses of Victorian wealth that would eventually become surplus to requirement between two World Wars.
This Grade II listed house was built between 1858 and 1860 by Henry Clutton (1819-1893) for Raikes Currie (1801-1881), a partner in the banking firm of Curries & Co and later with Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co. He was also a former MP for Northampton.
Currie commissioned Robert Toswill Veitch (1823-1885) to lay out the gardens. The house itself was built of red brick with stone dressings in an asymmetrical French Gothic style with very tall roofs. Mark Girouard would later describe the interiors as ‘more Jacobean and classical rather than Gothic.’
Minley Manor suffered a serious fire In January 1870 in which the south portion of the house and the clock tower were totally destroyed. A large portion of valuable furniture was lost having been moved to that part of the building where the fire originated, whilst the other portion was being renovated. The main part of the house managed to be saved through the endeavours of dragoons drafted in from the Royal Military College at Sandhurst.
The house was also the birthplace of British diplomat Sir Reginald Hoare in 1882. Various Prime Ministers stayed at the house as did Queen Victoria.
Bertram Wodehouse Currie (1827-1896), Raike’s son, inherited the house in 1884 and made a number of important additions.
George Devey (1820-1886) (who had designed Coombe Warren for Bertram between 1868 and 1875) designed a chapel and orangery in 1886, the year of his death. Robert Veich and his landscaper Frederick William Meyer (1852-1906) also developed a winter garden, The Plain, extensions to the pleasure grounds and the Hawley Lake to the east.
Bertram had followed in his father’s footsteps and would also become a partner in Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co as well as being a member of the India Council. During the Barings Bank crisis in 1890 his expertise was called upon to work with Benjamin Buck Greene of the Bank of England to investigate the disastrous affairs of the bank..
After his death in 1896 the house passed to his son Laurence Currie (1867-1934) who made a number of modifications to the house and grounds. He employed Devey’s chief draughtsman Arthur Castings (1853-1913) to build new lodges, a water tower and a complex of walled gardens.
In 1933 Minley Manor was once again threatened by fire but this time it was due to a massive blaze that devastated more than five miles of wooded countryside between Blackwater and Hartley Wintney. More than a thousand soldiers joined fire brigades from Camberley, Frimley Green, Windlesham, Fleet, Bagshot and Hartley Witney. At one stage flames leapt 50 feet from blazing fir trees but they managed to save Minley Manor and also Elvetham Hall, the home of Sir Fitzroy Anstruther Gough-Calthorpe.
Laurence Currie died in 1934 but his son and successor Bertram Francis George Currie (1899-1959) had plans elsewhere. In 1936 he sold Minley Manor and its 2,500 acre estate to the War Office and moved to Dingley Hall in Northamptonshire.
Minley Manor became the Senior Wing of the Staff College at nearby Camberley. It was officially opened in January 1939 by Major General the Duke of Gloucester and was home to officers from the British Army, the Indian Army, Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the Royal Air Force and a number of Dominion regiments.
After 1971 it was used as an Officers’ Mess for the Royal School of Military Engineering (the Royal Engineers) units at Gibraltar Barracks. The house was also used for military weddings but became empty in August 2013 when a new mess was built at the barracks.
Minley Manor was also used as the backdrop for the 1969 film Mosquito Squadron and Stardust, featuring Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro.
As part of the Government requirement for estate rationalisation, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) sold Minley Manor in 2014 for a figure exceeding the £5 million guide price. The new owner is understood to be an international investor but plans for the house are yet to be revealed.
Note: In 1864 the banking firm of Glyn, Mills & Co acquired the business of Curries & Co and was renamed Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co. The company would eventually absorb further banks until the company was acquired by the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1939. The brand survived as Glyn, Mills & Co until 1969 when RBS decided to bring together three businesses – Williams Deacon’s Bank, Glyn Mills & Co and the English and Welsh branches of the National Bank. The new company was renamed Williams & Glyn which lasted until 1985 before being rebranded as the Royal Bank of Scotland. The name was due to be revived in 2016 when RBS branches in England and Wales were reported to become Williams & Glyn once again. However, the planned re-branding failed to materialise.
Minley Road, Blackwater, Hampshire, GU17 9JT