Aethelhampton House - Dorset
This totally spectacular Tudor Manor house we just happened upon while on our way to Maiden Castle (a gigantic Iron Age hillfort site) and took it in that afternoon. It was stunningly gorgeous and we loved every second of our visit.
It was built in 1485 by Sir William Martyn, who became Lord Mayor of London and was granted additional rights in 1495 to enclose 160 acres surrounding the manor to form a deer park and garden.
The interior looks as if it's a time capsule; but it's been lovingly restored so by the present owners. You'd never know that it was used as barn for decades!!
The house being so old there are dozens and dozens of stories associated with it. Of course it's wonderfully haunted. There is a 'grey lady' type ghost and a monk and, oddly, an ape! Apparently (and I find this highly improbable) the builder owned a pet ape and when he died he was accidentally buried within the walls of the Great Hall and can be heard "scratching to get out" from time to time. It's probably squirrels. Pretty sure they didn't have apes running around as even rich people's pets in 1485 England.
The author Thomas Hardy was a visitor to Aethelhampton at the time and says he was dining at the house when he heard news of the War breaking out in 1914. After the first and before the second world war some film stars at the time were entertained there; makes me think of Gosford Park. Aly Khan, Douglas Fairbanks and Noel Coward have all been the guests of the then owner Hon Mrs Esmond Harmsworth.
The house changed hands again in 1948 to a publisher whose mother-in-law studied with Picasso and Matisse. There is a gallery at the top of the house dedicated to her paintings. Not to my taste at all, but we looked at them.
It was spectacular just to be able to wander around in this gorgeous home that seemed out of the past, perfectly preserved. The minders at the front of house upon entry were friendly and knowledgable and gave up a smattering of info at the start and said that we could sit anywhere there was a place to sit and stay as long as we liked.
My husband and I tend to consume our tourism rather quickly, getting out of places what we want, efficiently, so we never have to stay long. But this place was so lovely - if it hadn't been so hot, I'm sure a longer foray into the gardens would have been welcome.
I was curious how the walk was by the River Piddle was -- the name, by the way, means just what you think it means, can you imagine?? haha! But it was rather humid and hot and we had already romped and roamed all over Maiden Castle hillfort a bit earlier and still had places to go!
I could absolutely sit in there all day long -- the only thing this room is missing is a computer desk and books. It needs lots and lots more books. This room is so goals, I love everything about it!
There are far too many photos for me to talk about each one, so I'm going to do something I don't normally do, and post a stack gallery of photos you can just look at!