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Report - Great Tew Manor House, Oxfordshire - July 2011

Discussion in 'Residential Sites' started by Gh0sT, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. Gh0sT

    Gh0sT 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

    Jan 17, 2011
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    The Great Tew Manor House


    Visited with invisableman and HappySHopper.

    I really loved this place and researching the history was brilliant, there is so much written about the estate and the people that have lived there over 100’s of years. I must say that i never really felt comfortable during the explore, the place has live in residents situated at one end of the house.
    It wasn’t like photographing a derelict site and I felt like an intruder so I was glad to be walking back to the car.


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    The original manor house was demolished in 1800 and it stands with the church away from the village itself. Outlying structures from circa 1700 including its stable block, dovecote and stone gatepiers still survive according to Wikipedia. M.R. Boulton took over the estate in 1815-16. He was the son of the engineer Matthew Boulton of Soho, Birmingham. Prior to this the estate belonged to G.F. Stratton who had made a fortune in the East India Company.


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    Even earlier records show the estate and therefore original manor house belonging to Lucius Cray - Lord Falkland, of which the famous pub 'The Falkland Arms' is named after. He was Lord of the Manor in 1643. It is rumoured that his predecessor, Sir Laurence Tanfield, allowed the estate houses to fall into a state of disrepair through lack of timber.
    By the end of the 16th century a park at Great Tew had been created, divided into Inner, Middle, and Outer Parks. Further related enclosure took place in the early 1620s, when Sir Lawrence Tanfield enclosed land including Cow Hill. By this time Great Tew was almost all in single ownership (Victoria County History). In 1626 Lucius Cary (?1610-43) inherited the Great Tew estate from Tanfield, his grandfather, and in 1633 inherited his father's title, becoming the second Viscount Falkland. Falkland was a poet and renowned philosopher who was influential at nearby Oxford University, and it is likely that the three linked, stone-walled gardens which were erected close to the manor house were constructed and laid out under his direction. The 17th-century manor landscape, which included the manor house, walled gardens, The Grove, and the park, enclosed the parish church and churchyard (Lambert 2001). A great avenue was probably created at this time, running northwards from the centre of the park across the valley below to high ground beyond. Falkland died at the age of thirty-three at the Battle of Newbury, fighting for the Royalists, and his heirs sold the estate in 1698 to Francis Keck. After Keck's death in 1728 his nephew John Tracy, who took the name Keck, inherited the estate and was responsible for the enclosure of the remainder of the parish in 1763. This resulted in many small parcels of land being amalgamated under his management and ownership. John Keck died in 1774, and subsequently a substantial part of the estate was bought by the nabob George Stratton, who bought the remainder in 1793, amassing an estate of several thousand acres.
    The house is built of the local ironstone as are the majority of the estate cottages. It gives the whole village a beautiful effect. The local quarry was reopened in 2000 due to popular demand for the ironstone. M.R. Boulton rebuilt the whole village in the 19th century with the majority of the work being carried out on the mansion we see today.
    1820 saw the village cottages rebuilt with architect Thomas Rickman's designs and later in 1828 Thomas Fulljames became involved, also working on extending the manor house. In 1842 Fulljames and Waller of Gloucester became the chief architects to M.P.W. Boulton after M.R. Boulton's death.


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    The estate fell into disrepair after this period until Major Eustace Robb inherited the Estate in 1962. Farms were taken back in hand, cottages refurbished and a sewerage system for the village was installed. This process took time and money but by Major Robb's death in 1985 significant progress had been made.


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    Following Stratton's death in 1800, his son, George Frederick, inherited what was generally considered to be one of the finest estates in the county and quickly demolished much of the manor house which stood on a platform north-west of the church. Repton's advice was presented in a Red Book dated 1804 containing written suggestions and watercolour illustrations of his suggestions. He suggested that the new mansion should be built in the centre of the walled park, aligned very close to the south end of the old avenue. His principal landscape improvements concerned the south-facing valley-side to the north of the park, as this would form such a prominent feature in the view from the new mansion. The new house was never built, and it appears that Repton's landscape suggestions were not immediately implemented.
    In 1808 Stratton leased much of his farmland to the young John Claudius Loudon (1783-1843) for a demonstration of 'Scotch husbandry', having read Loudon's treatise An immediate and effectual mode of raising the rental of landed property (1808). Loudon only stayed until 1811, and his tenure was not a success, with Stratton spending large sums for little return. Loudon did however lay out a series of substantial farm roads on the north side of the valley, north of the house and main park, centred on Tew Lodge, a model farmhouse built for him by Stratton and demolished by the 1830s (OS 1833). Loudon may also have laid out the adjacent Cow Hill and its environs as parkland, incorporating Repton's general suggestion, and widened a brook into a narrow lake close to the Lodge. The Lodge Ponds, as the lake was called, had also been suggested by Repton, but Loudon's purpose was to form the reservoir for a threshing mill. Loudon went on to become the foremost influence of his day on landscape design.


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    Matthew Robinson Boulton, a Birmingham industrialist, bought the estate in 1816, making extensions to the dower house, by now the main residence, together with improvements to the gardens, village, and wider estate, before his death in 1842. After his death, his son, Matthew Piers Watt Boulton, continued to improve the estate, enlarging the house, constructing The New Gardens as kitchen gardens, and reworking the 17th-century Grove. Following M P W Boulton's death in 1894 the estate continued in the Boulton family. His great-nephew, Major Eustace Robb (died 1985), took up residence in 1952 and inherited the estate in 1962. The estate remains (2001) in private ownership.
    The village became a conservation area in 1978.


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    At present the majority of the house is wrapped in plastic sheeting and scaffolding. The Johnston Family now own the estate and are in the process of continuing the restoration and upkeep of the house and village.
    The Great Tew website and History: http://www.greattewestate.com/estatehistory.htm
    Buried treasure and a mystery
    A MICHELANGELO drawing, being auctioned by Christie's in London today, has been locked away in Great Tew, a semi-derelict Oxfordshire manor house, for a century and a half.
    Christie's expects the drawing to go for between pounds 2.5m and pounds 3.5m


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    Original manor house picture courtesy of Colin West, all other history and txt researched from the Great Tew estate history website.

    Thanks for looking :thumb

    Attached Files:

    #1 Gh0sT, Jul 11, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2011

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  2. albino-jay

    albino-jay 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Apr 20, 2013
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    Awesome report.
  3. stranton

    stranton the subterranean explorer
    Regular User

    Jun 3, 2011
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    thinking its been refurbished now?
  4. Xan_Asmodi

    Xan_Asmodi Cave Monster
    Regular User

    Feb 18, 2011
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    Home Page:
    Christ, you kept this one under your hat dude! I didn't know what to pay more attention to, the excellent write up or the stunning photos! :thumb
  5. dave

    dave 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Apr 7, 2007
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    Loving that old paperwork too. Lovely stuff.
  6. dweeb

    dweeb Super Moderator
    Staff Member Moderator

    Oct 20, 2005
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    What did become of the place in the end, anyone know?
  7. Landie_Man

    Landie_Man "Landie" or Harry
    Regular User

    Sep 15, 2008
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    Refurbished I think.
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