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Owlpen Manor

Owlpen Manor

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Owlpen Manor is a Tudor
Tudor architecture
The Tudor architectural style is the final development of medieval architecture during the Tudor period and even beyond, for conservative college patrons...

 Grade I listed manor house
Manor house
A manor house is a country house that historically formed the administrative centre of a manor, the lowest unit of territorial organisation in the feudal system in Europe. The term is applied to country houses that belonged to the gentry and other grand stately homes...

 of the Mander family
Mander family
The Mander family has held for over 200 years a prominent position in the Midland counties of England, both in the family business and public life....

, situated in the village of Owlpen
Owlpen is a small village and civil parish in the Stroud district of Gloucestershire, England, set in a picturesque valley in the Cotswold hills. It is about one mile east of Uley, and three miles east of Dursley. The Owlpen valley is set around the settlement like an amphitheatre of wooded hills...

 in the Stroud district
Stroud (district)
Stroud is a local government district in Gloucestershire, England. It is named after its largest town, Stroud, and has its administrative headquarters in Ebley Mill, in the Ebley area on the outskirts of the town.thumb |left |Ebley Mill...

 in Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire is a county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn, and the entire Forest of Dean....

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. There is an associated estate set in a picturesque valley within the Cotswold
The Cotswolds are a range of hills in central England that give their name to:*Cotswold *Cotswold *Cotswold Chase, a horse race*Cotswold Games, annual games in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire...

 Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is an area of countryside considered to have significant landscape value in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, that has been specially designated by the Countryside Agency on behalf of the United Kingdom government; the Countryside Council for Wales on...

. The manor house is about one mile east of Uley
Uley is a village in the county of Gloucestershire, England. It is situated in a wooded valley in the Cotswold escarpment, on the road between Dursley and Stroud. The population is around 1,100, but was much greater during the early years of the industrial revolution, when the village was...

, and three miles east of Dursley
Dursley is a market town in Gloucestershire, England. It is under the North East flank of Stinchcombe Hill , and about 6 km South East of the River Severn. The town is adjacent with Cam which, though a village, is a community of double the size...



Owlpen Manor is widely recognised as one of the most romantic early manor houses in England. It has been designated by English Heritage
English Heritage
English Heritage . is an executive non-departmental public body of the British Government sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport...

 as a grade I listed building. The manor house
Manor house
A manor house is a country house that historically formed the administrative centre of a manor, the lowest unit of territorial organisation in the feudal system in Europe. The term is applied to country houses that belonged to the gentry and other grand stately homes...

 is of medieval origins, incorporating fabric dated to c. 1200, but was largely built and rebuilt in the Tudor period
Tudor period
The Tudor period usually refers to the period between 1485 and 1603, specifically in relation to the history of England. This coincides with the rule of the Tudor dynasty in England whose first monarch was Henry VII...

 by the Daunt family, between 1464 and 1616. Since then it has hardly been touched except for small improvements early in the 18th century, when the east wing of the house, together with the gardens, church and Grist Mill, were reordered by Thomas Daunt IV between 1719 and 1726.

Medieval period

Owlpen derives its name, it is thought, from the Saxon
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 thegn, Olla, who first set up his pen, or enclosure, by the springs that rise under the foundations of the manor, about the 9th century.

There are records of the de Olepenne family (who must have named themselves after the place) settled at Owlpen by 1174. They were local landowners, benefactors to abbey
An abbey is a Catholic monastery or convent, under the authority of an Abbot or an Abbess, who serves as the spiritual father or mother of the community.The term can also refer to an establishment which has long ceased to function as an abbey,...

s and hospitals, and henchmen to their feudal
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 overlords, the Berkeleys of Berkeley Castle
Berkeley Castle
Berkeley Castle is a castle in the town of Berkeley, Gloucestershire, UK . The castle's origins date back to the 11th century and it has been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building.The castle has remained within the Berkeley family since they reconstructed it in the...

, whose wills and charters they regularly attest as their attorneys and witnesses. They held Owlpen of the Berkeleys as a sub-manor at half a knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

's fee and for a rent of 5s. paid to Wotton manor.

Tudor period

In 1464 the male line failed after twelve generations of Olpennes and the manor and lands passed to the Daunt family on the marriage of Margery de Olepenne to John Daunt of Wotton-under-Edge
Wotton-under-Edge is a market town within the Stroud district of Gloucestershire, England. Located near the southern end of the Cotswolds, the Cotswold Way long-distance footpath passes through the town. Standing on the B4058 Wotton is about from the M5 motorway. The nearest railway station is...

. The Daunts were clothiers who had been settled in Wotton since the 14th century. They later acquired land in Munster
Munster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the south of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial purposes...

, Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, where by 1595 they had their principal estates at Gortigrenane Castle, near Carrigaline
Carrigaline is a single-street town in County Cork, Ireland. It is about 12 km from Cork City which can be reached by car in 25 minutes...

, and at Tracton Abbey, near Kinsale
Kinsale is a town in County Cork, Ireland. Located some 25 km south of Cork City on the coast near the Old Head of Kinsale, it sits at the mouth of the River Bandon and has a population of 2,257 which increases substantially during the summer months when the tourist season is at its peak and...

, both in County Cork
County Cork
County Cork is a county in Ireland. It is located in the South-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. It is named after the city of Cork . Cork County Council is the local authority for the county...


There is a tradition that the manor house was visited by Queen Margaret of Anjou
Margaret of Anjou
Margaret of Anjou was the wife of King Henry VI of England. As such, she was Queen consort of England from 1445 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471; and Queen consort of France from 1445 to 1453...

 before the Battle of Tewkesbury
Battle of Tewkesbury
The Battle of Tewkesbury, which took place on 4 May 1471, was one of the decisive battles of the Wars of the Roses. The forces loyal to the House of Lancaster were completely defeated by those of the rival House of York under their monarch, King Edward IV...

 in May 1471, since then her ghost is said to haunt the great chamber where she slept.

The Daunt main line failed on the death of Thomas Daunt VI in 1803.

Nineteenth century

In the nineteenth century, the fortunes of the manor suffered after the Stoughton family, Anglo-Irish landowners from county Kerry
County Kerry
Kerry means the "people of Ciar" which was the name of the pre-Gaelic tribe who lived in part of the present county. The legendary founder of the tribe was Ciar, son of Fergus mac Róich. In Old Irish "Ciar" meant black or dark brown, and the word continues in use in modern Irish as an adjective...

, inherited in 1815. They built a new mansion c. 1848, called Owlpen House, a mile to the east of the original settlement, to the Italianate designs of Samuel Sanders Teulon
Samuel Sanders Teulon
Samuel Sanders Teulon was a notable 19th century English Gothic Revival architect.-Family:Teulon was born in Greenwich in south-east London, the son of a cabinet-maker from a French Huguenot family. His younger brother William Milford Teulon also became an architect...

. It was demolished in 1955-6, though outbuildings including the gas works
A gasworks or gas house is a factory for the manufacture of gas. The use of natural gas has made many redundant in the developed world, however they are often still used for storage.- Early gasworks :...

, lodges and stable block remain. The Church of the Holy Cross
Owlpen is a small village and civil parish in the Stroud district of Gloucestershire, England, set in a picturesque valley in the Cotswold hills. It is about one mile east of Uley, and three miles east of Dursley. The Owlpen valley is set around the settlement like an amphitheatre of wooded hills...

 behind the manor house was rebuilt in two phases in 1828 and 1874.

Twentieth century

By the end of the 19th century, the old manor had become celebrated as an icon of the Arts and Crafts movement
Arts and Crafts movement
Arts and Crafts was an international design philosophy that originated in England and flourished between 1860 and 1910 , continuing its influence until the 1930s...

. It lay in its remote valley as a Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault or Little Briar Rose by the Brothers Grimm is a classic fairytale involving a beautiful princess, enchantment, and a handsome prince...

 which had not been inhabited for nearly a hundred years, a picturesque ruin much decayed, overrun with ivy, and dwarfed by enormous yew tree
Taxus is a genus of yews, small coniferous trees or shrubs in the yew family Taxaceae. They are relatively slow-growing and can be very long-lived, and reach heights of 1-40 m, with trunk diameters of up to 4 m...

s. There was concern for its survival and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings was founded by William Morris, Philip Webb and J.J.Stevenson, and other notable members of the Pre Raphaelite brotherhood, in 1877, to oppose what they saw as the insensitive renovation of ancient buildings then occurring in Victorian...

 recommended that it should be vested in the National Trust
National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty
The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, usually known as the National Trust, is a conservation organisation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland...

, which however had no funds available for its repair.
Finally, in 1924–25, the Owlpen estate was sold for the first time in nearly a thousand years. The future of the manor house was assured when it was acquired and sensitively repaired by Norman Jewson
Norman Jewson
Norman Jewson was an English architect-craftsman of the Arts and Crafts movement, who practiced in the Cotswolds. He was a distinguished, younger member of the group which had settled in Sapperton, Gloucestershire, a feudal village in rural southwest England, under the influence of Ernest Gimson...

, a distinguished Cotswold Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts comprise a whole host of activities and hobbies that are related to making things with one's hands and skill. These can be sub-divided into handicrafts or "traditional crafts" and "the rest"...

An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

 who had worked with Ernest Gimson
Ernest Gimson
Ernest William Gimson was an English furniture designer and architect. Gimson was described by the art critic Nikolaus Pevsner as "the greatest of the English architect-designers"...

 and the brothers Sidney and Ernest Barnsley (who was his father-in-law) in Sapperton
Sapperton, Gloucestershire
Sapperton is a village and civil parish in the Cotswold District of Gloucestershire in England, about west of Cirencester. It is most famous for Sapperton canal tunnel and its connection with the Cotswold Arts and Crafts Movement in the early 20th century. It has a population of 424.The parish...

. In 1930, his friend, the artist F.L. Griggs dedicated his romantic etching of Owlpen Manor to Jewson, who had 'saved this ancient house from ruin'. Jewson has documented his repair work in his classic memoir, By Chance I did Rove (1951, twice reprinted).

Owlpen today

Owlpen Manor is the Gloucestershire home of Sir Nicholas
Sir Nicholas Mander, 4th Baronet
Sir Nicholas Mander, 4th Baronet is a British baronet.He is the elder son of Charles Marcus Mander, 3rd baronet of The Mount, by Maria Dolores , née Brödermann, of Hamburg, whom he succeeded in 2006. He was educated at Downside School, Trinity College, Cambridge , and Grenoble University...

 and Lady (Karin) Mander, and their family. Since 1974 they have carefully repaired the manor house and outbuildings, with the cottages and estate, giving them a new and integrated life for the conditions of today. They have re-created the formal Stuart
House of Stuart
The House of Stuart is a European royal house. Founded by Robert II of Scotland, the Stewarts first became monarchs of the Kingdom of Scotland during the late 14th century, and subsequently held the position of the Kings of Great Britain and Ireland...

 gardens in sympathy with the manor house and added representative family and Cotswold Arts and Crafts collections.

The manor contains a unique series of painted cloth wall-hangings dated about 1700, illustrating the life of Joseph, as well as numerous historic features, including Tudor wall paintings, panelling and plasterwork
Plasterwork refers to construction or ornamentation done with plaster, such as a layer of plaster on an interior wall or plaster decorative moldings on ceilings or walls. This is also sometimes called pargeting...


Nicholas Mander's father, the third Mander baronet
Mander Baronets
The Mander baronetcy, of The Mount, Tettenhall Wood, in the County of Staffordshire, was created in the Baronetage of the United Kingdom on 8 July 1911 in the Coronation honours of King George V, for Sir Charles Tertius Mander, English varnish manufacturer and public servant.-Coat of Arms:Arms:...

 of The Mount, died in 2006. The Mander family
Mander family
The Mander family has held for over 200 years a prominent position in the Midland counties of England, both in the family business and public life....

 gave Wightwick Manor
Wightwick Manor
Wightwick Manor is a Victorian manor house located on Wightwick Bank, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England, and one of only a few surviving examples of a house built and furnished under the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement...

 to the National Trust
National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty
The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, usually known as the National Trust, is a conservation organisation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland...

 in 1937.

The manor house and gardens are a popular attraction which has been open to the public since 1966.


In recent years, Owlpen Manor has been used as the location for a number of TV feature films, game shows and documentaries. They include Most Haunted
Most Haunted
Most Haunted is a British paranormal documentary reality television series. The series was first shown on 25 May 2002 and ended on 21 July 2010. It was broadcast on Living and presented by Yvette Fielding. The programme was based on investigating purported paranormal activity...

(Series 4, 2004); The Fly and the Eagle (a BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 drama about the romance of Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

 poet laureate
Poet Laureate
A poet laureate is a poet officially appointed by a government and is often expected to compose poems for state occasions and other government events...

 Robert Southey
Robert Southey
Robert Southey was an English poet of the Romantic school, one of the so-called "Lake Poets", and Poet Laureate for 30 years from 1813 to his death in 1843...

 and Caroline Anne Bowles
Caroline Anne Southey
Caroline Anne Southey , was an English poet and second wife of Robert Southey.Born Caroline Anne Bowles, born in Lymington she was the daughter of a navy captain. She submitted a poem, "Ellen Fitzarthur", to Robert Southey which led to a friendship. They proposed a joint poem on Robin Hood, but...

); The Trouble with Home (a documentary about the Manders at Owlpen made for HTV West); What the Tudors did for us; Countryfile
Countryfile is a British magazine-style television programme produced by BBC Birmingham, first aired on 24th July 1988, which reports on rural and environmental issues within the United Kingdom. For its first 20 years it was fronted by broadcaster John Craven, until he stepped back from the role of...

; The Other Boleyn Girl
The Other Boleyn Girl (2003 film)
The Other Boleyn Girl is a 2003 BBC television film, adapted from Philippa Gregory's novel of the same name.-Production:This was a low production budget of £750,000. The drama was shot using modern camera techniques and the cast spent four weeks in workshops improvising the script with the director...

; Watercolour Challenge
Watercolour Challenge
Watercolour Challenge was a daytime television programme broadcast in the United Kingdom.It was presented by Hannah Gordon and directed by Tim Conrad and was shown on Channel 4 from 1998 until 2001....

; as well as antiques, cookery, gardening, travel, and art programmes. The holiday cottages and restaurant featured on BBC1’s Holiday
A Holiday is a day designated as having special significance for which individuals, a government, or a religious group have deemed that observance is warranted. It is generally an official or unofficial observance of religious, national, or cultural significance, often accompanied by celebrations...

 programme, presented by John Cole and introduced by Jill Dando
Jill Dando
Jill Wendy Dando was an English journalist, television presenter and newsreader who worked for the BBC for 14 years. She was murdered by gunshot outside her home in Fulham, West London; her killer has never been identified....


Owlpen Manor appears as Bramscote Court in the BBC's period drama adaptation of Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented, also known as Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman, Tess of the d'Urbervilles or just Tess, is a novel by Thomas Hardy, first published in 1891. It initially appeared in a censored and serialised version, published by the British...

(autumn 2008), starring Bond girl Gemma Arterton
Gemma Arterton
Gemma Arterton is an English actress. She played the eponymous protagonist in the BBC adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles, and starred in the feature films St Trinian's, the James Bond film Quantum of Solace, Clash of the Titans, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Tamara...


Owlpen Manor has been the inspiration and title of a number of 20th-century poems, including well-known verses by U.A. Fanthorpe, John Burnside
John Burnside
John Burnside is a Scottish writer, born in Dunfermline.-Background:Burnside studied English and European Languages at Cambridge College of Arts and Technology. A former computer software engineer, he has been a freelance writer since 1996...

 and Reginald Arkell
Reginald Arkell
Reginald Arkell was a British script writer and comic novelist who wrote many musical plays for the London theatre. The most popular of those was an adaptation of the spoof history book 1066 and All That: 1066—and all that: A Musical Comedy based on that Memorable History by Sellar and Yeatman...

. The house is reputed to have inspired scenes in novels by John Buchan and Wolfgang Hildesheimer
Wolfgang Hildesheimer
Wolfgang Hildesheimer was a German author who incorporated the Theatre of the Absurd. He originally trained as an artist, before turning to writing.-Biography:...


The Owlpen estate

The Owlpen estate consists of permanent pasture and meadowland fringed by extensive ancient woodland surrounding Owlpen Manor, and traditional farm buildings and cottages.

Nine historic cottages on the estate, including a Grist Mill
The terms gristmill or grist mill can refer either to a building in which grain is ground into flour, or to the grinding mechanism itself.- Early history :...

 (1728), Court House (1620s), Tithe Barn (c. 1450), and weavers' cottages, are available for holiday accommodation.

There is also an atmospheric restaurant in the medieval cyder
Cider or cyder is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from apple juice. Cider varies in alcohol content from 2% abv to 8.5% abv or more in traditional English ciders. In some regions, such as Germany and America, cider may be termed "apple wine"...


The paranormal

The manor house is said to be one of the most haunted houses in the West of England, where at least four ghosts are recorded as regular apparitions. They include a black monk from medieval times, Queen Margaret of Anjou, an alchemist from the 17th century and a mischievous child. The ghost stories have featured in a number of TV programmes and books. Episodes of the television show Most Haunted were filmed in the house with Yvette Fielding
Yvette Fielding
Yvette Fielding is a British broadcaster, producer and actress. She is best known for being the presenter of the TV shows Blue Peter, Most Haunted and Ghosthunting With....-Early life and career:...

 and Derek Acorah
Derek Acorah
Derek Acorah is a British medium. He is best known for his work on Most Haunted, broadcast on Living, between 2002 and 2005. He recently presented the series Derek Acorah on Sky Real Lives...



  • "The loveliest place in England" — Fodor's
    Fodor's is the world's largest publisher of English language travel and tourism information, and the first relatively professional producer of travel guidebooks...

     Britain Guide, 2002
  • "The epitome of the English village" — HRH The Prince of Wales
    Prince of Wales
    Prince of Wales is a title traditionally granted to the heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the 15 other independent Commonwealth realms...

    , A Vision of Britain, 1989
  • "Owlpen in Gloucestershire —ah! What a dream is there!" — Vita Sackville-West
    Vita Sackville-West
    The Hon Victoria Mary Sackville-West, Lady Nicolson, CH , best known as Vita Sackville-West, was an English author, poet and gardener. She won the Hawthornden Prize in 1927 and 1933...

External links