I had the privilege of living in a 17th century, 2 star listed building called Newton Manor House, when my parents had a ‘mad’ moment and bought a dilapidated property in the Isle of Purbeck, to run a specialist holiday business, promoting nature and history in Dorset within their fields of expertise.
This house had seen generations of families come and go, and had been used for many purposes, including a girl’s school. While we were there we met a few returning pupils with their families, wanting to relive their little bit of this great house’s history.
Everyone loves a good story, and our house wasn’t exempt from rumours of ghosts as back in 1685 on the high street near to the house, stood the gallows on which body parts of executed prisoners following Judge Jeffreys’ assize were hung in chains. Apparently one guest saw a green hand! During my time there, I think I slept in each of the 9 guest rooms, and can say I didn’t meet a green hand, friendly or otherwise. I remember knocking on the carved wooden panels, just in case there was a secret door or tunnel (sadly I never found one).
With any house we live in, people come and go, with their own life stories. Our homes become a part of us, whether happily or not, but there is something to be said of living in a great house of history, such as our manor house. As a child, I would imagine characters that may have lived there, as I noticed graffiti drawn in pencil in the rafters of the loft, left by previous people living there.
Over the years, this great house had been ‘separated’ into different properties, including the Manor, Hall, Lodge, and Cottage. Land had been sold for housing and slowly and surely this house of grandeur, that had seen many things behind and in front of its walls, became a house of history surrounded by unimpressive new builds that imposed on its outlook.
I have been to many wonderful historical homes over the years, learning about our history, coming to life before our eyes. I have been in houses not much to look at, but with great historical significance such as the atmospheric Anne Franks House in Amsterdam, right through to stately homes showing off their architecture, power and influence such as Kingston Lacy owned by the National Trust. I have also worked in the National Trust Tearooms looking out on the very impressive Corfe Castle in the Isle of Purbeck, and enjoyed staying at Tiverton Castle in Devon, for my birthday last year.
My experience of living in a manor house gave me a great insight into the importance of valuing our country’s history, and I feel honoured to have played a part in its story.
Why am I sharing this with you?
From the 8th – 11th September there will be hundreds of secret, hidden gems, across our green and pleasant land, opening their doors for the public to catch a glimpse of their stunning architecture, history, and for us to learn about their untold stories.
Some of the open day’s properties are regularly open to the public, but are taking part by allowing free entry – so this would be a great opportunity to see what is in your local area.
I recommend a visit to the open properties taking part in the Heritage Open Days,
You will not be disappointed.
To check your available events in your area, please visit Heritage Open Day’s Directory for details. Some places have tours available and some properties require advance booking, so don’t miss out and have a great day exploring our great heritage sites.
Have you been to one of the Heritage Open days? Which places would you recommend?
Have you lived or stayed in a house of history?