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Wiltshire Community History

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Question Date :

Monday 4th July 2011 10:07

Question:
Help! I am confused! Having read Desmond Hawkins' “The Grove diaries” I thought I would like to find out more about Ferne House. But while the Victoria History states the house was demolished forty years ago, and I cannot see it on any modern map, it is still described, under 'Berwick St John' in the latest edition of Pevsner's “Wiltshire” in the “Buildings of England Series”. What's going on?

Answer:
Well might you be confused, gentle inquirer. There is a Ferne House, but it is the fourth to carry the name. The first Ferne House was the manor house of the de Ferne family, and it passed to the Brookway family, and thence, by sale from George Brockway to William Grove of Shaftesbury in 1561, with title passing in 1563. By 1809, it was so dilapidated as to be fit only for demolition. The second Ferne House was built by Thomas Grove, “on an enlarged scale in the year 1811 on the site of the old structure … in an elevated situation, commanding a pleasing view of the surrounding country”. A photograph of this house, dating from 1850, is reproduced in “The Grove diaries” between pp. 96-97, and the National Monuments Records Centre, Swindon, the Salisbury \nd South Wiltshire Museum, the Library of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society at the Devizes Museum would be the next ports of call for any other illustrations of it.

However, shortly afterwards, the property was remodelled again, assuming a square ground-plan. Of this third incarnation there are illustrations both in “The Grove diaries”, between pp. 240 and 241, and in the Victoria History of Wiltshire, vol. 13, facing p. 16. It was this house which passed out of the ownership of the Grove family in 1902, by sale to A.H. Charlesworth, being further enlarged in 1903. The house was bought in 1914 by the Duke of Hamilton, and remained in the family's possession until the estate was bequeathed to the Animal Defence and Anti-Vivisection Society, for the purposes of maintaining an animal sanctuary. It is this house which Pevsner described in 1963, and which has remained in his “Wiltshire”, possibly overlooked because the property is ascribed to Berwick St John. The estate straddles the boundary between Berwick St John and Donhead St Andrew, and both the Groves and the Hamiltons maintained connections with St John's church at Berwick, although Ferne House was actually in Donhead St Andrew. The house was demolished in about 1966, and the animal sanctuary moved to Chard, in Somerset, although the Animal Defence Trust still owned the property, including the still-standing stable block and lodges in 1985. Only the gate piers to the park remain as Listed Buildings.

Sometime after 1985 the estate passed into the ownership of the 4th Viscount and Viscountess Rothermere: precision is impossible as the noble lord only quotes his work address in the standard sources. In 2001 had the fourth and present Ferne House - known as Ferne Park - built at a cost of 40m to the design of Quinlan Terry, in Palladian style. The house gained an award from the Georgian Group in 2003, and last year permission was sought to build two additional wings. The property was evidently reviewed in “Vanity Fair”, November 2006.

Bibliography:
Crowley, D.A., editor: A history of Wiltshire, vol. 13: south-west Wiltshire: Chalke and Dunworth Hundreds (Oxford University Press for the IHR, 1987. – isbn 0 19 722769 4. - VCH 13), pp. 128, 130; ill. f.p. 16.

Dorset Echo: “Lord’s £40m home nears completion”, 24 September 2003, at http://archive.thisisdorset.net/2003/9/24/76700.html


Grey Cardigan [pseudonym]: Comment on Ferne House, at http://uk.mailarchive.ca/politics.misc/2006-10/12872.html

Hoare, Sir Richard Colt: The modern history of south Wiltshire, vol. 4, pt 1: the Hundred of Dunworth, by James Everard, Baron Arundell and Sir R.C. Hoare (London: J.B. Nichols and Son, 1829), pp. 55-56.

Pevsner, Sir Nikolaus: Wiltshire. 2nd ed. (Yale University Press, 2002. – isbn 0 300 09659 3. – The buildings of England), p. 109.

Salisbury District Council: Schedule of Planning Applications for Consideration, 31 August 2006, at http://documents.salisbury.gov.uk/council/committees/Western-Area-Committee/2006-08-31/R07-2006-08-31.pdf

The Times Online: article from Sunday Times Property Section, 14 March 2004, at http://property.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/property/article1043051.ece?token=null&offset=0

Wiltshire Family History Society: Berwick St John and Donhead St Andrew monumental inscriptions [microfiches]

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