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Wiltshire Community History

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Tollard Royal

King John's Hunting Lodge

King John's Hunting Lodge Date Photo Taken 2012
Uploaded 21/11/2013 11:51:50
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Map Latitude 50.95847740775784 : Longitude -2.0809704065322876
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

A notable building within the parish is King John's House. Some writers have suggested that it was King John's hunting lodge, although its Grade II* listing describes it as incorporating 13th, 14th, 16th and 17th century elements which would indicate a later date. Nevertheless the house was presumably the manor house of Tollard Govis or Tollard Lucy. The central block of the house dates from the mid-13th century and is described in its listing as a 13th century hall house with a 17th century east service cross wing and solar range to the west; the three window front of the block is of two storeys; several medieval windows survive. The chimney stack dates from the 17th century.

An article in the Gentleman's Magazine of September 1811 includes a sketch of the house at that date, entitled "King John's Hunting Seat" and described as "now a farmhouse". The article refers to the Court Leet traditionally held at the site of the Larmer Tree on the first Monday in September with the Steward of the Lord of the Manor sitting under the tree. The article goes on to describe the hunting and killing of a brace of bucks after the closure of the Court.

The house was extensively restored in 1880s by General A.H.L.F Pitt-Rivers when some early 19th century additions were removed and a single storey extension was constructed north and north-west of the medieval block. It was in King John's House in which General Pitt-Rivers housed the visual arts collection open to the public free of charge; shown there were works by Cuyp, Cranach, Breughel, and Poussin, amongst others. A basement room was used as a reading and recreation room for the villagers. The General studied the architectural history of the house and excavated its environs, publishing a report on his work in 1890.

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