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Wiltshire Community History

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Title :Haselbury House
Author :Harold Brakspear
Book Type :Buildings
Publisher :WANHS
Date :1896
ISBN :
Journal :WAM Volume 28, pages 330-2
Full Text :HASELBURY HOUSE
The present house is in plan practically that of the fifteenth century, built, as Leland says, by "old Mr. Boneham's father," but the upper part of the walls, gables, and chimney are mostly seventeenth century of the time of the Spekes with modern sash windows inserted in place of many of the mullioned ones.

Upon examination the fifteenth century plan is easily traced, and closely resembles those of the contemporary manor houses of South Wraxall and Great Chalfield. A hall of one storey occupies the centre (now cut up into separate rooms), and is flanked at each end by a two-storied cross wing projecting beyond the hall both front and back. The hall would be originally entered through a porch, on the site of the present entrance, which has entirely disappeared. The two-storied wing to the right would be occupied, as at present, by the kitchen offices on the ground-floor, but appears to have had a room of considerable importance on the floor above, as there yet remains a buttress in the centre of the front gable corbelled out at the top to carry an oriel, as at Bewley and Chalfield. At the back of this wing, facing the inner court, is a good specimen of a fifteenth century window of four divisions with heavy centre mullion and pointed arched heads to the lights, without cusps. There are scanty evidences of a similar window in the outside wall of the same room. There are also two or three original arched doorways in this part of the house. But the most interesting feature of the fifteenth century is at the other end of the hall, where still remains the great arch of the oriel, which unlike those at Wraxall and Chalfield, went the full height of the building. The arch is four-centred and panelled on the soffit; but there are no remains of the oriel itself. Opposite this arch on the other side of the hall is a corresponding panelled arch of smaller dimensions opening into a square recess lighted by a four-light window similar to that in the kitchen wing. In the wall to the left of the window is a small arch panelled like the rest, which led to the staircase. The opposite wall of the recess has been cut through to form a modern passage at the back of the hall.

The staircase dates from the seventeenth century (though probably occupying the position of the original one), and is lighted by a couple of two-light double-transomed windows stepped to follow the stairs and one of a single-light in the angle next the recess just described. There is evidence that the adjoining building continued further north and has since been pulled down.

To the east of the fifteenth century house is a good-sized house of the seventeenth century, which-although now detached - is supposed originally to have been connected with the main building. It is of three stories in height, and is entered through an arched doorway in the centre of the front with a three-light window on either side. There is a handsome contemporary fireplace in one of the upper rooms.

On the north side of the house, enclosing the gardens, is a high coped wall, with circular bastions at each end battlemented at the top, with a walk all round on the inside. In front of the house is a large walled forecourt in the south wall of which are the principal entrance-gate piers, surmounted by richly-carved urns on which are shields of arms of Speke impaling and quartering Mayney. In the lower part of each pier on the inside is a quaint little recessed seat in a niche. In each side wall is a good gateway with large balls on the top of the piers. There is another gateway on the opposite side of the present farm-yard to the main gates, and the lower parts of the piers remain near Chapel Plaister of yet another large gate.

Haselbury was originally a parish distinct from Box, and had a Church dedicated to St. Anne, which is supposed to have stood in a field at a little distance from the house in which stone coffins have been found.

Abbreviations used:
  • WAM Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Magazine
  • WNQ Wiltshire Notes and Queries

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