Ashleworth Manor was once the summer home of the Abbot of the Abbey of St Augustine. Almost a millennium later it's a grand and comfortable country home.
Lots of houses come to the market described as having interesting histories. Very few can match up to the 800-odd years of tales on offer at Ashleworth Manor, however, a Grade II*-listed house in a village a few miles north of Gloucester.
The house — which is for sale via Andrew Grant at £1.5 million — as it currently stands doesn’t go back quite that far. It’s primarily 15th century, with later additions including a late Victorian extension which was beautifully matched in style to the rest of the building.
Yet there were buildings here centuries before the present home was erected: this estate was once the summer residence of the Abbot of the Abbey of St Augustine, in what is now Bristol Cathedral. The Earl of Berkeley had donated the entire manor to the Abbey in the 12th century.
Five years ago a metal detectorist with permission to look in the grounds of the house discovered a papal bulla — a type of lead seal used on papal documents at the time — dating to the reign of Boniface VIII (1294-1303). It’s intriguing to imagine the sequence of events which led to the survival of this fragment of history — or how it came to be lost at all, considering that it would have come from the Supreme Pontiff himself.
The 15th century saw the house undergo many alterations and additions, thought to have been ordered by Abbot Newbury, when the huge, hand-carved oak beams were installed to support the floors above the main hall. These and many other touches from over the centuries can still be seen: there are dragon beams in the study, beautiful flooring and fireplaces, and a 15th century porch which bears the marks — so the tale goes — from target practice undertaken by soldiers garrisoned here during the English Civil War.
On the ground floor there’s a staircase hall, sitting room, study, kitchen, dining room and, rather unusually, a strong room.
Upstairs, there are five bedrooms and two bathrooms, with a double-aspect master bedroom that’s huge and has fine views of front and rear.
Above on the second floor are three smaller bedrooms and plenty of storage space — the agents suggest that it ‘could provide excellent further accommodation’ and could even be purposed as a ‘teenager’s suite’. This made us think that you could install a dumb waiter as well, and thus go weeks without running into a recalcitrant teen; equally, as we head into a New Normal, it sounds as if these three rooms would make ideal home offices for people no longer wanting (or needing) to commute.
At one end of the house there is a self-contained annexe, which like the main house spreads over three storeys, while there are stables, outbuildings and paddocks elsewhere within the 10.2 acres of grounds.
Catch up on the best country houses for sale this week that have come to the market via Country Life.