Country houses for sale

The history of a Wiltshire country house

West Foscote House, on the market with Chesterton Humberts, was designed by James Thomson, who was responsible for a vast number of houses and buildings across the Neeld estate in Wiltshire. Thomson also worked with John Nash on Cumberland Terrace in Regents Park, London and was involved in building development for the Ladbroke estate in Notting Hill.

West Foscote House was built in 1850 and nown as West Foscott Farm for much of its history. It was built as part of a grand redevelopment across the Neeld estate by landowner, Joseph Neeld. Neeld had inherited a vast fortunefrom his uncle which allowed him to purchase the estate at Grittleton in 1828. He instantly set about improving the estate, building new cottages and farm houses, as well as new churches and schools. Neeld was proactive in improving his estate, while also been a keen amateur architect. Combined with Thomson’s designs he established a distinct architectural identity on his estate which has come to be recognised as the Neeld-Thomson style featuring picturesque detailing, with barge-boards, gables, and porches. It has been described as a mixture of ornamentation with a Tudor influence. Thomson was responsible for a number of buildings, including Grittleton House in 1842; East Foscote Farm in 1835; and Leigh Delamere Church in 1846.


West Foscote House features many of the signature Neeld-Thomson features, most prominently the domed bell tower topped with weather vane in the centre of the roof. The tower also features a stone sundial, a plaque with an inscription, as well as a shield featuring the date ‘1850′.

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The first residents of the house moved in during 1850 and were recorded in the 1851 census. Head of the house was John Smith, 36 year old farmer of 164 acres employing three labourers. He was in the house with his wife, 27 year old Ann and their eight month old son, Francis, as well as three live-in servants. However, by the time of the 1861 census the house had become the home of 67 year old John Bence and his wife Mary, as well as their five children (and their five year old grandson who was born in Australia).

By the late 1860s, the house was the home of Henry Gough. He was recorded in the 1871 census as only 24 years old, farming 275 acres and employing six men, and at this time he was unmarried and only living in the house with a housekeeper and a farm hand. Henry Gough continued in the house throughout the late 19th century. He later married Martha and had three children, Henry, Marion and Eva. In 1909, Henry passed away and his wife Martha continued to run the farm with her son Henry. However, by the outbreak of World War I, in 1914, West Foscote House had become the home of Edward Harding, who continued to live in the house throughout the early 20th century. The Harding family were last recorded in the house over 50 years later, in the late 1960s.

For more details on West Foscote House

To read the full history visit my blog – The House Historian