The Old Manor House (Manor of Walton Leigh)

 

This fine mediaeval timber framed house (late 15th century, possibly with re-used earlier timbers) would appear to have been the capital mansion of the Manor of Walton Leigh until the manor was purchased by the Crown in 1537, after which manorial business was transacted elsewhere. The house reverted to the status of the principal farmhouse in the manor, much of its arable land lying in Thamesfield, between Terrace Road and the river Thames. So it remained with a variety of Crown lessees and sub-tenants who actually farmed the land. When Dr. Richard Palmer held the manor from the Crown, a survey of 1779 showed The Old Manor House estate to comprise the house and a large barn, with eleven acres of adjoining land and seventy five acres of land distributed in Thames Common Field, Church Field and Thames Mead. The land adjoining the house was divided into three closes which contained a large straggling pond abutting Thames Streat, and 115 elm trees in the hedgerows. After the enclosures of 1800 New Farm and Thamesfield Farms were built to cater for the Thamesfield arable land, and the old Manor House seem to have gradually shed its farming interests. The house was let off as a residence and its fringe land sold for building development. 

 

In 1870’s James Thorne described the house as dilapidated and sdualid, divided into seven tenements whose occupants were miserably poor. In the 1890’s the hall of the house appears to have been repaired and used for Church functions. The house was rescued in the years before the First World War (1914) by a Mr. Lowther Bridger who began the work of restoration. But the house remained a problem for many years. The local authority. rejected it as possible Council Offices. An offer was made to convert it into a marmalade factory. Numerous.offers were made to convert it into flats.‘ In 1937 the owner, who had recently inherited the property, offered it as a gift to the County Council, but this was declined as the local authority was not prepared to pay for its upkeep. After years of doubt a series of owners began the process of restoration. It was acquired by a new owner in 1957 who completed the refurbishment work. In 1972 the Manor Place cottages, were acquired by the local authority and demolished.

 

As with many ancient buildings, traditions are attached to The Old Manor House. In the 1840’s Britten and Brayley recorded a tradition that John Bradshaw, President of the Court that tried King Charles 1st, had lived there. This was romantically embroidered by later writers who recorded traditions that the Kings death warrant had been signed in The Old Manor House, and that a later occupant had been Judge Jeffreys. The Bradshaw tradition stuck so firmly that for long the property was known as President Bradshaw’s House. No evidence has been produced to support these improbable claims. Bradshaw had been assigned the Dean of Westminster’s lodgings and an armed guard, and the death warrant was signed in the Palace of Westminster.

Old Manor House, Manor Road, Walton-on-Thames. Photo taken 5th May 2016 by @angelpersefone

Old Manor House, Manor Road, Walton-on-Thames. Photo taken 5th May 2016 by @angelpersefone

Old Manor House, Manor Road, Walton-on-Thames. Photo taken 5th May 2016 by @astrotomato