A glimpse into history

PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 December 2014

The house is in an attractive South Somerset village

The house is in an attractive South Somerset village


Auction particulars written in 1913 advertise the ‘exceptionally valuable and important Tintinhull Court Estate’ as being set ‘one mile from Montacute Station, three miles from the prosperous little market town of Martock and four miles from the important and agricultural centre of Yeovil’.

A book-lined staircase at Tintinhull CourtA book-lined staircase at Tintinhull Court

The advertisement – providing a glimpse into a time in Somerset’s history when so many more places boasted their own railway station – tells us that the ‘charming old Jacobean residence’, together with the dower house, are to be found in ‘the most fertile part of the county.’

Today this 17th century dower house is run by the National Trust and is well known for its gardens. Its Jacobean near neighbour, which has medieval origins, is known as Tintinhull Court. It stands next to St Margaret’s Church and it was once was the priest’s house. The winter drawing room was the property’s original hall and lodgings; the first floor study was the original bed chamber.

When the monasteries were dissolved by Henry VIII, the manor of Tintinhull was passed to the Crown and Sir William Petre was granted a 21 year lease for an annual rent of £7 8s 10d.

During the early 16th Century the house had a succession of freeholders, leaseholders and tenants including Queen Mary. Early additions to the property include the oriel (in around 1530), which is now a library and office with stairs to the first floor.

The Winter Drawing RoomThe Winter Drawing Room

The house was taken over by the Napper family in 1560 and we can see their additions and alterations today. Beautiful features include wall panelling dating from the 17th Century.

In 1791 Admiral Marriot Arbuthnot bought the Tintinhull estate and it remained in the family until the 20th Century. In more recent years, there have been further improvements including a fitted kitchen and conservatory.

The property is now on the market and it’s described as: “A truly impressive and magnificent home of great character with a wealth of wonderful features,” by Mathew Wood of Orchards Estates in Stoke sub Hamdon.

Owner Elizabeth Carey-Wilson, who has lived here for 14 years, spent two years working on the house.

She tells me: “I took every bit of piping out; I redid completely the central heating and the water.

“I like altering houses, so doing it up was interesting and quite fun.”

She commissioned some research on the property which revealed its fascinating history.

“The Napper family was here for 200 years,” she says.

“They also owned Tintinhull House which is now National Trust. A lot of the features in this house and that house are the same because the Nappers built it as a dower house.”

As well as the summer and winter drawing rooms and the oriel library, Tintinhull Court has a reception hall, garden room, study and wine cellar. There are seven bedrooms in the main house plus some staff quarters. It stands in grounds of about 18 acres.

As she prepares to move on, Elizabeth says: “I’ve enjoyed living here; it needs a family with children.

“Tintinhull is a very friendly village with lots going on.”

It is indeed a busy village, with its own school, pub, sports field, allotments and tennis courts. Regular events include drama group productions and the Tintin Ten, an annual summer’s evening road race.

Tintinhull Gardens, open until the end of the first weekend of November, were created by amateur gardener Phyllis Reiss and are described as one of the most harmonious small gardens in Britain.

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