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Woolborough, the History of a Medieval Manor House

Shelley, Oliver Cromwell, John Evelyn, AA Milne, and the Harrison sisters all shared one thing in common; Woolborough Farm in Outwood, Surrey, the beautiful house in Outwood on sale with us for £1,500,000. The history of this medieval hall house is astounding and has been featured in the nation papers on more than one occasion, including The Sunday Times.

 

Click here to view this Grade II listed five-bedroom farmhouse which offers over seven acres of land, stables, paddocks, a swimming pool and over 700 years of extraordinary history.

The name Woolborough Farm derived from Thomas de Wolbergh the owner during the early 1300s. During this period the house was believed to have been the residence of wealthy farmers and by 1478 had become a manorship. In the late 1400s it is rumoured that a small battle of the War of Roses took place in the grounds of Woolborough farm, with cannonballs having been discovered dating to this period and a medieval illustration of a cannon with Woolborough Farm in the background.

 

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Woolborough Farm’s occupants secretly committed the greatest treason of the time by harbouring a Catholic priest in the roof. The remains of the priest hole today show markings on the wall, which are thought to have been made by the priest himself as he counted the days he spent concealed in the walls.

In the sixteenth century, the estate came into possession of George Evelyn the Father of John Evelyn the famous writer and diarist who witnessed the Great Fire of London and the Great Plague. Woolborough Farm was gifted to his sister on her marriage to Thomas Stoughton, an English politician.

In 1792, the estate was inherited by the major romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s father. Shelley was believed to have spent time in his childhood playing in the gardens and was set to inherit the house before being expelled from Oxford and eloping with Harriet Westbrook, much to his Father’s disapproval. Following Shelley’s tragic drowning in 1822, Woolborough farm was succeeded by his only son Sir Percy Florence Shelley in 1844.

In the 1920’s, A.A. Milne stayed as a guest at Woolborough Farm and was said to be taken by the grounds, in particular the lake and island, which inspired scenes for Winnie the Pooh and the “World of Pooh”.

Beatrice Harrison, celebrated cellist, famous for being chosen as the official soloist for the HMV recording with Elgar as conductor and for broadcasting her duets with nightingales on the BBC became owner of Woolborough farm in 1937 with her sister Monica. She recorded her time there in her personal diaries as they tended to their vast collection of animals in the grounds.

During the Second World War a cannon ball crashed through the ceiling from the roof above. 300 years late, this was one of the shots from Oliver Cromwell’s army during the civil war from around 1640, which had lodged in the rafters until the wood eventually gave way.

The current owners must have an appetite for history as they also own and run Britain’s oldest paint manufacturer, the luxury, Mylands paints, which they have used throughout Woolborough Farm to sympathetically restore the property.

Wendi Leech, Partner for Robert Leech comments; “Woolborough Farm is a truly unique property, not only do the grounds and house offer an idyllic family home but the new owner will help write the next chapter in this amazing history.”

The current house dates back to the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries with features added over the years from its succession of owners. The original chimney and door is still retained and believed to date back to the fourteenth century. The door even shows mysterious markings believed to be medieval witch marks and there are arrows in the oldest part of the house to send evil spirits up the chimney.

“The house includes original exposed beams, cellars for a games room, a heated swimming pool, attic playroom and outhouses” explains Wendi. “Outwood is a picturesque village, close to nearby the market town of Reigate with fast commuter links to London from Redhill and Salfords stations.”