The Almshouses

The Almshouses

Edwardian Times

Edwardian Times

 

The Almshouse and Schoolroom is a charming and unique site comprising several buildings dating back to the seventeenth century. The schoolroom is largely unchanged and contains many original features and furnishings. The Almshouse was founded by Lady Margaret Hungerford, who lived with her husband Sir Edward Hungerford in nearby Corsham House (now known as Corsham Court). Sir Edward commanded Oliver Cromwell's Wiltshire forces during the English Civil War. The Hungerford family Arms still hang above the main entrance to the building, although are somewhat dwarfed by the Halliday Arms belonging to Lady Margaret’s family . Lady Margaret was widowed and childless when she built the Almshouse and Schoolroom in 1668. Ever mindful of Puritan conduct she wrote 45 ordinances for her beneficiaries to live by.

 

Though steeped in the 17th century the complex is very much alive today. Trustees continue to manage the property whilst volunteer guides welcome visitors from all over the world. Beneficiaries still live in the original six almshouses and a conversion to the stable block has created four further dwellings. Disabled visitors can bring their car through the gates and over the gravel drive to access paving at both the front and rear entrances. Part of the charm of this listed building is that it is largely unaltered and there are uneven surfaces both inside and out. Access is limited to the ground floor for wheelchair users and those with severe mobility issues may wish to avoid using the stairs. There is also access to a disabled toilet.

 

Location : Pound Pill, Corsham, SN13 9HT

Transport: Chippenham (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 231, 232 and X31 (all Chippenham to Bath) stop near by.

Opening Times : Tuesdays/ Wednesdays 11.00 - 16.00; Fridays / Saturdays 13.30 - 16.00

Tickets : Adults £3.00;  Seniors/Concessions £2.50;  Children (- 16) £0.50

Tel: 01225 810586

Sham Ruin

Sham Ruin

Corsham Court

Corsham Court

 

Corsham was a royal manor in the days of the Saxon kings, reputed to have been a seat of Ethelred the Unready. After William the Conqueror, the manor continued to be passed down through the generations in the royal family. It often formed part of the dower of the Queens of England during the late 14th and early 15th centuries, becoming known as Corsham Reginae. During the 16th century, the manor went to two of Henry VIII's wives, namely Catherine of Aragon until 1536, and Katherine Parr until 1548. During the reign of Elizabeth I the estate passed out of the royal family; the present house was built in 1582 by Thomas Smythe. The owner of Corsham Court in the mid-seventeenth century was the commander of the Parliamentarian New Model Army in Wiltshire; his wife, Lady Margaret Hungerford, built what came to be known as the Hungerford Almshouses in the centre of town (see above). The house was bought in 1745 by Sir Paul Methuen for his cousin, also named Paul Methuen, whose grandson became Baron Methuen. The house remains the seat of the Methuen family.

 

In 1761-64, Lancelot 'Capability' Brown was commissioned to redesign and enlarge the house and landscape the park. Brown set the style of the present day building by retaining the Elizabethan stables, the Riding School, and the great gabled front to the house, which he doubled in depth and provided gabled wings at either end of the house, creating the Picture Gallery and State Rooms in the east wing and a library and new kitchens in the west wing. The Picture Gallery was designed as a triple cube and boasts a coffered plasterwork ceiling over a high cove stuccoed in scrolls, designed by Brown and carried out by Thomas Stocking of Bristol (1763–66). The Long Gallery contains Italian Old Masters, with a famous marquetry commode and matching pair of candlestands by John Cobb (1772) and four pier glasses designed by Robert Adam (1770).

 

In 1795 Paul Cobb Methuen commissioned Humphry Repton to complete the landscape, left unfinished at Brown's death with the lake still to be completed, and in 1796 commissioned John Nash to completely remodel the north façade in the Strawberry Hill Gothic style, beating out the experienced James Wyatt for the commission. Nash further embellished other areas of Brown's external building works, including Brown's Gothic Bath House in the North Avenue, as well as reorganising the internal layout to form a grand hall and a library, at the centre of which is the large library table associated with a payment to Thomas Chippendale's partner Haig, in 1779. By 1808 much of Nash's work was replaced with a more solid structure, when it was discovered that he had used unseasoned timber in beams and joists; all of Nash's work at Corsham save the Library was destroyed when it was remodelled by Thomas Bellamy in 1844–49 during the ownership by Paul Methuen, 1st Baron Methuen, who was Member of Parliament for Wiltshire and Wiltshire North. Wheelchair users (accompanied by one carer or companion) may visit the gardens free of charge during opening hours. Motorised wheel chairs cannot be accommodated in the house, although a non-motorised pushed wheelchair is available to be borrowed without charge. Wheelchair users should bear in mind that the Staterooms are on the ground floor, but that this is at a higher level than the entrance. A platform lift is made available to reach the necessary level, where the pushed wheelchair may be used. Disabled visitors should drive up to the front door of the house for direction to parking facilities. Guided tours of the Breakfast Room and Library will be charged at an additional £2.00 per person.

 

Location : Church Street, Corsham, Wiltshire SN13 0BZ

Transport: Chippenham (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 231, 232 and X31 (all Chippenham to Bath) stop near by.

Opening Times : Tuesdays to Thursdays / Weekends + Bank Holidays 14.00 - 17.30

Tickets House + Gardens: Adults £10.00;  Children £5.00

Tickets Gardens Only: Adults £5.00;  Children £2.50

Tel: 01249 712214