WITHINGTON MANOR // GLOUSTERSHIRE
At a date between 674 and 704 a.d. a monastery was founded at Withington by Ethelred, king of Mercia, and Oshere, The bishops of Worcester remained owners of the manor of WITHINGTON until the forfeiture of episcopal estates in the Civil War. In 1648 the manor was sold to John Howe of Cassey Compton, already lessee of the manor farm; he remained lord in 1654 and presumably until the bishop recovered his estates at the Restoration. Withington then remained in the bishops' possession until 1860 when it passed with their other estates to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
The manor house and demesne farm of Withington were leased under the bishop of Worcester by 1466, (fn. 225) and in 1510 an 80-year lease was granted to Thomas Bush, a Northleach wool merchant. In 1865 it reverted to the church. In 1866 the Ecclesiastical Commissioners used the manor farm, another farm, and Withington woods, apparently the whole of the estate not then held from them by copyhold or leasehold for lives, as a part of the re-endowment estate of the dean and chapter of Gloucester cathedral. The dean and chapter returned that land to the Commissioners in exchange for other property in 1892. Having enfranchised the copyhold land of the manor, the Commissioners sold the manorial rights, the woods, the two farms, and a third farm, based on the house later called Halewell Close, in 1926 to Reginald Julius Gunther. At Gunther's death in 1967 his estate was divided, the manor farm with the woods passing to his niece Mary, the wife of Anthony Noel, earl of Gainsborough. Lady Gainsborough's son, the Hon. Gerard Noel, sold the farm, a total of c. 800 a. including the woods, in 1997 and it is the current owners who are making the estate available for filming or commercial photography.
The manor house, called Manor Farm in the late 19th century and Withington Manor as of the 1990s, occupies with its farm buildings a large site at north end of the upper part of Withington village; in the Middle Ages it may have comprised a complex of buildings, as the reference to the gatehouse in 1476 suggests. The earliest part of the surviving house is an L-shaped mid 17th-century building, partly ashlar faced, with twin gables on both the east and south facades. By 1883 (fn. 252) the angle of the L-shaped house had been filled in, making a rectangular plan and wings had been built to the north-east and north-west. The entrance was on the east. In 1927 the house, which then had two- and threelight mullioned windows with hoodmoulds, was extensively remodelled by R. J. Gunther. The projecting wings were demolished and a new range, as tall as the rest of the house, was built along the north side, adding an extra 18thcentury style bay to the east facade and concealing the low range built in the angle of the L. A service wing was added to the new range. The external details, including the string courses and most of the six-light windows, date from that remodelling, as do many of the internal features.
On the north-west of the house is a square, cross-gabled dovecot, probably of the 17th or early 18th century.
The estate has excellent equestrian facilities – indoor school, outdoor arena, horse walker, wash box, well known cross country course (www.withington-manor.com) with world class riders competing at it.
There are rolling hills, sheep, barns (some old with fabulous beams, scruffy doors), vast hay storage, wood chip boiler, solar panels, stables – American barn style and courtyard style, plus numerous cottages, many with roses round the doors!
Ancient woodland, a 30 year old plantation with 40,000 trees and wonderful rides dividing the sections, pond, water meadows, streams, hens and dogs!