Historic House Visits Group

Hamptworth

9th April 2003
The group who visited

           

       
It is thought that the first house on this site was built about 1620. It was extensively altered during the late Georgian and Victorian periods.  When the present owner's grandfather, H C Moffatt, inherited in 1910 he pulled it down and rebuilt as he thought it might well have been it 1620.  He was a considerable authority on the Jacobean house and its construction: his architect was Guy (later Sir Guy) Dawber, who built many houses in the west; this was one of his first. The furniture is nearly all of the period of the house, including some from France. The clocks, both long case and lantern, are also contemporary.  Death duties in 1956 caused the sale of most of the pictures but there are enough to "furnish" the house.

H C Moffatt was a very able man.  A musician, mainly on the organ, up to professional standard; a good forester, fanner and very knowledgeable on silver and porcelain.  Additionally he liked to use his hands and made what is now known as the Moffatt collection of furniture, again of the Jacobean period, in various English hardwoods. The "Prentice Pieces" are part of the family collection: they range from the 16th to 18th Centuries. The reason for making these is thought to be either, as a "passing out" test for apprentices, or instead of the modem catalogue, or yet again as a present for the wife of his "master" by way of thanks for hospitality during his apprenticeship.

There are a number of artefacts of interest; a three manual organ by Henry Willis, with intricate carved oak case; a small collection of children's chairs, including one of particular interest (a rocking chair potty); a room where the wall hangings are of patterned coloured leather, probably Spanish (but recent restoration experts say is Dutch); a carved oak four poster bed, reported to have belonged to Anthony Babington, who was executed by Queen Elizabeth I, following  detection of the Babington plot to de-throne Elizabeth and en-throne Mary Queen of Scots; a 17th Century penny-in-the-slot machine; a ruffle iron; a curious carved oak chest front of  unknown origin, thought to belong to the 1400's; like wise two figures of the same age with the original paint on them.

The house is protected by three, battery and mains operated alarm systems, wireless linked direct to the police.
The garden is formal and runs onto the woods which surround the house. The main lawn is the length of archery practice distance which was compulsory in Elizabethan times for men so as to be ready for army service.

Trees around the house include oak, beech, alder, birch, douglas fir, lawson cypress, katlapa, liquid amber, tulip, scots pine, cedar, bhutan pine, sequoia, sempervirens, sequoia gigantia (wellingtonia), cryptomeria japoncia, horse and sweet chestnut and leylandii.

The soil on the Estate, whose production supports the house, is sandy and acid; which dictates that we must be foresters rather than farmers. To us timber is a crop, to be sown, tended, and finally reaped for sale. The woodlands are mixed broadleaf and conifer.

There is a family owned 18 hole golf course, five minutes away on the Estate; it has a licensed restaurant; visitors are welcome.

A member of HISTORIC HOUSES ASSOCIATION
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