Redlynch, Somerset



In the mid-12th century the manor of Redlynch was held by Henry Lovel (died 1194)[1] of Castle Cary.</ref>[2] It was later part of the hundred of Bruton.[3]


In the late 14th century it was acquired by James FitzJames (died c. 1391), whose great-grandson, Sir John FitzJames (died c. 1542), Chief Justice of the King's Bench, is recorded in 1538 as having a house at Redlynch which included a "great chamber over a parlour". He was succeeded by his cousin Sir Nicholas FitzJames, who made improvements to the house. His heir was his nephew John FitzJames, who in 1617 sold the estate to Sir Robert Gorges of Bristol.


In 1617 Sir Robert Gorges of Bristol purchased the estate from John FitzJames. Helena Snakenborg, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I and widow successively of William Parr, Marquis of Northampton, and of Sir Thomas Gorges, died at the age of 86 on 10 April 1635 at Redlynch, the residence of her son, Sir Robert Gorges. She was buried on 14 May in Salisbury Cathedral. In 1672 the Gorges family conveyed the estate to Sir Stephen Fox (1627–1716) in settlement of a debt.[1]


In 1672 Sir Stephen Fox, paymaster-general to King Charles II, acquired the estate in settlement of a debt due from the Gorges family and in 1688 commenced repairs to the large 16th-century house[1] then standing. In 1708/09 he commenced building a new house adjacent to the old one,[1] to the designs of the architect Thomas Fort, and also developed the formal gardens.

The estate descended to his eldest son Stephen Fox-Strangways, 1st Earl of Ilchester (1704–1776), who in the first half of the 18th century built the east wing of the house to the design of Nathaniel Ireson of Wincanton. He also expanded the park and built many decorative features including a lake, waterfall, temple, Chinese seat, and a bird house. In 1755 he added a Gothic-style entrance gate on the west side, designed by Henry Flitcroft. King George III was a visitor to Redlynch on his way to Weymouth.[1]

Henry Fox-Strangways, 2nd Earl of Ilchester (1747–1802) transferred his principal seat to Melbury[4] in Dorset, but information about the Ilchester household at Redlynch survives in the published diaries and correspondence of Agnes Porter, a Scottish-born governess his many daughters from 1784 to 1797.[5] The Redlynch estate suffered from neglect, but in the 1790s he planned to convert the deer park to agricultural use, which scheme was effected by his son Henry Fox-Strangways, 3rd Earl of Ilchester (1787–1858). In 1851 part of the house was in use as a farmhouse.

In 1901 Henry Fox-Strangways, 5th Earl of Ilchester (1847–1905), still seated at Melbury, converted the service block into his principal residence on the estate, to the designs of Sir Edwin Lutyens.[1][2][6] The west block was previously the stable.[7] Within the grounds are an orangery,[8] summerhouse[9] and walled kitchen garden.[2]

In 1912 the estate was sold by Giles Fox-Strangways, 6th Earl of Ilchester (1874–1959) to the Cavendish Land Company.[4]

Cavendish Land Company

The Cavendish Land Company sold the estate to a series of speculators. The new residence converted by the 5th Earl was partially destroyed by a fire in 1914 caused by Suffragettes. This was later rebuilt but at the same time the main part of the 1st Earl's mansion was demolished.[4]


In 1935 it was purchased by Margaret "Daisy" Leiter (died 1967), widow of Henry Howard, 19th Earl of Suffolk, 12th Earl of Berkshire (1877–1917), and sister-in-law of Lord Curzon, who lived there until her death.[4] During World War II the United States Army 3rd Armored Division (spearhead) was based at Redlynch Park.[10] Remnants of the entrance bunker survive, marked with an inscribed plaque thanking the local people.

Later 20th century

Redlynch served as a school between about 1971 and 1982. In 1985 the house and stables were split into flats, and the orangery was sold for use as a separate house.[4]

The surviving folly known as "The Towers", which displays the arms of the Fox family, is included in the Heritage at Risk Register produced by English Heritage,[11] and the whole park is on the Heritage at Risk Register.[12]

Church of St Peter

The Church of St Peter dates from 1750 and was built by the 1st Earl to the designs of Nathaniel Ireson of Wincanton. It has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* listed building.[13]


  1. Historic England. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
  2. "Redlynch Park". Somerset Historic Environment Record. Retrieved 8 February 2008.
  3. "Bruton Hundred". A History of Britain. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  4. Historic England listing.
  5. A Governess in the Age of Jane Austen. The Journals and Letters of Agnes Porter, ed. Joanna Martin (London: Hambledon Press, 1998). ISBN 1852851643
  6. "East Block, Redlynch Park House, with gates and wing walls on South West corner, and North West corner". Retrieved 8 February 2008.
  7. "West Block former stable, Redlynch Park House". Retrieved 8 February 2008.
  8. "The Orangery, 50 metres North of the East and West Blocks, Redlynch Park House". Retrieved 8 February 2008.
  9. "The Summerhouse, about 70 metres East of East Block, Redlynch Park House". Retrieved 8 February 2008.
  10. Wakefield, Ken (1994). Operation Bolero: The Americans in Bristol and the West Country 1942–45. Crecy Books. p. 46. ISBN 0-947554-51-3.
  11. "South West England" (PDF). Heritage at Risk. English Heritage. p. 11. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  12. "Redlynch Park, Bruton/Shepton Montague – South Somerset". Heritage at Risk. English Heritage. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  13. "Church of Saint Peter". Retrieved 8 February 2008.

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