by Aspect County

Great Tangley Manor

Great Tangley Manor, reputedly the UK’s oldest continually inhabited house with foundations dating from 1016, has come to the market in Surrey for £11million. The moated manor house with glorious gardens and grounds of 10 acres, is Grade I listed and is described by Pevsner in The Buildings of England as the most impressive of Surrey’s moderate collection of half-timbered houses. 

GTM Ext Main

The historically significant property, which is just four miles from Guildford, has links to multiple British monarchs, while iconic architect Phillip Webb and William Morris expanded and furnished the home. 

The manor was reputedly Prince John’s hunting lodge in the 12th century but part of it was lost in a fire. It was then partially rebuilt as a medieval hall house in the 15th century with the Tudor frontage, the upper floor and some of the panelling being added in 1582. The owner of the house at that time contributed to the Crown during the battle against the Spanish and, in return, was reputedly given some timbers from the Spanish Armada, which are now in the dining room. 

GTM Glass dusk

In 1885, the house was bought by Wickham Flower, a founder member of the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings and part of the Arts and Crafts Movement. He commissioned Philip Webb, the famous architect, to design various extensions, with furnishings by his good friend, William Morris. 

Other visitors included Gertrude Jekyll, the horticulturist, who came and photographed the manor, occasionally bringing famed architect Edwin Lutyens with her. Leslie Stephen visited with his two daughters, Virginia and Venna, later to become Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell of Bloomsbury Group fame. 

The structure of the present gardens was devised by Flower at the end of the 19th century and it was recorded as being one of the most progressive gardens of the 1880s.

On Flowers’ death, Colonel Kennard, an MP, bought the manor and was often visited by Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. Alice Keppel, the long-time mistress of King Edward VII and great-grandmother of Queen Consort Camilla, also visited the property.

Queen Mary, George V, the Duke of York and the Duke of Kent were also notable visitors when the house was taken over by Kennard’s daughter Victoria (Ria) and her husband Frederick (Fritz) Ponsonby. Ponsonby held several court positions, notably as Equerry-in-Ordinary to Queen Victoria from 1894 to 1901, as Assistant Keeper of the Privy Purse and Assistant Private Secretary to Queen Victoria from 1897 to 1901, to King Edward VII from 1901 to 1910 and to King George V from 1910 to 1914; as Keeper of the Privy Purse from 1914 to 1935, and as Lieutenant Governor of Windsor Castle from 1928 to 1935.

King George V and Queen Mary signed the window of the dining room with a diamond ring, while the signature of King George VI can also be seen on the dressing room windows of the master suite.

In 1913, Countess Szechenyi, Miss Gladys Vanderbilt of New York (cousin to Consuelo Vanderbilt, Duchess of Marlborough), took up residence of Great Tangley Manor for the summer. The Countess inherited $25m from her father Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s estate along with The Breakers in Newport RI – one of the best known Gilded Age homes. It was reported by the New York Times that that on 16th August 1913, Gladys Vanderbilt gave birth to her second child, a daughter, while in residence at Great Tangley Manor. 

GTM EXT Portrait

Phillipa Dalby Welsh, Savills Country Department comments: Great Tangley Manor is simply the most beautiful and historic country house I have seen in a very long time. With a home being on the site for over a thousand years and possibly the longest inhabited house in Britain, naturally Great Tangley has evolved over time with each addition and renovation being carefully designed and carried out by the best craftsmen of the day. The home has been witness to so much history and this is evident from the second you see the fabulous moated gardens, let alone when you step through the front door. Not many homes can lay claim to once being a 12th century Royal hunting lodge, having timbers reputedly from the Spanish Armada, a William Morris design named after it that featured in Queen Victoria’s Windsor apartments and renovations by one of the Britain’s most iconic Arts & Crafts architects.

Guide price £11,000,000

Savills contacts: Phillippa Dalby-Welsh, Savills Country Department, 020 7016 3780

Alastair Mercer, Savills Guildford, 01483 796816