DiCamillo Companion

Mells Manor House

  • House & Family History: Mells was originally a grange of Abbot Selwood of Glastonbury. Mells Manor was supposedly acquired by Jack Horner, who discovered the deed in a pie given to him to carry to London. Jack was actually John Horner, steward to Richard Whiting, the last abbot of Glastonbury Abbey. Legend has it that, prior to the abbey's destruction by Henry VIII's minions, the abbot sent Horner to London with a huge Christmas pie which had the deeds to a dozen manors hidden within it and that, during the journey, Horner opened the pie and fished out the deed of Mells Manor. (The manor's properties included lead mines in the Mendip Hills, thus the phrase "he pulled out a plum," which comes from the Latin "plumbum," i.e., lead). It is upon this tale that the popular nursery rhyme "Little Jack Horner" is based (see "Images" section). This story is very likely a myth; what probably occurred was that, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the house was purchased in 1543 by Thomas Horner. Thomas bequeathed it to his nephew, Sir John Horner, who married Merial Malte, the heiress of John Malte, tailor to Henry VIII. Sir John and his son Thomas considerably enlarged the manor, leaving it a spacious house. Circa 1770-80 the north and central sections of the house were demolished to provide stone for the stable courtyard at Mells Park House. The remaining south wing was used during the late 18th and early 19th centuries as a dower house, a farmhouse, and, between 1850 1860, as a vocational school. In the early 20th century Sir John and Lady Horner returned to their ancestral home and restored it as their principal seat. The Horners were friends with Sir Edwin Lutyens, who provided designs for the gardens and the house's Music Room. Mells Manor is today a seat of the Asquith family.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The circa 1520 walled garden was partially redesigned circa 1900 by Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Lutyens.

  • Architect: Edwin Landseer Lutyens

    Date: Circa 1905-25
    Designed: Gardens (circa 1905), Loggia (circa 1910), and Music Room (circa 1925).

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    Architect: Gertrude Jekyll

    Date: Early 20th century
    Designed: Advised, together with Lutyens, on garden design.

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  • Title: Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol, The
    Author: Pevsner, Nikolaus
    Year Published: 1958
    Reference: pg. 226
    Publisher: London: Penguine Books
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade I

  • Current Seat / Home of: Asquith family

    Past Seat / Home of: Thomas Horner, 16th century; Sir John Horner, 17th century; Sir John Francis Fortescue Horner, until 1927.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

  • House Open to Public: No

    Historic Houses Member: No