DiCamillo Companion

Ramsbury Manor

  • Earlier Houses: The current house sits on the site of a house of the earl of Pembroke of circa 1560, which itself replaced a palace of the bishops of Salisbury.

    Built / Designed For: Sir William Jones

    House & Family History: Ramsbury Manor is a brick house with stone dressings built for Sir William Jones, attorney general to Charles II. In 1800 Ramsbury passed to the Burdett family, who were seated here until 1951, when Sir Francis Burdett died. During the 19th century the House was the seat of Angela Burdett-Coutts (1814–1906), the richest woman in England. In the 1930s Queen Mary visited Mrs. Pleydell Bouverie (who was probably leasing the House from the Burdetts) at Ramsbury. In the mid-20th century Ramsbury was sold to Lord Wilton, who, in 1958, sold it to baron Rootes. In 1964 it was purchased, together with 460 acres, by Harry Hyams for £650,000 in what was then a record price for a private house (the 1966 edition of "The Guinness Book of Records" called Ramsbury "the most expensive house in Britain"). In 1950 the last of the Great Western Railway's Manor Class steam locomotives to be built was named Ramsbury Manor (it was removed from service in December 1965). It has been reported frequently in the press that Mr. Hyams intends to leave the House and its art collection to the nation when he and his wife Kay are dead (they have no children).

    Collections: The collection at Ramsbury includes works by Turner, Gainsborough, Goya, Titian, Rubens, Picasso, and Rembrandt, and is considered one of greatest private art collections in Britain, possibly second only to the Royal Collection. On February 1, 2006, thieves from the infamous Johnson Gang raided Ramsbury Manor and made away with approximately 300 museum-grade artifacts worth an estimated £80 million in what is believed to be the largest property theft in British history. On March 25, 2008, approximately 30% of the stolen property, about 140 items, was discovered in an underground bunker built on wasteland at Black Hill, near Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. The gang was later caught and convicted and in August 2008 received long prison sentences.

    Comments: Described by Pevsner as "A perfect example of the moderate-sized brick mansion of about 1680."

  • Architect: Robert Hooke

    Date: Circa 1681-86
    Designed: House for Sir William Jones. Colvin states Hooke was almost certainly the architect of the House.
    (Attribution of this work is uncertain)
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  • John Preston (J.P.) Neale, published under the title of Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. V, 1822.

    Country Life: XXII, 198, 1907. XLVIII, 432, 468, 1920. CXXX, 1376, 1526, 1580, 1961.

  • Title: Queen Mary and Others
    Author: Sitwell, Osbert
    Year Published: 1975
    Reference: pg. 31
    Publisher: New York: The John Day Company
    ISBN: 0381982793
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pg. 510
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: English Manor House From the Archives of Country Life, The
    Author: Musson, Jeremy
    Year Published: 1999
    Reference: pg. 47
    Publisher: London: Aurum Press
    ISBN: 1854106198
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Country Life: 100 Favourite Houses
    Author: Green, Candida Lycett
    Year Published: 1999
    Publisher: London: Boxtree
    ISBN: 0752213334
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II

  • Current Seat / Home of: Harry Hyams; here since 1964.

    Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSES: Bishop of Salisbury. William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, 16th century. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Sir William Jones, late 17th century. Sir Francis Burdett, 19th century; Angela Burdett-Coutts, 19th century; Burdett family (Burdett-Coutts family) here 1800-1951. Mrs. Pleydell Bouverie, 20th century. Seymour William Arthur John Egerton, 7th Earl of Wilton, 20th century. William Edward Rootes, 1st Baron Rootes, 20th century.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

  • House Open to Public: No

    Historic Houses Member: No