DiCamillo Companion

Salisbury Hall (Manor of Shenleybury)

  • Earlier Houses: An earlier Norman house on the site was replaced circa 1507 by Sir John Cutte; this house was, in turn, replaced by the current late 17th century house.

    House & Family History: After the Norman Conquest the Manor of Shenleybury (today's Salisbury Hall) came into the ownership of the De Mandeville family. In 1380 the House passed by marriage to Sir John Montague, later earl of Salisbury. It's likely that the House acquired its current name during Lord Salisbury's ownership. About 1420 Alice, Countess of Salisbury, married Sir Richard Neville, who became earl of Warwick. He had two sons: Richard Neville (better known as "Warwick the Kingmaker") and John, Marquis of Montagu, both of whom were killed at the Battle of Barnet in April of 1471. A new house on the site was built circa 1507 by Sir John Cutte, treasurer to King Henry VII and Henry VIII. In 1668 Salisbury Hall was purchased by James Hoare, a member of the famous London banking family; it was during this time that the early 16th century house was demolished and the current house erected. Charles II's famous mistress, Nell Gwynne, lived in a cottage by the bridge to the House; her ghost is said to haunt Salisbury Hall to this very day. Later the ownership of the Salisbury Estate passed to John Snell, and from then through a variety of owners, ending up as the home of a number of West Country farming families. In 1905 Winston Churchill's mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, came to live at Salisbury as Mrs. Cornwallis-West. Not surprisingly, Winston was a frequent visitor to Salisbury Hall during the early 20th century. Sir Nigel Gresley, of the London and North Eastern Railway, lived at Salisbury in the 1930s. It was Sir Nigel who was responsible for the A4 Pacific Steam Locomotives, one of which, Mallard, holds the world speed record for steam locomotives. Legend has it that the name for the locomotive came from the ducks in the moat of Salisbury Hall. In September 1939 the De Havilland Aircraft Company setup the Mosquito design team in the House; the prototype Mosquito, the E0234/W4050, was ultimately built in adjacent buildings. Nell Gwynne's cottage became a silk worm farm and supplied the silk for Elizabeth II's wedding dress and coronation robes. The De Havilland company left Salisbury in 1947, after which the House was abandoned and became derelict. In 1955 Salisbury Hall was saved by Major Walter Goldsmith, an ex Royal Marine, who restored the House and opened it up to the public as the Mosquito Aircraft Museum. Walter Goldsmith sold the House in 1981; the new owners converted the House back to a single-family home with a meticulous restoration. (The Mosquito Aircraft Museum, today part of the De Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre, is located directly next to Salisbury Hall. Further information about the Museum may be accessed on their website: www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk).

  • Country Life: CXXVI, 596, 708, 1959.

  • Title: Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932, The
    Author: Manchester, William
    Year Published: 1983
    Reference: pg. 395
    Publisher: Boston: Little, Brown and Company
    ISBN: 0316058130
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade II*

    Park Listed: Not Listed

  • Past Seat / Home of: de Mandeville family, 11th century. John Montagu, 3rd Earl of Salisbury and 5th and 2nd Baron Montagu, 14th century. Sir John Cutte, early 16th century. James Hoare, late 17th cenutry. John Snell. Cornwallis-West family. Sir Nigel Gresley, 1930s. Major Walter Goldsmith, 1955-81.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

  • House Open to Public: No

    Historic Houses Member: No