DiCamillo Companion

Westcombe House

  • Earlier Houses: There may have been a mill on, or near, the site of Westcombe House.

    Built / Designed For: Thomas Whitehead

    House & Family History: Westcombe House was built for the Bristol merchant Thomas Whitehead in the late 18th century as a plain L-plan house with principal elevations that faced south and east (the latter, with a Tuscan-columned porch, served as the entrance facade). The Ernst family purchased the estate in 1817 and it remained in their possession until the death of Henry Ernst in 1896, when Westcombe passed to his married daughters, the elder of whom (Bessie May Sword), ran the house as a hotel and country club until 1935. Westcombe House was demolished in 1956, though its porch was re-erected on Clark’s Folly, a large house nearby. (We are most grateful to Michael Hill, who contributed all of the history of this house and its outbuildings and grounds).

  • Garden & Outbuildings: In the late 18th century there was a pleasure garden on the estate, complete with a grotto and a even plunge bath! In 1784, to the north of the house, Thomas Whitehead added a coach house with oval hayloft windows and Gothick fenestration. In the early 1970s the architect Harry Graham converted the coach house into a private home for himself and his wife, the architectural historian Hermione Hobhouse.

  • House Listed: Demolished

    Park Listed: Not Listed

  • Past Seat / Home of: Thomas Whitehead, circa 1780-98. George Chalmer, early 19th century. Thomas Henry Ernst, 1817-55; Henry Ernst, 1855-96. Bessie May and Henry Cambronne Dennistoun Sword, until 1955-56.

    Current Ownership Type: Demolished

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Demolished

  • House Open to Public: No

    Historic Houses Member: No