DiCamillo Companion

Wilsford House (Wilsford Manor)

  • Earlier Houses: In March and April of 1904 an old farmhouse on the site was demolished to make way for the current house (stone from the farmhouse was incorporated into the new house).

    Built / Designed For: Sir Edward Priaulx Tennant

    House & Family History: The foundation stone of Wilsford was laid on May 16, 1904 by The Hon. Mrs. Percy Wyndham, Sir Edward Tennant's mother-in-law (Mrs. Wyndham built the famous nearby Clouds in the 1880s). Built of gray Tisbury stone and knapped flints in the style of early 17th century Wiltshire houses, Wilsford is one of Detmar Blow's few surviving relatively unaltered works. The architect, who was related to his client, modeled Wilsford on Lake House, a nearby house he had renovated in 1898. The Nursery Wing of Wilsford was thatched and low-built in the style of a cottage. The Tennant family made their fortune in Scotland in 1799 when Charles Tennant invented and patented powdered bleach, which was used in the Scottish cotton and linen industry. The family's Bleaching Salt Works at St. Rollox (north of Glasgow) became Europe's largest chemical empire in the 19th century. Wilsford is particularly known today as the home of The Hon. Stephen Tennant ("...dear, strange, beautiful, gifted Stephen." -Vita Sackville-West), poet, painter, and aesthete, who was one of the Bright Young Things of the 1920s. It was at Wilsford that Tennant hosted, among others, his friends Virginia Woolf, Nancy Mitford, Edith Sitwell, Siegfried Sassoon (one of Stephen Tennant's lovers), Rex Whistler, and E.M. Forster. During World War II the house was occupied by the Red Cross. In 2024 Wilsford House, together with 54 acres, was listed for sale for £13 million.

    Collections: Some of the famous Tennant Collection of paintings were housed at Wilsford. The majority of the collection (the first private collection to be open to the public) was located in a annex at the Tennants' London townhouse at 34 Queen Anne's Gate. The contents of Wilsford were sold (after Stephen Tennant's death) at auction by Sotheby's on October 13 and 14, 1987.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: In the early 20th century, when the grounds stretched as far as Stonehenge, 16 gardeners were employed at Wilsford.

  • Architect: Detmar Jellings Blow

    Date: 1904-06
    Designed: House for Sir Edward Tennant, later Lord Glenconner.

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  • Title: Sotheby's Auction Catalog: The Contents of Wilsford Manor, Wiltshire, Oct 14 & 15, 1987
    Author: NA
    Year Published: 1987
    Reference: pg. 5
    Publisher: London: Sotheby's
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Serious Pleasures: The Life of Stephen Tennant
    Author: Hoare, Philip
    Year Published: 1990
    Reference: pgs. 4-5, 406-407
    Publisher: London: Hamish Hamilton
    ISBN: 0241124166
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade II*

    Park Listed: Not Listed

  • Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Sir Edward Priaulx Tennant, 1st Baron Glenconner, until 1920; The Hon. Stephen Tennant, until 1987. Mr. Darcy, 1987-?

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

  • House Open to Public: No

    Historic Houses Member: No


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