The house from "Morris's Views of Seats," circa 1875.
Earlier Houses: In the 13th century a church under the auspices of the abbess of Godstow was located on, or near, the site of the current house. Also possibly on the site was the medieval Hospital of St. Margaret and St. Giles. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries a private home, Loakes Manor, was created using parts of the ecclesiastical buildings; it is very likely that elements of these earlier buildings were incorporated into today's house.
House & Family History: The mostly 17th century Loakes Manor was rebuilt as the Gothic style Wycombe Abbey in the early 19th century by the 1st Baron Carrington. According to the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery at University College London, in 1837 the British government awarded the 1st Lord Carrington a payment of £4,908 (approximately £4 million in 2019 values using the labour value commodity index) in compensation for the 268 slaves that he owned in Jamaica that were freed as part of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. The British government took out a £15 million loan in the 1830s (approximately £12 billion in 2019 values) arranged by the Rothschild bank to finance the freeing of slaves owned by its citizens; the government paid off the last of the loan in 2015. The house and 30 acres were sold by the 3rd Baron Carrington in 1896 to Wycombe Abbey School. In 1942 the British government requisitioned Wycombe Abbey to serve as the headquarters of the 8th Bomber Command for the U.S. Army Air Force after the entry of the United States into World War II. It was returned to the school in May of 1946 and has remained a school ever since.
Garden & Outbuildings: The Loakes Manor Estate once spanned thousands of acres. Wycombe Abbey today sits in a much smaller estate that includes gardens, woodlands, and a Grade II*-listed decommissioned nuclear bunker that was once part of the Ministry of Defence's RAF Daws Hill (Daws Hill was part of the Wycombe Abbey Estate). The 23,000-square foot bunker housed high tech equipment for the direction of nuclear bombers and guided missiles and was an important part of American operations in Britain during the Cold War. Because of its nuclear weapons, especially cruise missiles, the site was frequently the site of protests; between 1982 and 1985 there was a also peace camp nearby. Military operations at the site closed in 2007 and, in 2011, most of the land was sold to a property developer, Taylor Wimpey Plc, who created a housing estate of approximately 450 homes called Pine Trees on the site.
Architect: Lancelot BrownDate: Probably 1760s
Architect: Henry KeeneDate: Circa 1755-59
Architect: Humphry ReptonDesigned: Landscaping
House Listed: Grade II*
Park Listed: Grade II
Past Seat / Home of: Thomas Archdale, until 1700. Henry Petty, 1st Earl of Shelburne (first creation), 1700-51; John Petty Fitzmaurice, 1st Earl of Shelburne (second creation), 1751-61; William Petty Fitzmaurice, 2nd Earl of Shelburne and 1st Marquess of Lansdowne, 1761-98. Robert Smith, 1st Baron Carrington, 1798-1838; Robert John Carrington, 2nd Baron Carrington, 1838-68; Charles Robert Wynn-Carington, 3rd Baron Carrington and 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire, 1868-96.
Current Ownership Type: School
Primary Current Ownership Use: School
Ownership Details: Since 1896 Wycombe Abbey School, an independent girls' boarding school.