Wessex Attractions: Shute Barton

Shute Barton is a late-medieval manor house near Axminster, owned by the National Trust and now converted into a 5-bedroom luxury holiday home, accommodating up to 10 guests. It features a 15-foot high window, allowing you to survey the grounds from within, and one of the largest fireplaces in England.

The oldest parts of the house date back to 1380, and it was then owned by Sir William Bonville, Sheriff of Somerset, Dorset and Devon. Most of the surviving building is of a much later date, however. The whole manor was sensitively renovated in 1955.

Bonville's great-granddaughter Cecily married Thomas Grey, later the 1st Marquess of Dorset, and as she was the sole living descendant of the Bonville line, the house passed to his family, later being inherited by Lady Jane Grey. Upon her execution, Queen Mary awarded it to her Secretary of State, Sir William Petrie, who later sold it to a lawyer named William Pole for £300 (£156,900.61 in today's money, according to the Bank of England inflation calculator). Her ghost is still said to haunt the grounds, although others say the ghost is that of a female member of the royalist Pole family, who was ambushed while out walking by a parliamentarian lynch mob during the civil war.

In 1959, the Pole family donated Shute Barton to the National Trust, though they retain the right to live there. The estate is opened to visitors four times a year, and is a popular venue for wedding receptions and other special events. If you are interested in booking it for a minimum of three nights, click here.

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