Elizabethan & Jacobean Improprietor's House
Reputedly the oldest house in the Vale of Belvoir
The Old Manor House,
opposite the Parish Church, is a 440 year old mullioned stone house,
built by Sir Edward Hastings and his son Sir Henry as Improprietor of the Great Tithes of
Claxton. A description in The King's England as "homely and stately
among the trees," masked years of genteel neglect that had allowed
the house, which is listed Grade II* by English Heritage, both to
retain a huge amount of history but also to slip onto the "at risk"
register. During conservation over the last 20 years many interesting features have
been uncovered: wig cupboards, Elizabethan fireplaces, a long
gallery, 17th and 18th century signatures, even a love poem
scratched into the plaster work. The house also retains some of the
dairy fixtures from Victorian times when prize-winning Stilton cheese
was made here, and it remains a working farmhouse.
Research and restoration went hand in hand, and met with
general approval and the odd award. We lead tours of the house on periodic
open days and have hosted the Fellows of the Society for the Protection of
Ancient Buildings and several local history groups. Now, for the second time in history,
the house is the home of the resident priest or parson for the village.
The large orchard behind contains one of the manorial fish ponds, dug maybe between 1250 and 1300,
frequented by mallards, coots, moorhens, Greylag geese and swans,
all of which have nested here over recent years. Newts, frogs
and a shoal of goldfish can often be seen, when they are not hiding
from the local heron. Fortunate visitors might catch a glimpse of
a kingfisher. Gardens have been laid out in keeping with
the Jacobean style of the house. Cobble paths have been revealed,
York flagstone walkways laid, and traditional mud walls have been
rebuilt around the perimeter.
We've built a stone barn to replace the original knocked down in the 1980s. We've built a green oak, daub and thatched summerhouse.
Finally, for our intrepid visitors, we've refurbed the mud-walled back-to-back loos, Jakes and Privy, now CAMROT approved.