Thursday, February 07, 2013

Downe Court Manor and Downe Hall

Downe Court Manor Statutory Listed – Grade 11

There is an early deed referring to Downe Court Manor dated 1287.  The present building dates from around 1690. Years ago it was surrounded by ponds which tend to suggest the original manor house could have been moated.  Sir Thomas Mervyn owned the house in 1518 and was Lord Mayor of London. When he died he left one penny to each prisoner in the London gaols. One time owner was Sir Thomas Smyth who was governor of the East India Company and Treasurer of the Virginia Company.

Another owner was Henry Manning Marshal of the Household under Henry V111 and Queen Elizabeth is believed to have attended the christening of his daughter Margaret in 1559.  Parish Register records the ceremony took place ‘after ye Queene’s visitation’.

Then came Jacob Verzillini an Italian from Murano, near Venice who took over a glass-making factory in Crutched Friars in London around 1571.  He was granted a 21-year licence to make drinking glasses providing he taught his skills to Englishmen and did not import the glasses.

He was very successful and bought quite a lot of property in the area. There may be as many as nine of his glasses remaining.  V and A has one so does the British Museum. Windsor Castle and another at Cambridge and several are abroad.  One was dropped at auction.  When he died he bequeathed ‘cloth to 6d a yard for a new coat for all villagers to attend my funeral’.

Downe Hall –Locally Listed

There has been a building on this site since 1290.  Originally named after Richard Godarde the building was named ‘Goddards’. Sold to the Manning family in the 14th century.  It was originally of flint and stone and some windows were made of horn.  The Mannings were the oldest and most distinguished family in Downe. Some were among the first to emigrate to America where even today there is the Manning Association.

According to the Hearth Tax in 1645 there were 8 taxable hearths.  The largest number in the village.  After the Carew family came the Sandys, the last of whom died in 1694, and in 1698 Sandys widow married the Earl of Eglintoun – she was 96 at the time.

In 1820 the house burned down and the present building erected.  One time owned by the Lubbock family it has been considerably restored in recent years.

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