The manor of Lackham

on Friday, 08 May 2015. 1 Posted in Lackham

The estate of Lackham is situated adjacent to the Lacock estate, on the bank of the river Avon.

At the time of Domesday the manor was held by William d'Eu, the son of the Count d'Eu. He vanished from records towards the end of the 11th century when it appears he rebelled for a second time.

1764 map close up of Lackham House

The Bluet family then took control of Lackham and held it for 200 years until the 14th century, when the only surviving Bluet, Eleanor, married into the Baynard family. Lackham passed to the Baynards.

Edmund Baynard, the husband of Eleanor, purchased a grant from Edward III to hunt in the Royal Forest of Pewsham.

The Baynards had their own aisle in Lacock church, and many of them were buried there. There is also a memorial brass to the Baynards in the church, one of the few to be found in Wiltshire, which commemorates Robert Baynard who died in 1501, his wife Elizabeth and their 18 children. One of their grandchildren was the last abbess at Lacock Abbey.

Baynard brass in Lacock church


In the sixteenth century, Lackham was visited by royalty, apparently by Henry VIII when he was paying his respects to Lady Jane Seymour of Wolfhall near Marlborough.

In 1635 the only surviving Baynard, Mary, married Captain the Honourable James Montagu. Her father died just six months later so it can be assumed that by marrying his daughter off at the age of just 14 there was some urgency to continue the line. The Montagu family built the current Lackham House, in a different place to the earlier property.

The earliest sketch of Lackham House is from 1684, and shows the house lying at right angles to the present day house. The new house was built between 1793 and 1795: it doesn't appear on a 1793 map but does on a 1795 one. It appears much of the old house was used to build the new one, and some formed the foundations of the walled garden.

The last Montagu to control Lackham was George Montagu; however, he was not allowed to inherit it because he had left his wife to live with his mistress, so when his brother James died without issue the estate did not pass to him. It is believed he was responsible for the Montagus losing Lackham: he and his son George Courtney Conway Montagu were involved in expensive court cases, ironically over the inheritance of the estate, and eventually the estate was sold to pay off the debts.

Lackham was then occupied by Lt Col Tufnell of the Middlesex Militia. He did not own the estate but was a tenant of the trustees between about 1817 and 1823. It was then rented by Captain William Rooke but the trustees were keen to sell the estate. Eventually, he bought it himself in 1835. It was a much smaller estate than it had been because much of the land had been sold off to pay other debts in the past.

Captain Rooke extended the house, adding a third floor and some other features. He lived there until his death in 1855, when the estate was put up for sale again. It was finally sold in 1858, for £40,000, to Henry Berney Caldwell. It was then sold again in 1866 to Mary Stapleton-Bretherton, a rich Roman Catholic woman, widowed twice, who purchased Lackham for £46,000. She owned other property than Lackham, and it is thought she didn't live there much, but she clearly cared about the area as she left £3,000 in her will to fund a Roman Catholic priest in Chippenham.

After Mary's death, the estate was run by one of her trustees, George Errington, who didn't live at Lackham all the time: the estate was fairly empty at this point. In 1893, Brigadier General George Llewellyn Palmer bought Lackham for £17,652. He leased the estate for a few years to a Mrs Taylor, before making several alterations to the house and then moving into it in 1900. He almost completely remodelled the house inside, and also added the outside terraces and changed the porch. The exterior alterations can be seen on postcards of the time.  

It is probable that for many years Llewellyn Palmer did not live at Lackham, and in 1919 the estate was sold again, this time to William Tatem, Lord Glanely. He bought the estate, which was three times the size it had been in 1893, for £62,000. He sold Lackham to Major Holt in 1927, who then sold off the outlying portions of the estate.

During 1943 and 1944, Lackham was the headquarters for the 10th Armoured Infantry Battalion of the 4th Armoured Division of the 3rd United States Army, commanded by General George S Patton. The house suffered some damage during the war, particularly on the garden wall and possibly the original entrance pillars by the Front Lodge.

In 1945, the house was de-requisitioned by the War Ministry and sold to Wiltshire County Council, who purchased it from Major Holt for £42,000. It became Lackham College, independent from the council, in 1993, and still runs as an agricultural college, now part of Wiltshire College which merges Lackham, Chippenham and Trowbridge Colleges, and later Salisbury.

Ally McConnell, archivist, Lacock Unlocked

[My sincere thanks go to Tony Pratt, whose article on Lackham forms the basis for this shorter history of the Lackham estate]