Highworth Road, Shrivenham
Looking across the paddocks towards Sandhill Farm reveals an imposing Elizabethan style house. It’s very impressive and one wonders why it was chosen to be a farmhouse. The owner, Robert Gay, very kindly allowed members of the Shrivenham Heritage Society to have a closer look.
Once in the farmyard, it’s clear that there has been several phases of building and the elegant, Elizabethan style house, covers up the more farm style building behind.
The Department of the Environment, Listed Buildings in the Vale of the White Horse, suggest that the rear, red stone building is an 18th century rebuilding of an earlier house. This is probably a fair assessment, especially when looking more closely to the mixture of material to the rear on the north side.
It is known by documentary evidence that the farm was once part of the Barrington Estate at Beckett, which from 1793 to 1814 was put into a Trust by the Will of the late William Viscount Barrington. At the end of the Trust period the new Steward was George Merryweather, who arrived in April 1815. From a series of Letters written by Merryweather and transcribed by Shrivenham Heritage Society members, we have learned that this farm belonged to the Barrington Estate early in his tenure. A newspaper advertisement of 1799 shows that this freehold farm was being offered for sale. Although we have no documentary evidence to confirm it, the probablity is high that it was purchased by Trustees of the Beckett Estate. George Merryweather issued a 'Notice to Quit ' to tenant Moses Ackerman in 1816 on account of his bad farming practices and thuggish behaviour. However, it took a High Court action to remove him in March 1818.
By 1844, the Tithe Map for Shrivenham shows us that the farm was occupied by Joseph Hewer. The listing reads, House, Homestead, Orchard, Garden and all the field names associated. The drawing of the buildings on the Tithe Map is accurate and it shows that the Elizabethan style house was present. This relates well to when the house was built, as on the front of it is a plaque bearing the date of 1841. But the style of the plaque creates another mystery. It bears a coronet over the initials ‘EB’ and the date of 1841 below. This plaque is closely similar to the one on the front of Shrivenham House in the village, the only difference being that it bears the date 1834. We know by documentary evidence that Elizabeth Barrington paid for the rebuilding of the west end of Shrivenham House before she moved in, and the plaque marks that fact. Also there are striking similarities between the two properties. So can we assume that she was also responsible for the house at Sandhill ?
Sandhill Farm is another jewel in the parish of Shrivenham. Robert Gay has been there for over 40 years and keeps the property in good condition. We are grateful to him for allowing us to visit.
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We are always on the look-out for more information about Shrivenham and district. If you have old photos, know of historical facts, old documents (especially deeds) please contact us...
If you would like to view any item please visit the centre on Tuesdays & Thursdays between 10 am - 12 noon. We can also open outside of these hours with prior arrangement.