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Purley Hall
Purley, Berkshire


Purley Hall is the manor house of La Hyde, one of three manors in Purley. It is not completely within the parish: the boundaries of Purley, Sulham and Pangbourne apparently meet in the Dining Room! The place was originally called Hyde Hall after the Hyde family, from South Denchworth, who built it in 1609. There is an old story, often repeated amongst the villagers, that Anne, wife of James, Duke of York (later James II) and mother of both Queen Mary (II) and Queen Anne, was brought up at Purley, she being the daughter, by his second marriage, of Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon. The proof is shown by the fact that the Earl's first wife, Anne, has a memorial tablet in Purley Church. However, Edward Hyde came from Purton in Wiltshire and his arms are not those of Hyde of South Denchworth, for his family descend from the Hydes of Northbery in Cheshire! His poor wife was apparently taken ill with small pox, at Reading, while travelling from London to Wiltshire and was removed to her uncle's manor house of Purley Magna, next to the church. Here, by pure coincidence, she died.

Purley Hall appears to have undergone substantial alterations in 1719 when a third storey is said to have been removed because the weight was too much for the walls to bear. This was just prior to the sale of the house to the Hawes family. The Hawes' arms can be seen on Dining Room ceiling and in the heraldic glass of the Drawing Room. Unfortunately they became embroiled, with a cousin, in the South Sea Bubble Crisis but, though they lost the Hall, they were able to maintain residence through a creditor's agreement. Being short of cash, however, they did rent the Hall out, for many years, to Warren Hastings, the disgraced Governor of India, while he awaited his trial. His unhappy time here was enlightened by the Indian menagerie that he kept about him! His ghost is still said to haunt the house. In 1773, the hall was purchased by the Wilders of Sulham who lived there throughout the 19th century.

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