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History of Stanway House, north-east of Winchcombe, Glos
By Michael Ford
A Superb Elizabethan House and Related Manorial Buildings

Stanway House

The ancient manor of Stanway in the Cotswolds was presented to Tewkesbury Abbey in the year 715 by two Mercian leaders Odo and Dodo. It was the first and only remote property owned by the Abbey until the 12th century when land was acquired in Dorset. Stanway supported four monks.

In 1533 Richard Tracy, the younger son of Sir William Tracy of Toddington obtained the lease of the manor from Abbot Segar. Richard is known to have led the commission that dissolved Hailes Abbey and it was around this time that he was able to purchase the freehold to Stanway. It was his son Paul who rebuilt the house incorporating some of the early Tudor house in it. This work started in about 1580. Paul Tracy was created Baronet in 1611 and died in 1620. His son, Sir Richard Tracy, continued building and it was he who had the magnificent gatehouse erected in 1630. He died however in 1637. The house was completed around 1640 by Sir Paul’s grandson Sir Humphrey Tracy. Sir Humphrey supported the King during the Civil War and for this he had to pay heavily in compensation to stop his property being confiscated. He died in 1651 without issue so the title and property was inherited by his brother Richard who also died without issue in 1666 with everything passing to the younger brother John. When Sir John died in 1677 the Stanway line came to an end and the property passed to Ferdinando Tracy the second son John 3rd Viscount Tracy of Toddington.

The Tracy line continued at Stanway until 1817 when it was inherited by Francis Charteris the 8th Earl of Wemyss and 4th Earl of March the son of Francis Charteris and his wife Susan (nee Tracy-Keck) who was the great granddaughter of Ferdinando Tracy. The present resident is Lord Neidpath a direct descendant of Francis Charteris. Thus the property remained in the same family for over 450 years.

The house is built of soft mellow yellow stone under a stone roof. The gabled west front is the Elizabethan and oldest part of the house and includes the hall. The great hall is extraordinarily light and airy having an enormous full height bay window and further bays at the south end. Manorial courts were held here up until about 1800 and the raised dais at one end is still in place. The south front is from the Stuart period and contains all the principal rooms. A short flight of stairs leads from the hall into the drawing room in which are a pair of unique ‘Chinese Chippendale’ day beds from about 1760 which came from the Wemyss seat at Amisfield House in East Lothian, Scotland. Further along is the ‘Elcho’ Lobby followed by ascending stairs to the library passage from which an oak staircase leads to the upper storey. Off the passage is the old library, which has only one window and is the warmest room in the house in the winter. At the end of the passage is the ‘Elcho’ sitting room, very comfortable and lived in. The other wings have been demolished leaving the house with an ‘L’ plan.

In the garden, up the hill to the rear is a canal above that is a pyramid built by Robert Tracy in 1750 honouring his father John Tracy who died in 1735. A cascade, which has been restored over the last few years, runs from here to the canal where a 70ft fountain spouts into the air.

The gatehouse is a gem, one of the best pieces of architecture in the Cotswolds. It was built for Sir Richard Tracy in 1630. It is unusually positioned at right angles to the house, presumably because the church was in the way in front of the house. The lodges, either side of the gateway, have narrow bay widows and the whole is topped by shaped gables crowned with Tracy scallop shells. The archway has fluted columns either side. It is a very attractive building.

The tithe barn is medieval built around 1370 for Tewkesbury Abbey. It has a stone roof supported by massive base cruck timbers. Apart from the main entrances it has a small 13th century stone doorway. It is a fine building and is now used for events and as a theatre.

The church of St. Peter is basically 12th century but was drastically over-restored by the Victorians.

This group of buildings make a superb sight in their idyllic setting.

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