Wednesday 12 June 2013

(48) Adlam of The Manor House, Chew Magna

In 1848, William Adlam FSA (1814-1903), the son of a Bristol currier, married Sophia Harford Parker (c.1827-1921), granddaughter of James Harford of Chew Magna, a member of the extended Bristol Quaker family.  They purchased the Manor House of Chew Magna, a house which had earlier belonged to Sophia's grandfather, in about 1856 and employed John Norton to largely rebuild it in the Gothic style in 1862-64.  The couple had no children and the house was sold after William’s death in 1901.  The Manor House was used as a convent school from 1940-2006, but thereafter restored and returned to domestic use.

The Manor House, Chew Magna, Somerset

Chew Magna Manor House: entrance front in 2011

The Manor House, Chew Magna: garden front in 2011.

In origin a house probably built for Richard Vickris between 1684 and 1689, but incorporating an earlier tower of c.1500, and perhaps the early 17th century staircase and overmantels with the dates 1615 and 1656 from the earlier building.  Most of what one now sees, however, is due to a rebuilding in the Gothic style by John Norton for William Adlam in 1862-64.  

Chew Magna Manor House: staircase hall

Adlam installed a collection of 16th and 17th century woodwork and overmantels, which it is believed came mainly from houses owned and demolished by the Merchant Venturers in Bristol at this time, although the collection includes some Continental work too.  In 1940 the house was taken over the by Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions as a convent school (formerly at Deal, Kent).  It remained in use as a school until 2006, and was reconverted to residential use with enabling development in the grounds in 2010-11.

Previous owners:  Sir Robert Vickris (d. 1684); to son, Richard Vickris (fl. 1699); to son, Thomas Bishop Vickris... sold 1758 to Richard Summers (c.1715-96); to daughter Ann, wife of James Harford (d. 1817); to fifth son, John Harford (1768-1851), who was bankrupted 1844; sold by auction 1844 to Joseph Davies; sold c.1856 to William Adlam (1814-1903), whose wife Sarah Harford (née Parker) (c.1827-1921) was a granddaughter of John Harford; sold before 1901 to Edward James Thatcher; to widow, who sold 1933 to Capt. G. Workman McNaughton (d. 1940); sold 1940 to Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions.

Adlam family of Chew Magna

Adlam, William (1814-1903), of The Manor House, Chew Magna.  Only son of John Adlam (1775-1858), currier of Bristol, and his wife Mary Ann, daughter of John Moore of Frenchay (Glos), born 28 September 1814.  He married, 3 May 1848, Sophia Harford (c.1824-1921), daughter and heir of Philip Parker of Chew Magna and granddaughter of James Harford of Chew Magna Manor House, but died without issue.
In c.1856 he purchased his wife's family seat, The Manor House at Chew Magna, and largely rebuilt it in 1862-64.  Sometime before 1901 they 'retired' to 8 Larkstone Road, Ilfracombe (Devon), and sold the house at Chew Magna.
He died in April-June 1903, but no will has been found for him.  His widow died 29 August 1921, and her will was proved 3 March 1922 (estate £22,287).


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1914; M. Girouard, The Victorian country house, 2nd edn., 1979, p. 440; P. Olson, ‘Historical report on Chew Magna Manor House and estate’, 2001; A. Foyle & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Somerset – North and Bristol, 2nd edn., 2012, p. 447.

Where are their papers?

Adlam family of Chew Magna: no significant archive is known to survive.

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