In 1575 the Bayntun family sold part of the Manor of Rowden, including 'The Ivy' House, to Edward Hungerford, but they retained the part that gave the family manoral rights of Rowden well into the 19th century.

Once the home of Sir Edward Bayntun (1517-1593) for 20 years, but his descendants were Lord of the Manor of Rowden for over 300 years

Rowden lies on what was formerly a down (the old name was Roughdon, probably meaning rough down) and is traversed by the road to Bath. We see the spelling as Rowdon in medieval documents and manoral deeds. But an old mansion, quite possibly the 'The Ivy' House (pictured above) itself dates from 1190 and was mentioned in a document, about this year, when King Richard I charged Rowden with £7 10s a year to Hodierna Nutrix (Hodierna the Nurse). It is not known who Hodierna was, or where she came from, but she was rewarded for her services with part of the rents of the king's estate at Rowden. It is thought she attended him in some way in his younger years and this was possibly his way of looking after her in her later years.

When Hodierna ceased to require the pension the estate was granted (subject to the rent of £7 10s) by King Henry III in 1250 to the Lady Agnes, the widow of Sir Godfrey St. Maur. When Godfrey had to obscond in 1274, on a charge of felony and rebellion, Rowden was forfeited, but it was afterwards restored to her son. This Nicholas St. Maur sold it to Nicholas Husee some time around 1247 and this Lord of Rowden – and his descendants held it for 142 years until 1392.

When the king granted Rowden he granted a pension of £5 a year out of the £7 10s rent to the Monastery of Ederose or Ivy-Church, near Clarendon and this identical pension of £5 appears to be paid out of the lands at Chippenham and Rowden, formerly belonging to Nicholas Husee. The name itself seems to indicate that it must have been what is called "the Ivy-house and the islands in the Ivy", close to Chippenham bridge. We can safely assume that this connection to the Ivy-church may perhaps suggest a satisfactory explanation why the house was so called "The Ivy" House.

This house became the capital house of Rowden and remained so until the Cromwellian Revolution. It was situated at the centre of the old Manor of Rowden. The house was known as "The Ivy" House or Rowden Farm but never known as Rowden Manor House.

In the year 1392, the Husees sold Rowden to Sir John Erleigh, of Beckington in Somerset. His only daughter, Margaret, married Sir Walter Sands and in the year 1434, they sold Rowden to Walter Lord Hungerford. From that date onward some of the Hungerford family resided at "The Ivy" House.

In January 1469, Sir Thomas Hungerford, the great-grandson of the above Walter was beheaded at Salisbury for an attempt to restore King Henry VI. He is described on the indictment as Sir Thomas Hungerford of Rowden.

Some years later it was in the hands of the Southwell family and in 1532 it was first leased to Sir Edward Bayntun (1480 - 1544) and on 16th June 1544 it was sold by Sir Robert Southwell to Sir Edward. But five months later Sir Edward died in France while attending his Royal Master - King Henry VIII.

In his will, the property was left to his second eldest son - also known as Sir Edward Bayntun (1517 - 1593). Sir Edward and his family lived there for a period of 20 years, until his brother, Sir Andrew Bayntun, died on 21st February 1664, without male heir and he inherited the Manor of Bromham and subsequently moved into Bromham House.

In 1575 he sold part of the Manor of Rowden, including The Ivy to Edward Hungerford, of Farleigh Castle, but he retained the part that gave manoral rights of which the Bayntun family were still Lords of the Manor of Rowden well into the 19th century with a farm fee recorded in 1868, showing Matthew Humphreys paying 6s - 8d to the Bayntun family at the time.

During the Civil War of Charles I, it belonged to another Sir Edward Hungerford – a descendant of the above – a Parliamentary Officer who at one stage used this house as a garrison. It was immediately surrounded by the Royalist troops who eventually dismantled the house, which was a large one with a quadrangle inside and a moat around it.

In the years that followed, this battered house, was again restored to some of its former glory and when Sir Edward died in 1648 it passed to a relative some years later. The new owner, of the same name, was more commonly known as Sir Edward Hungerford – The Spendthrift – a name given to him for his ability to squander and gamble away many manors in succession, including Farleigh Castle.

Henry Bayntun (1664 - 1691) was the purchaser of many of these manors, including Farleigh Castle, in what was known at the time as "The Great Sale". But he did not manage to acquire "The Ivy".

The story is that Hungerford lost this estate by gambling it, when he staked the property in a bowling match, calling out when he threw his last chance: "There goes Rowden". Whether this story is true or not, Rowden certainly went, but the legal way in which it disappeared from his rent-roll was that it was mortgaged for £3,000 to Sir Richard Kent, an MP for Chippenham.

By order of the Court of Chancery in 1698 Rowden was sold by Kent and the new owner was Mr. Thomas Long of Monkton, near Melksham and from him it descended to Walter Long of Rood Ashton, who is said to have sold it to the Norris family some years later.

In or about 1730 John Norris owned the house and remodelled it. Norris had purchased the house from John Scott, the heir to his father's estate. He had many connections with Bath and arranged for the golden Bath stone to be brought by barge, down the Avon, for this facelift. He resided here until his death in 1756 and his wife continued to live there until her death in 1758.

Shortly after her death her son, William Stone, who resided at Nonsuch, obtained a private Act of Parliament for the sale of the house and it was purchased by his tenant, John Stone.

A sketch of the house (left) taken some time around 1730, showing the extension to the right and beautiful gardens and (right) a photo taken in the last century.

But the house was again sold within a short time and William Northey made it his residence and imported some noble specimens of North American trees and planted them in the grounds. He continued to live there until his death in 1770.

It was then inherited by Northey's son who eventually sold it to Matthew Humphreys, a Chippenham Clothier, in 1791.

Humphreys died in 1810 but his son, Robert, resided there until his death in 1839 and his wife remained there until she died in 1868.

Around this time, the house was auctioned and was acquired by the Rooke family who made it their family residence until 1973.

The successive owners over the centuries laid out large sums of money on both the mansion itself and the grounds.

Sadly in the mid-1970's the house became derelict and was boarded up. It was targeted by vandals, used as a squat, set fire to and refurbished and then turned into a hostel.

The top photo of "The Ivy" was supplied by Geoff Hawkins.

Back to Main Index