Athelhampton Hall

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are major building remains

NameAthelhampton Hall
Alternative NamesAdlampston
Historic CountryDorset
Modern AuthorityDorset
1974 AuthorityDorset
Civil ParishAthelhampton

A country house begun in 1493 by Sir William Martyn and continued by his heirs in the 16th century. In the 17th century the service-range was remodelled and heightened, masking a window in the south-east gable of the hall. In 1891 the house was bought by AC de la Fontaine and was carefully restored with the south-east range being remodelled and extended. The solar was reconstructed in the 1920s and further restoration has been carried out since 1957. The house was partly damaged by fire in 1992. The ashlar-faced external walls are mainly limestone and greensand with Ham Hill stone for the dressings. The roofs are of clay tiles with larger stone slates at the eaves courses and stone gable copings with heraldic finials. (PastScape)

Athelhampton Hall (770942) stands beside the R. Piddle ½ m. E. of Puddletown. The main part of the house has two principal storeys with attics, except the Great Hall which is open from floor to roof. The ashlar-faced external walls are mainly of limestone and Greensand, with Ham Hill stone for many of the dressings. The roofs have large stone-slates in the lower courses and tiles above. The house was started in the reign of Henry VII by Sir William Martyn, Lord Mayor of London in 1493, and was continued by his heirs throughout the 16th century. Sir William built the Great Hall with its oriel window, and the Service Range which extends N.E. from the S.E. end of the Hall. A solar at the N.W. end of the Hall, shown on Buckler's plan of 1828 (BM. Add. MS. 36361, f. 128) but subsequently pulled down, was probably original; the present solar is a modern reproduction. Robert Martyn (d. 1550) built the West Wing, which runs W. from the N.W. end of the Hall, forming the N. side of a forecourt in front of the house. This forecourt was originally bounded to the W. by a Gate House which, with connecting walls, completed the enclosure

The gate house and the connecting walls were pulled down in 1862 but many architectural fragments are preserved. The complete gatehouse is known from Buckler's plan, from a sketch by Benjamin Ferrey dated 1834 (Plate 93), from Nash's engraving ( Mansions in the Olden Time, 1839–, III, pl. ix) and also from J. Pouncy, Dorset Illustrated, c. 1857. That the gate house was the work of Robert Martyn is proved by the arms of Martyn quartering Kelway in a stone cartouche, formerly above the gateway and now preserved in the house. Robert married Elizabeth Kelway and their daughter Katherine married Edward Knoyle of Sandford Orcas; it is curious to note that lozenge panels on the gables of the W. wing at Athelhampton are closely paralleled at Sandford Orcas ( Dorset I, 196). Robert Martyn's wing is entered through an original doorway in the 15th-century oriel window of the Hall, proving that at least part of the wing replaces some earlier building contemporary with the Hall; possibly it was a W. extension of the solar. In the 17th century, the 15th-century service range was remodelled and heightened, masking a window in the S.E. gable of the Hall. The present Kitchen Wing was probably built in the later 16th century. Late in the 19th century, ranges of buildings of uncertain date which had formed the N.W. and N.E. sides of the court to the N.E. of the Hall were demolished. In 1891 the house was bought by A. C. de Lafontaine and carefully restored. The S.E. range, incorporating the original service rooms, was remodelled and extended. Later, the solar was reconstructed, together with a stair leading to it from an original archway in the N.W. side of the Hall; at the same time a new range was built on the N.E. side of the inner court. (RCHME)

Gatehouse Comments

Although a licence to "to enclose and fortify ... with walls of stone and lime, and to build towers within the said manor and crenellate the same." was issued to Sir William Martyn in 1495 it is clear this was symbolic and little attempt was made to fortify the new house. Substantial remains exist of the house, although the gatehouse (of 1550) has been demolished. The pale of the medieval deer park of the house survives in part.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSY770942
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Copyright Frazer Porter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Frazer Porter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Frazer Porter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Frazer Porter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Frazer Porter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Frazer Porter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Frazer Porter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Frazer Porter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Frazer Porter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Frazer Porter All Rights Reserved
Copyright Frazer Porter All Rights Reserved

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  • Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 3 Southern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 487-90, 696
  • Cooper, Nicholas, 1999, Houses of the Gentry, 1480-1680 (Yale University Press) p. 198, 264, 276, 308
  • Pevsner, N. and Newman J., 1972, Buildings of England: Dorset (London) p. 80-83
  • RCHME, 1970, An inventory of historical monuments in the County of Dorset Vol. 3: central p. 9-13 no. 2 online transcription
  • Oswald, A., 1959, Country Houses of Dorset p. 65-8
  • Nash, J., 1871 (rev edn), The mansions of England in the olden time Vol. 3 (London: Henry Sotheran and Co) plate LXII online copy
  • Pouncy, J., 1857, Dorsetshire photographically illustrated (London: Bland & Long) Vol. 1 online copy


  • Aslet, C., 1984 May, Country Life Vol. 175

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1916, Calendar of Patent Rolls Henry VII (1494-1509) Vol. 2 p. 43 online copy