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The perfect setting > Hotel Information > Hotel History
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Learn more about the Fleming family history
The overlordship of the estate belonged to the crown, but before the middle of the thirteenth century it had passed to the Bohuns, Earls of Hereford and Essex. By 1320, the Manor of Chilworth belonged to Anges Peveral, who had a major dispute about his boundaries with the Abbott of Hyde in North Stoneham. This dispute, in the days before surveyors recorded boundaries on maps; was solved by a legal process called a Perambulation. Four more generations of Peverals held the Manor, until in 1363, the estate was sold to Thomas Tyrell. He was of 'Essex' though there are many Tyrells in the history of Hampshire. The ownership of the Manor passed through many families - the Daccombe family held it for over a century, and the Dowses almost equalled that followed by the Hoopers and the Searles, but there is no record of the kind of house they lived in, or even who first built a dwelling for the Lord of the Manor. There is mention in old records of a moated thatched Farm-House which may well have been the original house - the moat can still be seen, just outside the boundary of the present estate. Presumably, the lack of recorded events means that life at Chilworth was private and comparatively peaceful.
In 1812, Peter Searle, something of a philanthropist, rebuilt the church at Chilworth, and in 1825 conveyed the estate to John Fleming, who belonged to a wealthy family who owned much land around, including the estate at North Stoneham.
When the Flemings rebuilt the house, which was completed in 1904, it seems that they were able to incorporate a small part of the Regency style building in the two window bays on the ground floor, but the rest of the house is an example of Victorian architecture at one of its more elegant periods. Fortunately the wine cellar, which appears to be Elizabethan has been retained.
The Manor House is described (in an article published in the Hampshire Chronicle in 1968) as 'almost square in plan, two main storeys high, and with a flat lead roof. It is built of those yellow bricks; which were produced in Chilworth's own brick kilns. Inside, the house is spacious and unfussy. The great hall is splendid; the walls panelled head-high and witha wide balcony running round at first floor level. The other principal rooms overlook the gardens - roughly a South-West aspect - and without exception, they are charming and well proportioned. Perhaps the best of them is the Library, a long narrow room terminating in a bay window; which occupies most of its end wall. The floor is inlaid with rectangular patterns in various coloured woods, finishing with a charming and most unusual pattern in the bay'. This floor, some of the mahogany doors and the elaborate light fittings; whcih can be seen in old photographs, came from North Stoneham House (Eventually pulled down in about 1939).
The gorunds of the house have interesting features: two 'Beehive' thatched cottages, once the lodges at the entrance; a 'Deer ring' which was used in connection with hunting, Cedar of Lebanon tree with a span of about 150 feet, and attractive terracing which gives some idea of the elegance of the gardens which contained many botanic treasures.
The Flemings sold the Chilworth estate in 1947 to Mr Young, a Southampton electrician, and it became a base for his firm, Unity Heating. The present Engineering workshops at the side of the Manor House was the factory he built. The University of Southampton acquired the Manor in the 1960's, and used it as a Hall of Residence, until 1990 when it was turned into a Residential Conference and Training Centre.
In 2001a management buy in by former senior executives of Andrew Wier Hotels, acquired the property from the University and traded the property as a hotel and conference venue adding leisure facilities in October 2001, theclub@chilworth-manor.
In July 2010 the hotel becam a member of the Best Western consortium and whilst remaing independent is now known as BEST WESTERN Chilworth Manor.
Further information and pictures of the estate as it was in 20th Century are available on the Chilworth Conservation website.
George Patrick Rushworth Jellicoe held the office of Chancellor at the University of Southampton from 1948 to 1996. After a distinguished career in the army where he gained the honours, DSO, MC, Legion d'Honneur, Croixe de Guerre and the Greek Military Cross, he began successful careers in Goverment and Industry. He is one of the longest serving parliamentarians in the world holding several offices including, First Secretary to the Foreign Office in Washington, Brussels and Baghdad, Minister of State for the Home Office, Minister of Defence for the Royal Navy, and Leader of the House of Lords. He died in 2007.
Major General, the Right Honourable John Edward Bernard Seely was the first Baron Mottistone. During his army career he won the honours CB, CMG and a DSO. He was the first President of the University College of Southampton and was Lord Lieutenant of the County of Southampton (Hampshire and Isle of Wight) from 1917 until his death in 1947.
John Roundall Palmer, 4th Earl of Selbourne, succeeded his grandfather in 1971. He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. Lord Selbourne's interests range widely and he is currently Chairman of the Joint Native Conservation Committee, which co-ordinates UK policy on enviromental issues, bringing together the work of the three countryside agencies in England, Scotland and Wales. From 1983 to 1990 he was Chairman of the Agricultural and Food Research Council and held many posts including Chairman of the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology and Vice-President of the Foundation for Science and Technology. In 1991 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and he is a Fellow of the Institute of Biology of the Royal Agricultural Societies. On 16 July 1996 he was installed as Chancellor of the University of Southampton.
Lazards are a firm of Merchant Bankers, established in the City of London since 1870, and who employ over 500 people. Their registered offices are in Moorfield, Highwalk, Barbican, and the company specialises in capital issues and mergers, medium and long-term finance projects and international ship finance.
Brigadier John Willis Fleming was the last member of the Fleming family to occupy Chilworth Manor. The family has a significant link with the house which was owned by the family for many generations and one of its most famous forefathers, Sir Thomas Fleming was Lord Chief Justice of England and was a member of the council that tried Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton was a visitor to the estate. Famous for his Father Brown novels, Chesterton was known as one of the most colouful and provocative writers of his day. He studied art at Slade School, although he never formally practiced it, preferring instead to write critiques, poetry and novels. After his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1922 he wrote his much acclaimed 'Life of St. Francis of Assisi'. He died in 1936.
A great friend of the Chesterton Brothers, it seems likely that Joseph Hilaire Pierre Rene Belloc visited Chilworth. He was an Anglo-French writer and poet, born at St. Cloud near Paris. The son of a French barrister and an English wife, he was naturalised in 1903. Educated in England, he did French military service. In 1906, he became a Liberal MP, but disillusioned by politics did not seak re-election. He is best known for his delightfully non-sensical verses for children, 'The Bad Child's Book of Beasts' and the 'Cautionary Tales'. On a more serious note he wrote, 'The Servile State', advocating the rejection of socialism and the return to medieval guilds.
A graduate of the famous West Point Military Academy, Dwight David Eisenhower became a respected American General and the 34th President of the United States of America. In 1942, Eisenhower assumed the command of the Allied forces mustered to enter French North Africa. Despite his lack of experience of high command he was highly successful in translating military theory into practical action. His role in Operation Overlord won him further accliam. He was Supreme Commander of the Allied Cross Channel invasion in 1944 and is said to have stayed at the Manor before launching his offensive. His popularity swept him to the office of President in 1952 and again in 1956.
Dorothy Sayers was related to former owners of the Manor. She is particularly remembered for creating the amateur sleuth Peter Wimsey featured in many novels. 'Unnatural Death' was first published in 1927 when Chilworth Manor was in its heyday as a country house and could easily have been the setting for one of Peter Wimsey's cases.
Although we remain privately owned and operated on the 1st July 2010 we became part of the Best Western Hotel group and are now known as BEST WESTERN Chilworth Manor. Below is a brief outline of how Best Western was formed, why it came to be and the ethos behind the group:
The group started out as a simple informal link between properties with each hotel recommending another to travelers. It is from these humble beginnings that they have grown into the largest group of independently owned and managed hotels in the world - they still strongly believe they have the same ethos now as the day it was started.
Best Western GB is part of Best Western International, based in Pheonix, America who founded the brand in 1946. The group spread its wings in teh swinging sixties and started the license the brand overseas.
The British story started in 1967 with Interchange Hotels who joined with Consort Hotels in 1999 to start the British arm of the Best Western brand. Interchange and Consort Hotels remains today as the parent company of Best Western GB brand.