Celebrating 1,000 years of history at Great Tangley Manor with son et lumière show
PUBLISHED: 08:10 11 July 2016 | UPDATED: 08:27 11 July 2016
To mark 1,000 years as one of Britain's longest continually inhabited homes, the impressive Great Tangley Manor near Wonersh hosted a spectacular son et lumière telling of its history. Surrey Hills Society chairman and Surrey Life columnist, Chris Howard, was among those at the event
Who would have thought that nestled in the Surrey Hills, just south of Guilford, is possibly the longest continually inhabited house in the UK. This year is its 1,000th birthday!
Great Tangley Manor recently opened its gates so that the general public could join current owners, Anne and Glyn Powell –Evans and their family, to celebrate this momentous occasion with a pageant, picnic and light show production.
The spoken pageant told the story of the manor, and was narrated by broadcaster and local resident Michael Buerk.
Just on dusk, the 350 guests assembled in front of the house, to be greeted by two large eyes blinking from the top windows of the iconic black and white timbered house. The house then proceeded to tell us its history.
A journey through time
Being an old house, he said his memory was rather hazy in parts, but he believed he started life in 1016 when he belonged to King Harold’s younger brother - Alnod Cilt. Upon Alnod’s death, it is mentioned in the Doomsday Book that he passed on to Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, who is best known for commissioning the Bayuex Tapestry. The house stated that he was in possession of nobility for much of his early life and spent much of it as a farming manor and hunting lodge. One of his most notorious owners was King John (the one associated with Robin Hood), who apparently came here following the signing of Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215.
Many famous people were remembered by the house, including three local residents: Stephan Langton and George Abbot, who both became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1207 and 1611 respectively, and John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress (1678).
Royalty mentioned, included Queen Alexandra, Edward VII, George V and the duke who became George VI, father of Queen Elizabeth II.
The house has strong associations with the Arts and Crafts Movement of the late 19th century, when it was purchased by Wickham Flower, a founder member of the Society of Ancient Buildings. He was friends with many famous Arts and Crafts Movement figures including architect William Webb, who did much of the renovation and restoration of the house at this time.
Other visitors included authoress Virginia Woolf, designer William Morris, influential Surrey architect Edwin Lutyens, and his landscape designer friend, Gertrude Jekyll.
The ancient moat around the house was re-instated at this time and the house and gardens were much admired in the Edwardian period.
The western wing of the house was purchased by Anne and Glyn Powell-Evans in 1997, who then managed to re-unite the house in 2005 on the death of Jean-Paul Marix Evan, who owned the east wing and lake.
Today, the house remains a private home but the family are very involved with the local community, so many of the villagers know it well. The house is in fine shape to continue to hold the crown as the oldest house in continuous use. A very Happy Birthday to Great Tangley Manor!
This unique event also helped to raise funds for two local charities, Topic of Cancer and the Surrey Hills Trust Fund. For more information, visit greattangleymanor.co.uk