Leigh House

Leigh Park Hotel, Bradford Leigh, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire


Leigh Park Hotel

Leigh House, now the Best Western Leigh Park Hotel- the former entrance front


Leigh House is situated on the road that runs from Whitehill in Bradford on Avon northwards to South Wraxall and Corsham, at the crossroads with the road from Frankleigh to Woolley.

The house is faced in cut Bath Stone ashlar, with three angular bays on the south side, of two stories with dormer windows in the slate-covered mansard roof. A stable yard is on the west, reached today from the road to the north, where there is a lodge house. The north side of the house is now the entrance to the house, via a columned porch.

There seems to be the remains of a Tudor period house in the house’s core, perhaps part of the home of the Bayley family that lived at Bradford Leigh from the mid-16th to mid-18th centuries, although the neighbouring Leigh Farmhouse also has features of that period too. Daniel Clutterbuck (1744-1821), a lawyer in Bradford from a family with roots in Gloucestershire, had acquired it by 1788 and built the present house around it. He may have let the house at times, because John Hodder Moggridge was described as “of Leigh House” at the time of his marriage in 1795.

After Daniel Clutterbuck’s death in 1821, it was inherited by his son Thomas. Elizabeth Clutterbuck, Daniel’s widow, died in 1828 and the house and estate were sold off to Admiral Sir Richard Fellowes (1778-1853), ancestor of Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes, who lived there from 1834 to 1840. Then it was bought for £4,000 by Rev John Hopkins Bradney, who gave the southernmost end of the field called Says Green to be the site of the new Christ Church, of which he was the first Perpetual Curate. He also gave land for the National School next to the church, built in 1847 and the Primitive Methodist Chapel of 1845 in Sladesbrook is on former Leigh House land. Bradney died and the house and estate were advertised for sale in 1861 and bought in 1863 by Miss Isabella Rebecca Poynder (1816-1880), who further benefitted the school by giving a bit more of Says Green for a new Infants’ School in 1878. After her death the estate was bought by Michael Palmer who removed much of the land to extend that of his own home, Berryfield House, and sold off Leigh House with grounds and gardens of 19 acres. The next owner was Lady Jane Henrietta Swinburne (1837-1896), daughter of Earl Ashburnham and widow of Admiral Charles Henry Swinburne and the mother of the poet Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909), who visited her there. Lady Swinburne had Leigh House put up for sale in 1888 and it was bought for £6,525 in 1890 by politician the Right Honourable Edmond George Petty-Fitzmaurice (1846-1935), who took his title from the locality as Baron Fitzmaurice of Leigh in 1906.

In 1936 it was bought by Albert Davis (1877-1944), who had built up the fruit and fish company of A.G. Davis & Sons in Bradford and beyond. He got it at auction for the knock-down price of only £1,500 in order that the town could use it as the long-wanted hospital to be called The King George V Jubilee Hospital and Nursing Home. After fund-raising to repay him and for conversion and equipment, the hospital was barely ready when the Second World War broke out in 1939 and it, like many other big houses was requisitioned, first for evacuees, then as a military hospital. Following the war, it was soon absorbed into the new National Health Service in 1947 and served as the District Hospital until 1979 when it was sold to Mr & Mrs Scott-Moody, farmers in Holt, and converted into the present Leigh Park Hotel.