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Manvers House

3 Kingston Road, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

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Manvers House is a seven-bay Georgian mansion of three floors and a basement with its street fa├žade entirely faced in fine Middle Jurassic (Bath Stone) limestone ashlar. The central doorway has tuscan columns and is decorated with heavy blocks in the Gibbs style; the outer windows of the ground floor are under triangular pediments; a dentilled cornice lies between the second and third storeys.

To the right (east) is a single-storey rubble-stone building with mullioned windows and a stone-tiled roof that is probably the remains of what was a taller later 17th century house; the trace of its roof-line can still be seen. To the left is a plain two-storey building of reconstituted stone blocks that was added between 1965 and 1970 by the Avon rubber company -architects Thurlow, Lucas & Janes, who did most of Avon’s work.

At some time it gained the name Manvers House, derived from the Earls Manvers, who inherited the Hall estate from the Duke of Kingston.

The property belonged to Matthew Smith in the first half of the 18th century and was bought by Samuel Cam (1714-1792) of  The Chantry from Smith’s executors. It descended to Isaac Hillier, clothier and the husband of Cam’s daughter Maria Theresa.

The next owner was another clothier, Thomas Bush (1741-1809). On the 1841 Tithe Apportionment Map it was listed as belonging to Thomas’ son, lawyer John Alderton Bush and occupied by Benjamin Matthews, saddler and harness maker who also held the Lamb Inn, next to the Bridge.

By 1867 it had become the home and surgery of Dr Nathaniel Jarvis Highmore (born in Sherborne, Dorset in 1822) MD, MRCS, who had married Bush’s daughter Harriett Emma (1822-1861) in 1853. The surgery practice had passed to Dr Charles Edward Stewart Flemming (born 1863 in Freshford, died 1951) by 1911 until 1939. In the following year the George Spencer Moulton Rubber Company bought it to use as its main offices and it passed with the rest of the company to Avon Rubber, who still own it (in 2020). Among Avon’s buildings, it was known as shop 91.

After the rubber works themselves had closed in Bradford in 1995, it was used by Avon as its headquarters for the next ten years. Plans were put forward to convert it to flats and to build on the car park, but these were rejected, although a terrace of six houses was later built, by Ashford Homes, on a former car park up Mill Lane.

Following a period when it was vacant, it was let to The Railway Engineering Company (TRE, James Fisher & Sons), which was taken over by Hitachi Information Control Systems Europe Ltd. in 2012 and was their headquarters until moving to a new office building on the Kingston Farm development, Holt Road late in 2019.

Listed grade II*