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South Wraxall Manor House

Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

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South Wraxall Manor House

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South Wraxall Manor House was started by the Long family in the 1420s as an open hall house, with additions they made in the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. There is an unfounded tradition that Sir Walter Raleigh was a visitor here to his friend Sir Walter Long (died in 1610) and that this was where tobacco was first smoked in this country.

After the death of unmarried Walter Long (1712-1807), the house and estate passed to the Longs of Rood Ashton, another branch of the family. 

The house was used as a private boarding school run by Dr Francis Knight (1767-1837) from 1817, when his school moved from Frankleigh in Bradford, until 1826. Then it was empty off and on until 1899, when it was leased to Major Eustace Richardson Cox (1862-1935), who did much to restore it (the garden was laid out for him by A.C. Martin).  It was requisitioned during World War 2 to house evacuees. In the 1950s the press baron Esmond Cecil Harmsworth, 2nd Viscount Rothermere (1898-1978) lived there (he and his wife Ann divorced and she married the James Bond writer Ian Fleming in 1952).

The South Wraxall Manor estate was sold off in several lots by Walter Hume Long MP in 1919, the house itself not being sold until 1966.

It has belonged to rock musician John Taylor of Duran Duran and his wife Gela Nash since 2005 and was featured in a BBC television programme in the series The Country House Revealed, with Dan Cruickshank in 2011 (accompanied by a book).