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Wolfhall

Although locally it has always been associated with Burbage, Wolfhall actually only became part of the parish in 1988. Prior to that it belonged to Grafton, and prior to that to Great Bedwyn (which contained both Grafton and Burbage in Saxon times). In the Doomsday book of 1086 it is referred to as Ulfela. The following photographs are copies of postcards issued about 1907.

Wolfhall from the South

Wolfhall from the south (rear view)

Wolfhall 1998

The same view today

The original building (of which very little remains) was the ancestral home of the Wardens of Savernake Forest. Originally the Esturmys then, via the female line, the Seymours lived here until abandoning it during the latter part of the 16th century. By 1575 the family was living at its replacement, Tottenham Lodge (an old hunting lodge in Tottenham Park), about 1 mile away. The house was then used for servants but gradually became more dilapidated until the majority of it was demolished about 1665 to help restore the fire-damaged house at Tottenham Park.
A daughter of the Warden, Jane, married Henry VIII and bore Edward, the future King of England. Local folklore has it that the wedding took place in the ancient barn although more reliable sources place the event in London. It is probable however that the King hosted a celebratory wedding feast at the barn as records show that he visited the old house on a number of occasions. The barn survived into this century and reputedly, when it burned down in the 1920s, it still had the hooks on which the decorations and tapestries had hung .

Wolfhall Barn

Wolfhall Barn

During Edward VI's reign his uncle (later made the duke of Somerset) was Lord Protector until being beheaded for treason. It was during this period that the family's fortunes and the house fell into decline although the former were to be revived during Elizabeth's reign.

Wolfhall from the north

The current, largely Victorian building was being lived in by Lord Frederick Bruce when the photos were taken. During lord Bruce's tenancy he noticed a small stained glass window commemorating Henry and Jane. It is believed to be contemporary of the period and was moved to the chancel of Great Bedwyn's church where it can still be seen.
The Bruces, and then the Brudenell-Bruces, succeeded Seymours to the Wardenship via the female lines. The current warden is the Earl of Cardigan, son and heir of Michael Sidney Cedric Brudenell-Bruce, the 8th marquess of Ailesbury.

John Aubrey visited the area in 1672 and said of Wulfhall :-

"..the ancient seate of the Sturmeys, which house has been much bigger, and great part pulled downe within these 10 years to build the house of Tottenham Parke. I remember a long gallery. It was never but a timber house, v Camden (although he does not actually mention the material). Here is a very long barne of ..... bays, and 3 porches of timber and thatcht : in this barne, then 1536, hung with tapestry was a wedding kept for Queen Jane."

J.E. Jackson added in 1862 :-

"The name is derived from a probable Saxon owner Ulph. Under the name Ulfela it was held at the Conquest by Ralph de Halville an officer of the King's. In the time of Henry III it was, together with the greater part of the district around, part of the fee of the Earl's Marshal under whom there were three landowners : Robert Beauchamp; Hugh Poer ; Richard Berenger. Under Beauchamp, Henry Esturmi held Wulfhall in 3 Ed I. By 6 Ed III, Sir Roger de Stock had it. The Earl Marshall as owner was afterwards represented here, as at Bedwyn, by the Lords Stafford, under whom the Esturmy family continued until their heiress brought it to the Seymours."

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©Colin Younger 1997-2000