Gurney Manor

Cannington, Somerset - Sleeps 9

About this Landmark

This mainly late medieval manor house has a large walled garden next to a river on the edge of Cannington. It is a place filled with ancient architectural detail and has an intriguing history to unravel.

Dog Beds 1 Single, 2 Twin, 2 Double

  • Sleeps9
  • 4 nights from £598
  • equivalent to £16.61 per person per night

Surviving unaltered medieval work

Gurney Manor is mainly late medieval and built, unusually, round a courtyard. Apart from the hall roof, which was renewed in about 1900 and Tudor windows and fireplaces in the adjoining solar block, the best medieval work survives unaltered, including a tiny oratory and a pentice, or covered passage, across the yard. The medieval house in its final and most fully developed form, with its balance of private and communal rooms, was a comfortable and convenient one. There can be few better ways of learning this than by staying here, in this tranquil and enclosed place. The man responsible was a lawyer, William Dodisham, son of a Gurney daughter. His heirs, the Mitchells, faded out before the Civil War and life thereafter as a tenant farm kept the house from major rebuilding.

Employing traditional building techniques

In the 1940s Gurney Manor was bought by a local developer and when we first saw it, it was divided into seven run-down flats. We have returned the house itself to its original undivided state. Its repair took eight years, carried out under the careful eye of our foreman, Philip Ford. New roof trusses were made in the traditional way, from oak shaped with an adze (a tool used for smoothing or carving rough-cut wood in hand woodworking). The walls are rendered with lime plaster, buttered to a thinness equal to that achieved by medieval craftsmen. Staying here you can wonder at the skills of craftsmen, both ancient and modern, who have created beautiful but functional objects from wood and stone. Cannington is a nice town, not far from the Quantock Hills.

Floor Plan

‘You can travel back hundreds of years here’

Britain Magazine

Map & local info

Gurney Manor stands in a quiet, peaceful location on the edge of the village of Cannington, not far from the Quantock Hills and the Somerset coast.

Burrow Mump is within driving distance from Gurney Manor, where you can enjoy walks and fantastic views in this unique area of the Somerset countryside. 

Equally close by are The Walled Gardens of Cannington in the beautiful grounds of a Medieval Priory. Look out for special events for children and outdoor theatre performances throughout the summer months. 

Glastonbury Abbey is perhaps the most famous and well loved site in Somerset. Today you can simply enjoy the peace and tranquility of this ancient abbey, or get involved with workshops and exhibitions, as well as children's activities. 

For even more ideas and information on things to see and do suring your stay at Gurney Manor, take a look at our Pinterest Map

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

Gurney Manor
Cannington, Somerset - Sleeps 9
Clear directions

‘Enjoyed the sound of rain cascading from the lead spouts into the courtyard – very medieval.’

‘He who stays in Gurney Manor must give thanks in the chapel to the Landmark Trust.’

From the logbook

Your questions answered

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Via a short unmade track from the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Bridgwater – 4 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    There is parking for four cars adjacent to the property.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    A gas fired boiler heats the property in winter and electric night storage heaters heat the property in summer. There are two open fires.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Logs may be purchased and delivered under a private arrangement. Further details will be provided with your booking confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also a gas cooker and a dishwasher.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There are three bathrooms, all with baths.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    Yes.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There is an enclosed garden. Please note that the river runs (unfenced) directly the other side of the garden gate.

    Booking and Payment

  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will advise you as to whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to carry out the changeover then we consider that it is open and available. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, which may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking.

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Is it true there are no televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there lavatory rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide lavatory rolls and a bar of soap, per basin but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.

Named after its earliest owners

Gurney Manor is named after its earliest owners, the Gurneys. This family owned a lot of land in Somerset, including the part of Cannington which came to be called Gurney Street, where a house was built before 1350. Although little of it survives, the presence of that first open hall with chambers at one or both ends can still be felt in the hall range at the front of the building.

To this simple hall house, rebuilt around 1400 with a new cross-wing containing a solar at its western end, additions were made over the next few decades. The barn was built at the eastern end and the small building, possibly once a kitchen, was added on the north-west corner. Although the main line of the family died out before 1400, there were still Gurneys living in Cannington in the next century - in about 1430 Jane, the daughter and heiress of Hugh Gurney, married Roger Dodisham. From them, the Manor passed to their son William, a lawyer. It was during his lifetime that the courtyard house we see today came into existence.

The Dodishams were a family of rising importance in the area, who had been steadily buying land since the 1380s. William clearly had money to spend: the work he did is all of the highest quality. The hall was given new windows and a porch. At the south end of the west wing, a new solar block was added. This had a parlour and small chapel on the ground floor and a solar on the first, with a fine arch-braced roof. At the same time, a new kitchen range was built, enclosing the south side of the courtyard. Across the yard between it and the hall ran a covered way, or pentice, to shelter the servants as they went to and fro. Above the kitchen were chambers, again with an arch-braced roof. These possibly formed a self-contained apartment, with their own garderobe or privy.

Then, in 1480, William Dodisham left his manor of 'Gourneystrete, in which he himself lived' to his niece Agnes, wife of Walter Michel. The Michels were another rising local dynasty, who already owned nine manors. Agnes herself came from another wealthy family and predictably more was soon done to the house, to bring it up to Tudor standards of comfort. Over the next 50 years, new windows and fireplaces were inserted and a new floor in the hall, creating an upper storey within it.

Then, for a time, everything stopped because in 1539 Thomas Michel, grandson of Agnes, murdered his wife and her sister and then killed himself. Disorder followed, at the end of which it emerged that the family of the murdered women had rushed in and stripped the house of its furniture and the farm of its livestock. Since the Crown also thought it had a claim to these the case was taken to the Court of Star Chamber, which is why we know about it.

The Michels owned Gurney Manor until 1616. Thomas's grandson, Sir Bartholomew, was the last to live there. He may have floored the solar, extending the stair at the same time, as well as forming a garderobe closet in the north-west wing and possibly fitting some panelling. Little has been done since, beyond the re-roofings of the hall range and new windows and floor surfaces here and there. The chapel was at one time used as a china closet and at another as a farm office, at whose window the men collected their wages.

After Bartholomew's death the property went down in the world from manor to farmhouse: his daughter married a Hockmore of Buckland Brewer in Devon, who soon let it to tenants. This pattern continued through changes of owner, first to Gould then to the Earls of Cavan. The last tenants, the Bucknells, played a prominent part in Cannington life and later owned the property from 1925-34, after which house and land were sold separately. During the last War, the house was acquired by Mr C. Harris, who divided it into flats. His heirs sold it to the Landmark Trust, a charity which specialises in the rescue and care of historic buildings. For many years, the house had been divided into nine flats, most of which had fallen empty. Only those in the barn, forming the east wing, were occupied by tenants.

Experience the manor

For up to 9 people

This mainly late medieval Manor house has a large walled garden next to a river on the edge of Cannington. It is a place filled with ancient architectural detail and has an intriguing history to unravel.

Book a stay

Reuniting the historic core

The intention was to repair the entire building and to reunite its historic core as a single dwelling. After eight years work this task was completed in time for Christmas 1992. Gurney Manor is now let for holidays to parties of up to nine people. An income is thus generated for future maintenance and at the same time this lovely house is enjoyed by as many people as possible.

Gurney Manor has been recognised for many years as a most remarkable survival - a little altered late medieval house of high quality, with almost all its original structure still intact. Although parts of the building date back to before 1400, the main period of building was between 1450 and 1480. Most alterations made afterwards, such as new windows or fireplaces, panelling or decorative plasterwork, date from the Tudor and Elizabethan periods. From 1600 until now no substantial change had occurred, beyond the rebuilding of the hall roof, first around 1690 then in about 1890 and again in 1990.

Even the recent division into flats scarcely affected the fabric. Without them, it is possible that the building would have been lost in the 1940s. By 1980 however this extra lease of life had expired. The house was rundown and parts of it were near to collapse, with long-concealed structural problems starting to become obvious as walls and chimneys leaned perilously.

The picture is now rather different, as the Manor has returned to something approaching its appearance in 1600. In 1984 it took the eye of faith, or of considerable knowledge, to see the interior of a medieval house behind the plaster ceilings and partitions that hid all but a few details from view. Now, fine medieval roofs and fireplaces are fully visible and wonderfully repaired. Windows have been reglazed in traditional patterns, walls have on them lime plaster as good as that of medieval craftsmen and ceilings, whether of plaster or moulded oak, are in perfect shape.

In its new life, the original arrangement of the house has been respected and the layout of the rooms for the most part follows the pattern set before 1500. In some cases, such as the parlour, the hall and the chapel, they can be used again as they were in medieval times. But the needs of today have also been catered for. The kitchen has moved to a more convenient site for modern life, between the hall and the parlour. Bathrooms have been fitted in where they do not interrupt the medieval layout. Central heating has been installed, to supplement the heat of the open fires.

To oversee the work, the Landmark Trust employed Caroe and Partners of Wells, architects with a wide experience of historic building repair, together with the equally experienced Quantity Surveyors, Bare, Leaning and Bare of Bath. Nearly all the work was carried out by a team of six men, part of the Landmark Trust's own workforce. Under the careful and knowledgeable eye of the foreman, Philip Ford, our masons and joiners worked on nearly every corner of the building, to make it sound and weathertight.

The owners of Gurney Manor in the past made alterations and improvements to suit their own ideas of comfort. We in turn hope that as a result of our work, our visitors will be comfortable, and quickly feel at home.

The Restoration described Peter Bird of Caroe & Partners

Building work began at Gurney Manor in the autumn of 1984, with the careful removal of modern accretions and plaster layers to attempt to learn more of the history of the house. It is a remarkable building and was worth taking time over; and this archaeological exercise which occupied some nine months was indeed very rewarding. It enabled us to assemble a large fund of information about the building before any decisions were made about repair and it was a most exciting period in that every day seemed to reveal more fascinating detail about the building's past.

Armed with this history of the house it was possible to develop a programme for its restoration stage by stage and to agree the work with English Heritage, who provided a generous grant for the work. Repair began in the solar block. The magnificent 15th-century roof here was badly decayed, the chimney stack was falling out and window tracery was precarious and defaced. The roof was carefully dismantled, repaired and re-assembled. One carved post of the original roof was found to survive and this was conserved and used as a model for the restoration of the remaining posts. The chimney was tied back to the building with a complicated web of concrete stitches; a print of 1845 enabled us to reproduce the early chimney head in stone. During this work the 13th-century carved stone head of a King, now set in the wall of the solar, was found in the hearth of the same room.

Once the solar block was weathertight, work passed to the kitchen range. Here again the 15th-century roof was dismantled and repaired. The south wall, leaning outward because of the sideways load of the roof, was restrained again with a concrete ring beam concealed in the head of the wall: the ends of this beam were tied to the structure by drilling through the wall core, in order to avoid loss of medieval render and plaster which survives inside and out. The nuts and bolts securing the beam can be seen inside the flue of the fireplace.

As the work progressed on the outside 'envelopes' of the kitchen and solar it was possible to turn to the interior and to details such as the repair of the rendering. Where it was missing or loose this has been replaced in lime mortar exactly to match the original. The stonework of the window tracery and dressings has been repaired by consolidation of the old work and by some replacement of the worst decayed material. Repair of timber floors such as the framed floor over the kitchen, all done with epoxy resin to save as much as possible of the old timber, has also been undertaken. The fine chapel ceiling, with its remains of bright medieval paint, was taken down for conservation and to allow for the carving of new fretwork, to replace missing sections.

Next came the hall, where the roof has been restored to its 17th-century level, after taking off the late 19th-century roof and building a new structure at the lower level revealed by research. The roofs of the small building on the north-west corner and the pentice in the courtyard, have also been repaired and the pentice walls rebuilt.

For the last year, work was concentrated on finishing the interior and fitting it out for its new occupants. Even so, there were new finds - during the work for the central heating, for example, the original open hearth in the hall was discovered. As work proceeded over the years more and more had been found out about the building - all this was recorded and our knowledge of Gurney Manor and its builders improved steadily as each stone was removed and replaced.

Experience the manor

For up to 9 people

This mainly late medieval Manor house has a large walled garden next to a river on the edge of Cannington. It is a place filled with ancient architectural detail and has an intriguing history to unravel.

Book a stay

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

QuestionWhat's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.