Only a fragment of a once larger house
Although now only a fragment of what was once a much larger house, Wolveton remains one of Dorset's finest manors. It was inherited in 1480 by John Trenchard at the death of his maternal grandfather, John Mohun, who had married the Wolveton heiress, Joanna Jourdain. Soon afterwards he began to build a new house. His son, Sir Thomas, continued the work, building a courtyard house which was later extended by Sir George Trenchard. The Gatehouse was completed by Sir Thomas in 1534.
Sir Thomas Trenchard inherited Wolveton at his father's death in 1495 when he was a boy of sixteen. There had almost certainly been a fortified house belonging to the Jourdains on the site and indeed the Gatehouse towers appear to be earlier. The shields on its west elevation bear the letters 'T' and 'E', which probably refer to Thomas and his third wife, Edith Hyndford or Hymerford. Sir Thomas Trenchard died in 1550 aged 71 and was succeeded in 1557 by his great grandson, George, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth. Along with a magnificent stone staircase, he built a grand south range with fine windows and plasterwork ceilings. His third son, George, married Lady Penelope D'Arcy, the subject of one of Thomas Hardy's 'Group of Noble Dames'.
In the 18th century, the Trenchards lived mainly at their other house, Lytchett Matravers, and Wolveton began to be overlooked. Its magnificent collection of armorial stained glass was removed to Lytchett, most of it being broken on the way. Many of the rooms were subdivided and let as lodgings. In a secret transaction, William Trenchard sold Wolveton in 1807, to his cousin and solicitor, Robert Henning. Most of Sir Thomas's house was soon demolished, leaving Sir George's wing and the Gatehouse.
Wolveton was bought in 1862 by Mr Weston who, whilst saving the house from ruin, made some rather heavy-handed additions. In 1874 he sold it to Mr Bankes, a younger son of the Kingston Lacy family. Mrs Bankes died at Wolveton in 1947 and it was taken over by her granddaughter, the Countess Zamoyska, who divided up the house. When it became too unmanageable, the Thimblebys stepped in. They have restored Wolveton and its Gatehouse to their former appearance, and since 1994 the Landmark Trust has arranged the letting of the Gatehouse for holidays on their behalf.
For a short history of Wolveton Gatehouse please click here.
To read the full history album for Wolveton Gatehouse please click here.