The history of West Wantley is packed full of historic characters, formerly owned by the Shelley family, along with a former Archbishop of Canterbury, a writer and inventor, and was also visited by Clementine Churchill.
West Wantley is believed to date back to the 15th century, although there is some speculation that the earliest part of the house could in fact be as early as the 14th century.
Like many houses of this age it has seen a number of alterations and additions, but fortunately a number of historic features still remain in the house, including exposed timber beams and a large inglenook fireplace. The inglenook fireplace also features a cupboard for salt, a seat, and high up within the chimney is a recess for curing bacon, believed to be so large a man can lie full length in it.
When writer and inventor, Richard Haines inherited the house and estate from his father, he set about a large rebuilding and a date plaque over the entrance porch shows the initials R H M, for Richard and Mary Haines, along with the date 1656. A large drain head on the west side of the house also features the date 1656.
However, it was in the 18th and early 19th centuries that the house was owned by the Shelley family. In 1815, the estate was in the hands of Sir Timothy Shelley, 2nd baronet of Castle Goring, and father of the renowned romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley. However, by this time, Shelley was 25 and had already written a number of books, as well as been married and run off to Switzerland with the writer, Mary Wollstonecraft. He died only a few years later, in 1822, in a boating accident in Italy. When Sir Timothy died in 1844, the baronetcy and estate passed to the son of the poet Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft, Percy Florence Shelley.
By the 1890s, West Wantley had become the home of Cecil and Mary Paget and it was during this time that Mary Paget would often invite the young Clementine Hozier, the future wife of Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, to stay. It is believed she visited West Wantley a number of times, before she travelled to Europe with her family as a teenager. Clementine married Winston Churchill in 1908.
For more details about West Wantley, on the market with Chesterton Humberts, visit