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Hanwell Manor House & Castle, Oxfordshire, England

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  • Leofwine, Ealdorman of the Hwicce (c.950 - c.1023)
    Please see Darrell Wolcott: Edwin of Tegeingl and His Family - The Ancestry of Edwin of Tegeingl; . (Steven Ferry, June 4, 2020.)In the above cite, Darrell Wolcott indicates that Eadwine was probably a...

Hanwell Manor & Castle, Oxfordshire, England

Image Geograph © Copyright Ian Rob and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.


Before the Norman conquest of England an Anglo-Saxon called Lewin or Leofwine held the manor of Hanwell, along with those of Chinnor and Cowley. Whereas the conquering Normans dispossessed many Saxon landowners after 1066, Leofwine still held Hanwell manor by the time the Domesday Book was compiled in 1086. The de Vernon family held the manors of Hanwell and Chinnor, and retained Hanwell until 1415 when Sir Richard de Vernon transferred the manor to Thomas Chaucer, Speaker of the House of Commons of England. After Chaucer's death in 1434 Hanwell passed to his widow Maud and then their daughter Alice de la Pole. Alice's second husband was William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and Hanwell remained with the Duchy of Suffolk until almost the end of the 15th century.

In 1498 Edmund de la Pole, 3rd Duke of Suffolk conveyed the manor to William Cope, who was Cofferer to Henry VII. In 1611 James I made William's great-grandson Anthony Cope a baronet. Hanwell remained with the Cope baronets of Hanwell until the death of Sir John Cope, 5th Baronet in 1721. It then passed to another branch of the Cope family, Sir Jonathan Cope, 1st Baronet of Bruern. When Sir Charles Cope, 3rd Baronet died in 1781, Hanwell passed to one of his sisters, Catherine.

In 1790 Catherine's daughter Arabella was married to John Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset and received Hanwell from her mother. In 1825 Hanwell was inherited by the Duke and Duchess's younger daughter, Elizabeth Sackville-West, Countess De La Warr, wife of George Sackville-West, 5th Earl De La Warr. Hanwell manor has remained with the Earls De La Warr: in 1946 Herbrand Sackville, 9th Earl De La Warr passed the manor to his son Lord Buckhurst, the future William Sackville, 10th Earl De La Warr.

Hanwell Castle

Hanwell Castle was not a castle but a house with ornamental battlements, originally called Hanwell House or Hall. William Cope began building it in 1498, the year he had received the manor of Hanwell from the Duke of Suffolk. It is the earliest example of a brick building in north Oxfordshire. It was a large house with west, north and south ranges around a central quadrangle. Jennifer Sherwood and Nikolaus Pevsner contend that there was an east range but Mary Lobel et al.maintain that there was none. The house has fishponds fed by the village spring.

The Cope family had links with Catherine Parr (1512–48), the sixth and last wife of Henry VIII. Sir Anthony Cope, 1st Baronet entertained James I at Hanwell House in 1605 and 1612, and at the castle Sir William Cope, 2nd Baronet entertained James I in 1616 and Charles I in 1637.

Late in the 18th century most of Hanwell Castle was demolished. The western part of the south range was retained as a farmhouse, and in 1902 some restoration and extensions were made to the surviving building. It is now a Grade II* listed building.

In 2015 renovation work at Tudor Cottage in the village revealed the broken remains of a stone relief of a Tudor coat of arms believed to have come from the castle. The relief is finely carved from clunch and is described as being of "national importance", but has not been dated with certainty as parts are missing.

The cricket player George Berkeley lived at the castle until his death in 1955.

Astronomical observatory

Hanwell Community Observatory is in the castle grounds, which are a dark site for astronomy. The observatory was founded in 1992 and the grounds are open to the public at the observatory's annual open weekend every February.

References and Sources


// this project is in History Link