This remarkable Grade II*-listed Elizabethan manor house is set in almost eight acres of grounds on the edge of the pretty village of Fivehead in Somerset. Painstakingly restored and renovated to an exacting standard, the house sits in the centre of its gardens and has handsome elevations of local stone built in a grand vernacular manner over three light-filled storeys. Internal accommodation extends to over 8,500 sq ft with six bedrooms and a series of imposing and beautifully designed living spaces with exceptional historic features, including original elm joinery and large stone fireplaces. Additionally, there is a charming three-bedroom guest cottage and other ancillary buildings. The pretty local towns of Bruton, Langport and Somerton are all easily accessible, as are the larger cities of Bristol, Bath and Exeter, and the north and south Devon coasts. London Paddington can be reached by train from Taunton in just over two hours door-to-door, and Bristol airport is less than an hour away.
Setting the Scene
The house is built on a double-pile E plan and constructed from local coursed and squared blue Lias stone with Hamstone dressings; Wisteria winds its way across the house’s main elevations. The façade is punctuated with mullioned leaded glass windows, and a trio of steeply pitched roofs with gable ends crown the structure.
The original house was built as a 15th-century early Tudor hall house. It was then remodelled and extended in the late 16th and early 17th centuries and later underwent extensive restoration in 1905 by a noted ecclesiastical architect of the day. Since then, this house has been sensitively modernised while retaining countless historic features, including the generously proportioned rooms, high ceilings with fine cornicing, original Hamstone fireplaces and an impressive open-well staircase with further elm partitions and panelling. For more information, please see the History section.
The Grand Tour
A winding driveway surrounded by floodlit cedar trees is accessed by electronic and remotely-operated gates set in Hamstone pillars. This leads to the main house and its forecourt. The main entrance is through the gabled three-storey porch, which sits in the centre of two front-facing broad wings. This porch is lined with stone benches and has an arched opening with moulded jambs. It forms a cross-passage with a similar door on the opposite side of the building; the rear elevation beautifully mirrors the main south-facing exterior, and there is a generous boot room in the back porch.
The grand square-set great hall lies in the centre of the house with a beautiful open vista directly to the rear gardens. The room is laid with local blue Lias flags and has wainscotting made of ancient elm. Two open-well staircases at the east and west ranges lead to the upper floors; the entire ground level has underfloor heating.
The drawing room opens immediately from the great hall, with an incredible sexpartite full-height stone mullion window forming a vast expanse of the west-facing elevation. Panelling, painted a subtle chalky white, surrounds the remainder of the room and has a working fire set within. Each room in the house has been painted in varying shades of white, each responding to the specific light in the defined space. There is an adjacent fully-panelled withdrawing room to the rear, connected by a wide set architrave.
Steel frame glass doors from the drawing room open to the west hall, and the remarkable Elizabethan open-well staircase, made from elm with splat balusters, newels with shaped finials and matching pendants; panelling flanks the walls, and a newel post is a particularly exceptional detail of the structure. To the rear of this inner hall is a comfortable sitting room with a large inglenook fireplace and inset wood burner.
A study is set to the rear of the ground floor leading from the great hall, while the east hall opens to the secondary staircase, dining room and kitchen. The dining room has a large timber bressummer that spans the entire width of the room, with a stone fireplace set below. There is a window seat set in the canted bay. Recesses on either side of the fireplace would have contained bread ovens in the early 20th century but may have formerly housed curing chambers and a kiln.
A separate plank door opens from the east hall to the spacious kitchen. Here, limestone flags line the floor, and a generous informal dining area is set within a wide recess. The pitch of the roof has been beautifully revealed to allow for an exceptional sense of space, with an oculus set into each gable end. The lead-coloured panelled kitchen cupboards were made bespoke for the kitchen by a master joiner, housing integrated appliances with durable Silestone resting atop. A freestanding Wolf stainless steel range stove with induction hobs and two separate butler sinks with brass mixer taps are set within; along one wall is a glass-fronted dresser in a corresponding design. Steel frame French doors open to the rear gardens, and a separate side door opens to the adjacent cottage’s connecting courtyard.
The first floor is home to five bedrooms, each with its own bath or shower room. All bathrooms have been thoughtfully conceived to incorporate Crosswater brassware and are clad in differing Mandarin Stone tiles. The vast principal bedroom suite is positioned in the centre of the plan within the house’s primary range. The room is dual aspect and has a remarkable plaster ceiling in the Jacobean style. The strapwork and pendant design is based on a fragment of original plasterwork found in the former home of Henry VIII’s mother, Elizabeth of York (see history). Sleeping quarters are currently set in the southern part of the room to maximise the very best light, with a seating area in the centre and a freestanding burnished bateau bathtub placed in the canted bay at the opposite end. Adjacent, there is an elegant and spacious en suite bathroom.
The uppermost floor’s eastern range is currently configured with a large bedroom, sitting room and bathroom, perfect for older children, guests or staff. The west range on this floor is used as a large additional living room but could also be used as a private study or overflow sleeping quarters. There are also several attic rooms for storage in the roof’s pitch.
Exterior buildings and ancillary accommodation include the 16th-century former cooks’ house. The cottage is full of characterful features, including exposed wooden beams. It provides light-filled spacious accommodation over two storeys with internal accommodation extending to almost 1,900 sq ft. The ground floor has a sitting room, dining room and kitchen of the same design as the main house. This floor also benefits from an attractive garden room with a dual aspect and French doors that lead out to the gardens. On the second floor, there is an en suite bedroom and two further double bedrooms that share the main bathroom. A detached washhouse is positioned in the kitchen courtyard, with a laundry and utility room with additional storage.
There are also two original facing stable blocks, with gates on either end for additional security and complete enclosure if required. The east block is home to five garages, and there is exterior space for parking several vehicles to the rear (an EV charging point is positioned beside the cottage).
Directly facing this is the west block, which is currently used as a lodge and configured as an entertainment room. It also has a gym and kitchen facilities. Architect plans have already been approved for specific alterations to the building, including large glass sliding doors, details of which can be found here.
The Great Outdoors
The gardens at Langford Manor are exquisitely landscaped, enveloping the house and forming a direct relationship with its majestic blue Lias stone exterior. Extending to almost eight acres, parkland with mature cedar trees bound by estate railings form the main gardens at the front of the house and are relieved by plentiful established flower beds that change colour and bloom throughout the spring and summer, providing constant flowers for the house . A bluebell wood provides a beautiful sea of uniform colour come springtime, and a small brook bisects these gardens, culminating in a pond at the eastern boundary.
There are large courtyard terraces at the front and rear of the house, both opening from the entrance hall and forming wonderful outdoor entertaining spaces, perfect for alfresco drinks or lunches. There are also a formal parterre and a separate walled garden, the former with beautiful topiary and flowers, and the latter with raised kitchen beds and lawns offering a variety of well-established hedgerows, trees and flowerbeds. The mature orchard has plentiful apple and plum trees, which grow heavy with fruit in the summer and autumn. Open fields extend to the front and rear of the gardens, meaning there are lovely open vistas.
Also on the grounds is a Victorian greenhouse that has been rebuilt to the original design, as well as established fruit cages and a croquet lawn. The paddock was once home to a horse and at a separate time, a small flock of sheep. A tennis court is positioned in the southeast of the grounds, and there is pre-planning approval for an outdoor swimming pool.
Additionally, a private rear driveway to the house from Langford Lane connects directly to the A378 Langport to Taunton road. This driveway is useful for service vehicles and large lorries or as a general secondary and separate entrance and exit.
Out and About
Langford Manor and the nearby village of Fivehead are in the heart of Somerset, enjoying incredible views across Sedgemoor, the Somerset Levels, and the Vale of Isles. Fivehead has a charming village hall and a local pub, The Crown. There are countless walking routes in the immediate area, including along the pretty Fivehead river.
Local amenities can be found in the nearby village of Curry Rivel and include a general provisions store, a post office and The Firehouse, a brilliant stone-baked pizza joint. Just five miles away, Langport had two excellent bakeries, a butcher, a weekly farmers’ market, and a pretty café set on the river. The picturesque market town of Ilminster has the excellent Barrington Boar bar and restaurant and its own weekly market.
Somerton is eight miles away with its lively High Street, renowned antique shops, brilliant White Heart pub and of special note, 28 Market Place – a restaurant, bakery, and wine shop. Street and Glastonbury, each 12 miles away, are home to larger supermarkets and stores. Bruton is possibly the most popular local town, home to the members-only Newt hotel, restaurant and gardens, Michelin-starred Osip restaurant and internationally acclaimed Hauser & Wirth art gallery, with surrounding gardens by Piet Oudolf.
For adventures in nature, Branscombe beach at Seaton is reachable in under an hour by car, is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Jurassic coastline, and is also part of the Southwest Coast Path for walking routes.
There is an excellent choice of independent schools for boys and girls of all ages, including Hazlegrove Prep School, Sherborne School, Taunton School, Kings College, Queen’s College and King’s Hall. Other well-known schools in the area include Millfield and Blundell’s, all within driving distance.
Transport links are very good, with major cities including Exeter city centre just 33 miles away and Cribbs Causeway at Bristol (for the M4 junction) 39 miles away. Bristol airport is less than an hour’s drive from Langford Manor, and junction 25 of the M5 is just 7 miles away. Taunton train station is 25 minutes’ drive from Langford Manor, with direct mainline services to London Paddington taking one hour and 40 minutes. Alternatively, central London can be reached by car, via the M3, in around 2 hours and twenty minutes.
Council Tax Band for the main house: H
Council Tax Band for cottage: C
First records of a house on this site date to 1255, when it was called Langford Fyfehed. The house comprises an original 15th-century hall house that was extended and remodelled in the late 16th century, with the addition of two wings to the north, and in the early 17th century, when the two wings and porch bays were added.
The features within are still predominantly late 16th and early-17th century, including the stone fireplaces with Ham stone surrounds, the west wing staircase with splat balusters and the incredible elm partitions.
The two-storey cottage is described in a mid-16th century document as the Steward’s or Dairy house but may have been initially a detached cook’s house.
Sybilla de Gundvill is the first known owner of the house, as records from the 13th century illustrate. By 1309, the house was owned by the de Langfordes, who later married into the Beauchamp family and then Seymour’s (Earl of Somerset), who provided Henry VIII with his third and favourite wife.
In 1518, Sir John Speake left the property to the Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral in an attempt to save his soul from purgatory.
Nathaniel Barnard, a member of a wealthy Shepton Mallet family, then bought the property’s leasehold from the Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral in 1649 for £2,017. Then came the Richardson family, who owned the house from 1787 to 1895. Descendants William and Camilla Henry bought the freehold from the Dean and Chapter of Exeter in 1860.
Recent widow Jessica de Mowbray Materson bought partly derelict house in 1900 – she completed the most fundamental renovation the house had received since the Elizabethan era. Ecclesiastical architect Rupert Austin oversaw the works and unearthed the ancient elm panelling, ham stone fireplaces and large ovens in the dining room. The current kitchens were extended and built in the 1990s in an empathetic design to complement the main house.
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