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Chelvey Court
Chelvey, Somerset£3,300,000 Freehold

Chelvey Court

A magnificent Jacobean oak staircase crowned by 17th-century ornamental plasterwork winds through the core of house

Remarkably intact, Chelvey Court is an extraordinary Grade II*-listed Jacobean court house set in the rich Somerset countryside. One of three ancient buildings which comprise a tiny hamlet, the court is found next to a remarkable 13th-century church and a tythe barn with 15th-century origins. The house’s internal plan unfolds over 10,600 sq ft and comprises ten bedrooms in total, with numerous living spaces. The views from the house are stunning; its tall windows overlook the tower of the neighbouring church and the rolling farmland beyond. Beautiful grounds of just under five acres surround Chelvey Court and house a glorious, light-filled studio. Despite its blissfully rural feeling, the house is a 20-minute drive or a 10-minute train journey from central Bristol.

We have written about Chelvey Court in greater depth here.

Setting the Scene 

With a history dating back to the Domesday Book, Chelvey Court is an almost entirely Jacobean house. It is a home shaped by its heritage: timeworn stone flags run underfoot across the ground floor, timber-panelled walls have been painted to resemble exaggerated wood grain and old doors in dressed stone surrounds retain their original ironmongery. There are plenty of medieval fireplaces, some with beautifully carved surrounds – one even displays the original owners’ family crests.

The house has been sympathetically restored over the years, guided by The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB). Walls have been resplendently decorated with limewash that has been mixed with traditional dyes, or with distemper obtained from specialist suppliers. Where new work has been carried out, it has been done so in a contemporary fashion, ensuring a harmonious distinction between old and new interventions. For more information, please see the History section.

The Grand Tour

This spectacular house is owned and lived in by two families who occupy separate parts of the house; each section has five bedrooms and several living spaces. Outside, areas of the garden are formally reserved for each house, while others are enjoyed communally.

An entrance drive winds up to the house, in part lined by an avenue of 46 mature lime trees, whilst Chelvey Court’s pedestrian entrance is via the churchyard, through an impressive entranceway and Solomon’s porch emblazoned with the Tyntes family crest. The porch is topped by a Jacobean strapwork balustrade around a balcony accessed from a bedroom above.

From the entry is the first kitchen, a lovely room lined with original painted panelling and with wooden floorboards underfoot. Double doors open into a dining area, which in turn leads to the sitting room. Doors can be left open to unite the spaces or closed to delineate them. The dining room is home to an incredible carved fireplace surround, heavily ornamented with a dentil cornice on brackets and an overmantel bearing the same family arms. A wood-burning stove has been fitted within. The living room also has an impressive fireplace and is crowned with rare plasterwork including a central oval ceiling panel embellished with painted and gilded foliage. The windows are surrounded by beaded panelling and frame views over the nearby church.

A second kitchen sits in the other section of the house, where the original working part of the court house would have been. Pennant stone floors run underfoot and an oil-fired Aga has been positioned in an original stone fireplace. Bespoke cabinetry has been installed to create a larder cupboard and space for storing crockery.

An open-plan dining room and living space unfolds from the kitchen. Here, a remarkable 17th-century spit rack remains on one wall, as well as a historic timber meat preparation slab measuring some 20 ft long. The latter is thought to date to the 15th century and would have been in situ in the-then main kitchen. Adjacent is another sitting room, this time painted green, with a door which leads into the garden.

Another magnificent ancient reception room, is linked to the other living spaces. Previously it has also been used as a separate living quarter, as a small study/bedroom and bathroom lie off it. Pictures of this room can be found in our Almanac piece.

Arguably the largest of many jewels in Chelvey Court’s crown is its stately oak staircase. Comprising six flights of nine risers, the staircase is six feet wide, marching around an enormous square stairwell with its balustrading of fat turned balusters and socking great newel posts. Above, a ceiling pendant hangs six feet below a collection of fruit and vegetables in a strapwork fashion. Fashioned in ornamental plasterwork, it remains intact from the early 1600s. The staircase has been shared between the two halves of the home and has been the site of many a festive celebration where more than 100 friends and family have joined to sing heartily with a brass band accompaniment.

There are ten bedrooms in total; three of which are particularly capacious, and others which vary in size, all of which are bright and decorated in considered colourful tones. Those bedrooms along the east side of the house have Georgian windows with stone surrounds, while those along the other are characterised by stone mullions and traditional leaded lights. Most of them have fireplaces. One bedroom leads onto the balcony above Solomon’s porch, where there are truly incredible views across the Somerset countryside from all sides. One of the bedrooms has an en suite, while the others are served by family bathrooms, one of which is accessed via a staircase painted in a bold harlequin pattern.

The Great Outdoors 

The exquisite gardens surrounding the house have been thoughtfully yet subtly delineated. The walled gardens on the east and west sides naturally have fallen to one or the other homes; it’s only beyond these areas that the ‘parkland’ has been adopted as a shared ownership with shared responsibilities.

The top garden is on the east side and is a delightful and formal space with box parterre, mature yew topiary and a rill and tall clipped hornbeam boxed hedge separating the ancient church from the boundary. Home to a lovely summerhouse/studio, the idyllic garden is set against a backdrop of the neighbouring church.

From here, steps lead down through an alleyway to the gardens on the west side of the house. A tunnel branches off under the entrance bridge through to the ‘sunken garden’ – the garden onto which the east side of the lower-ground floor looks out over, laid out in semi-formal fashion leading across to an old entrance gate, weather-protected with a small tiled canopy.

The gardens on the west side are more formal and surrounded by rubble stone walls punctuated by two charming rubble stone huts with tiled pyramid roofs. Lined with boxed yew hedges, they gently lead down to a lawn and a small orchard with a variety of apples, pears, a medlar and a quince. Two long raised beds and a greenhouse mark out the ‘bottom’ area reserved for growing kitchen produce.

Given the parkland’s proximity to the railway line, the owners decided to build a section of the perimeter up by at least six meters. Enormous quantities of soil were imported to create a hill, and surface water from rainwater was redirected to drain away to a pond alongside Chelvey Road. Graded levels were cut into the bank, forming terraces and a grassy amphitheatre. The area is covered in almost a thousand now-mature trees, making for a delightful woodland stroll around the new hill.

Out and About 

Backwell is a lively village on the outskirts of Bristol. It has a buoyant community scene, with several clubs and a village clubhouse that serves drinks and hosts year-round events. Handy amenities include a doctor’s, dentist, pharmacy, shops and mobile library service. A short walk away there’s a friendly pub, The Rising Sun, with The George only slightly further afield and with a lovely suntrap courtyard. Backwell is surrounded by beautiful countryside and there are splendid wildlife walks including the ‘Backwell Round’ that circles back to finish at the village lake.

Bristol city centre can be reached in around 20 minutes’ drive. Well-served for cultural activities and annual festivals, Bristol city has a thriving art and music scene; Arnolfini and Spike Island lead a well-regarded programme of contemporary exhibitions and performances. The Watershed, a well-loved institution located along the city centre’s harbourside, hosts talks and events alongside its programme of international film screenings.

The broader independent food scene in Bristol has shot up in recent years, with heaps of restaurants cropping up in the centre and throughout the city’s neighbourhoods. Notable highlights include Wilson’s, an excellent, independently owned bistro on Chandos Road, Redland, co-founded in 2016 by partners Jan Ostle & Mary Wilson, and for pasta, Little Hollows is a few doors down. Casa, the excellent new outpost from Michelin-starred chef Peter Sanchez Iglesias, is set on the harbourside, and Cotto in the city centre has great modern Italian menus.

The busy seaside town of Clevedon four miles away on the Severn Estuary and has a community cinema, bookshop and enormous marine lake which is filled with seawater from the Bristol Channel every spring tide. It is perfect for year round cold water swimming.

There are a host of highly commended schooling options which include primary schools, West Leigh Infant School and Kingshill Church School, and secondary schools Backwell School and Nailsea School. All have been rated “Good” by Ofsted and are within a two-mile radius.

Chelvey Court is on the Avon cycleway, a stretch of cycle path over 85 miles long which circles Bristol. The house is also near to the Strawberry Line which runs to Axebridge and Festival Way to Bristol, which are both mainly traffic free routes.

The Bristol to Weston-super-Mare fast bus stops at the end of Chelvey Road, about a mile from the Chelvey Court and an easy walk down a country lane. Trains run from Nailsea and Backwell Station, around a nine-minute drive from the house, directly to London Paddington in an hour and 45 minutes. Bristol Airport is an 11-minute drive and runs several flights to Europe daily. Access to the national motorway network is via the M5 or the A370.

Council Tax Band: G

Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. Inigo has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.


Chelvey Court was a large manor or courthouse that was built circa 1618 to 1660 for Edward and John Tynte. In 1650, the owner married and passed the whole estate onto a tenant farmer, Mr Cottle. Chelvey remained the Cottle family home until 1934, and was part of a working farm, which accounts for why it has been untampered with over successive generations, though it was altered in 1805 when the south wing was demolished.

In 1985, the current owners moved in and set about the long and careful repair of Chelvey Court. Beginning with the underpinning and tying back of the east side and walls, they also repaired the ancient roof structure, adopting the tenets of The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB).

The enormous three-storey stone façade on the west side contrasts with what appears to be a two-storey building, seen from the churchyard.  A large number of stone mullion windows on the west front are all iron-framed, leaded lights, new though following a pattern true to Jacobean origins. On the east side of the house, the windows are timber, probably Georgian, and mostly with secondary glazing.

Chelvey Court — Chelvey, Somerset
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