Untouched rural charm, easily accessible from London

The Wilsford Manor Estate in Wiltshire is a quintessentially English sporting estate, nestling in the famous Woodford Valley on the River Avon. It is a setting of untouched rural charm which is nevertheless easily accessible from London.

With a combination of exceptional water and unique management policies, the estate has one of the best chalk stream fisheries in the UK. Fishing days can be let during the season, which runs from Mid-April to the end of September (see Fishing).

As well as fishing the estate offers driven game bird shooting, providing some 800 acres of well-profiled land with good Wiltshire downs. It has been planted with woodland for shooting on both sides of the principal valley (see Shooting).

Both fishing and shooting clients can book accommodation within the estate, a short walk from the river and a drive of 5 minutes to the shoot. Four separate properties, all within a radius of 75 yards, and capable of hosting a total of 17 people (2 + 3 + 4 + 8), make Wilsford an ideal setting for extended stays to fish or shoot (see Accommodation).

From the Arts and Crafts to the Bright Young Things

Wilsford Manor was built between 1904 and 1906 for Edward Tennant, 1st Baron Glenconner, and his wife Pamela, one of the three daughters of the Hon. Percy Wyndham. The couple commissioned Detmar Blow, a young Arts and Crafts architect and the last disciple of Sir John Ruskin, to build Wilsford after being impressed by Blow’s complete reconstruction of nearby Lake House in 1899. The house evokes aspects of Stockton Manor, which the Tennants had rented, and was built in the spirit of the Arts and Crafts using traditional materials and techniques such as the distinctive flints set in mortar on the facade.

Stephen Tennant, Edward and Pamela’s third son, inherited Wilsford at the age of twenty-three following his father’s death in 1920. He was well known for his flamboyant lifestyle and was considered one of the brightest of the “Bright Young Things” during the 1920s and 1930s. Friends of his who regularly stayed at Wilsford included Rex Whilstler, Cecil Beaton, Siegfried Sassoon, Edith Sitwell and Nancy Mitford. Tennant spent the later years of his life as a recluse at Wilsford, leaving the exteriors of the house overgrown and its interiors as colourful and eccentric as his personality.

Following his death in 1987 the house was bought by the current owners, who carried out extensive restorations to return it to its original appearance as completed in 1906.