Please note: This house does not offer free entry to Historic House members.
For alternative options please see other opening options.

Other opening

Overview

View the inner workings of this full restoration project. Continuously inhabited since Domesday, Pevsner called Grade I-listed Halswell 'the most important house of its date in the county'.

The Tudor Manor and 1689 Baroque wing sit in C18 parkland with temples, follies and lakes. The house is contents-free while undergoing complete restoration. 

These private, behind-the-scenes, restoration tours will be given by the owner Edward Strachan or the art & architecture historian Roy Bolton. Since the Baroque Wing was added in 1683-89 the old manor became hidden and mostly put over to services, it has languished in this condition until the current full restoration of the house and estate was begun. The visitor will hear about this tale of two houses and the characters who built the estate until it was broken up in 1950. The house is a rare an important example of English Baroque architecture, even rarer is the ability to see the hands-on revival of the house, which has been in a desperate state for the last 65 years. 

Visitors will be given access to all the areas of the house and grounds that are not closed for necessary restoration purposes. The walk to Mill Wood to see the C18th water gardens being restored, folly by folly, is for the hearty of lung and leg (walking boots needed). For those who would rather keep to the house and its immediate environs, most of the Tudor and Baroque wings will be open, including the roof where a leaving drink can be enjoyed with views to Glastonbury Tor and Wales.


Opening
Opening

Open by Private Tours only.

Find Us
Find us

The estate gates are at the cross roads in the village of Goathurst. There is parking marked near the main house at the top of that drive. The post code will take you past the house and into the stable courtyard, so ignore that final destination; once you see the house you will see the parking area.

Admission
Admission

All 2019 tours are £15.00 per person, with a discount for Historic Houses members.

Please check the website for further information, admission times and details for our special events

Visit website

Forthcoming Tours

17 Jul 2020
1PM - 5PM | £17.00

Tour Overview

Explore all the state rooms in the Baroque Wing, while many rooms in the old manor house can also be viewed. The cellars and roof are open for those willing to climb stairs. There are many follies close to the house but the walk to the 18th century pleasure gardens, Mill Wood, is a must for those with walking boots.

Tour duration

4.5 hours

Tour prices

£15.00 per person.

Refreshments

Tea/coffee and sandwiches on arrival and leaving drinks at the Temple of Harmony.

Access notes

While restorations are ongoing, disabled access is currently limited to accessible areas on the ground floor.

 


Opening
Opening

Open by Private Tours only.

Find Us
Find us

The estate gates are at the cross roads in the village of Goathurst. There is parking marked near the main house at the top of that drive. The post code will take you past the house and into the stable courtyard, so ignore that final destination; once you see the house you will see the parking area.

Admission
Admission

All 2019 tours are £15.00 per person, with a discount for Historic Houses members.

Other opening


Halswell House's history and features

The estate has its origins in the eleventh century with the principal buildings today comprising a Tudor Manor dated from the mid-sixteenth century and a mansion house of 1689.

Originally Halswell and the village of Goathurst were separate entities with the original family living here at least from Saxon times and taking their name from the spring that rises just to the east of the main house.  Over the centuries the various lords purchased additional acres of lands, including much of Goathurst.

According to surviving receipts the Tudor house still existing today to the rear of the north range, was built in 1536 for Robert Halswell.  Robert Halswell died in 1570 and left the estate to his son, Nicholas, who was then a minor.

The Halswell family played little recorded part in national affairs until Sir Nicholas Halswell became MP for Bridgwater in 1603.  He died in 1633, leaving the house to his son Hugh, a clergyman.  Dr Hugh Halswell had no male heirs and the estate passed, through his daughter Jane, to his grandson Halswell Tynte; Jane having married John Tynte of Chelvey, another wealthy Somerset Family.

During the early years of the Second World War the Tudor buildings became the home to St Hilda’s school for girls and then, in the latter years, an area of the parkland became an Italian prisoner of war camp.

After the war the estate was a shadow of its former self.  In the 1940s the National Trust was approached to take over the house, but much of the furniture and paintings had been sold and it declined the offer.  In 1950 the estate was sold and split into several ownerships.  The coach house and stables were converted into freehold residences and the house converted into flats.  The ‘lawn’ on the east became a wilderness, with the Rotunda and grotto buried deep in saplings and undergrowth.  By contrast the ancient oaks, chestnuts, ilex and sycamore in Mill Wood were cleared, many of the garden features were removed, with the rest left to decay and much of the park went under the plough.