Dinmore Manor is a 12th-century property that has evolved over hundreds of years to become one of Britain's most spectacular and beautiful estates. Penny Churchill tells its remarkable story.
The launch onto the open market of the spectacular 1,468-acre Dinmore Manor estate at Hope under Dinmore, near Leominster, north Herefordshire — through Knight Frank and Savills for £28 million — shines a discreet spotlight on one of the west of England’s most secretive and most beautiful residential, sporting and farming estates.
The Manor itself is straight out of a fairytale. Listed Grade II, it stands on high ground in a remote wooded valley, halfway between Hereford and Leo-minster, and was surrounded by the Royal Forest of Marden in the Saxon and early-Norman periods.
The earliest parts of the manor house were built in the late 16th century, but various elements have been added and updated ever since. Interestingly, some of the newest additions to the manor house are the magnificent Cloisters and Music Room, which were added by the Murray family in 1936.
Although only built in the early 19th century, the south entrance contains much original 14th-century stonework and the grand hall contains an early-Jacobean mantelpiece and panelling of the same period.
Two early-16th-century fireplaces, which came to light during alterations, have been restored to their original condition. The lower buildings to the west of the original house probably date from the early 18th century.
A private driveway of more than a mile leads past a gate lodge through open parkland, across streams and through woodland, before passing through ornate automatic gates to the front of the manor house.
A grand entrance hall leads to a newly created cantilevered staircase and the impressive main reception rooms.
These include an elegant drawing room with an 18th-century veined-marble fireplace from Berkeley Castle, an intimate green panelled sitting room and the main dining room, which stretches along the southern façade of the manor and boasts a fine Georgian fireplace of 1765.
A highlight of the interior is the wonderful Music Room, with its two staircases — one leading to the Cloisters overlooking the garden and a second leading up one of the turrets to a secret sixth bedroom.
The first floor houses the sumptuous master suite and four more bedroom suites, with a further suite built into the trusses of the roof on the second floor.
The compact formal gardens were laid out in the 1920s. To the north of the manor, they are predominantly laid to lawn, with formal box hedging and topiary divided by flagstone walkways. The west of the garden is bounded by the exquisite cloisters, in front of which a series of lily ponds cascades down towards the ha-ha at the foot of the garden.
Having purchased Dinmore from the Murray family in 1999, its present owner has ‘left no flagstone unturned’ in restoring and extending the historic manor house, acquiring 600 acres of additional land and two further properties, establishing an award-winning Limousin cattle-breeding unit and setting up a world-class showjumping operation based on the finest European sport-horse bloodlines.
In addition to expertly managed farming and woodland enterprises, it incorporates an exciting high-bird shoot and a portfolio of 19 impeccably renovated estate houses and cottages, the majority of which are let on assured shorthold tenancies.
The history of the place is fascinating, and stretches back over 800 years. In 1189, Dinmore was inaugurated as a Commandery of the Knights Templar and, following their suppression in 1320, of the Knights Hospitaller. Its role was not only to serve as a training centre for knights engaging in the early Crusades, but also to provide shelter and sanctuary to travellers and pilgrims undertaking the hazardous journey to the Holy Land.
Little remains of the original 12th-century chapel at Dinmore, apart from a few pieces of walling: the rest of the chapel, now listed Grade II*, was rebuilt and slightly enlarged in about 1370. The oak roof and the interior of the chapel have remained practically untouched since then, although the stained-glass windows were painted, from 1884 onwards, by the Rev Harris Fleming St John, who also added the porch.
Over the centuries, the Hospitallers of Dinmore received many gifts of land and goods and, at the Dissolution in 1540, owned lands and Church property in Herefordshire, Shropshire, Gloucestershire, Monmouth-shire and Glamorgan. After 1540, the manor reverted to the Crown and was granted to Sir Thomas Palmer, who unwisely sided with Dudley in backing Lady Jane Grey’s claim to the throne and was tried and beheaded in 1553 by order of Queen Mary.
In 1559, Elizabeth I gave Dinmore to John Wolrych from Shropshire, whose descendants lived there until 1739, when the estate was sold to Richmond Fleming of Sibdon Castle, Shropshire.
The Fleming family, in its various guises, held Dinmore until 1927, when it was sold to Richard Hollins Murray. Murray’s descendants owned it until 1999 when the present owners took it on; now, the estate is looking for a new owner to write the next chapter of its history.
The Dinmore Manor Estate is for sale through Knight Frank and Savills for ‘offers over £28 million’— see more details and pictures.
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