Hanham Court – Romans Normans and Bannermans
On the Via Julia from Bath ( Julian Road ) to the Roman Port at Avonmouth the House stands above the river Avon at a strategic point and ancient Ferry Crossing. Most of the tithe Barn we see today is Norman, built in the 11th century, the Church which is connected to the House is 15th Century dating from the point when the House was part of Keynsham Abbey – on the Somerset side of the River, the site of which is now part of Fry’s chocolate factory. Soon after the dissolution of the monasteries it became the country estate of the Creswicke family, who were Mayors of Bristol, for nearly four hundred years.
Historically and Architecturally there is something from almost every century since the conquest; the Tudor Gables and Gatehouse; the knighting of the Creswickes by Charles I who remained loyal through the Civil War, but were wrongly imprisoned following Monmouth’s rebellion on evidence from their neighbours and bitter rivals the Longs of nearby Barr’s Court (now demolished). When their innocence was proven by the testimony of the rebels themselves, James II came down to pardon the Creswickes and a deer was eaten in celebration under the Oak tree by the church. When this veteran tree fell over in September 1997 we planted an acorn from this tree in exactly the same spot.
Georgian improvements were possibly suggested by John Wood who was church warden with the Creswickes for the seven years that he lived at Bitton – the chapel of ease here being part of the parish. In the 19th century came the ‘re-gothification’ when Mr White from London spent his money adding reclaimed mediaeval gargoyles and the pointed roof to the existing Tudor corner tower.
The garden still shows the influence of the celebrated 19th century plantsman and garden writer Canon Ellacombe of Bitton, who wrote a hugely popular book ‘In A Gloucerstershire Garden’.He mentions happy times at Hanham Court and thousands of cyclamen and snowdrops surviving in the garden suggest his hand. About 1900 the Arts and Crafts Kitchen wing extending the house to the west and providing Loggia. In 1993 Julian and Isabel Bannerman moved in with their three sons and began the huge job of restoring the house and garden. There really was no garden here, just the main lawn in a wilderness of shrubs and brambles.