The Bathford Society

Picture: Bathford Manor House (D. Howells 2006)

Bathford Manor House

This house was built in the 1770s for the Tyndale family at about the time they surrendered the lease of Rectory House, and was originally only half its present size. It was acquired in 1798 by Eleazer Pickwick and so started the association of that remarkable family with Bathford. The family's name, Pickwick, had a popular legend. J. F. Meehan in his Famous Houses of Bath and District repeated the story that a lady driving through Wick discovered an infant under a hedge. She took the child home and later had him baptised Pickwick, he having been picked up at Wick!

The truth is that Eleazer's grandfather was baptised Moses Pickwick at Corsham in 1694 having been found in the part of that parish known as Pickwick. This inauspicious start proved no long term handicap to Eleazer Pickwick who became wealthy as landlord of The White Hart in Bath and was operator of a profitable stage-coach service, notably to London. It was travelling to Bath in one of these coaches proclaiming the proprietor's name that caused Charles Dickens to adopt the name for his immortal Mr. Pickwick.

In 1795 Eleazer Pickwick, the founder of the coaching business, had sent his only son to the university at Oxford. Sadly this son died whilst a young man and consequently Bathford Manor House passed, on Eleazer's death in 1837 to his nephew, William Eleazer Pickwick. On his death in 1867 the property passed to his nephew Charles Henry Sainsbury Pickwick who changed his surname to Sainsbury, his mother's maiden name. He lived at Frankleigh Lodge, near Bradford-on-Avon and dying in 1885 was the last of the family to own Bathford Manor House. His son Cecil Henry Sainsbury continued the family connection with Bathford until his death in 1933. The water trough originally placed near the Crown Inn and now at the entrance to the Recreation Ground is a memorial to his wife given by him in 1916.

In about 1887 Bathford Manor House and its land was purchased by Captain Thomas Gilling-Gilling who died in 1914. His widow continued to live there until her death in 1929. She is remembered as the benefactor who, for a nominal sum, gave the parish the land on which the present parish hall is built, and also as donor of the lich-gate to the churchyard, a memorial to her husband.

After several changes of ownership and its use by Vickers Armstrongs during the 1939-45 War, the estate was purchased by Bathavon Rural District Council, the house being converted to flats and the land developed, principally for Mountain Wood and Dovers Park housing estates.

Source: Bathford Past and Present
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