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The district was originally held by the Norman families of de Gournay, de Tilly and de Harptree. Gournay Court stands on the site of an Elizabethan mansion. Sir Thomas de Gournay murdered Edward II, partially suffocating him then thrusting a red-hot poker into his bowels, so that there was no means of identifying the cause of death. He was forced to flee the country and was arrested in Spain in 1332. He escaped to Naples, but was re-arrested and died on the way home.

One hundred years later the de Gournay estate passed into the Duchy of Cornwall, and was not in private hands again until 1928. The present house was built in the time of James I, and nothing remains of the original. The land surrounding the house was farmland until relatively recently.

The house was renovated in the early 1900s, and was used as a hospital for soldiers during World War 1. Queen Mary instigated alterations for her youngest child Prince John, but the Prince died in 1919 at the age of 14. 

Site timeline

1914 to 1918: The house was used as a hospital for soldiers during World War 1.

Features

courtyard

The courtyard has slab paths and steps. The planting is mostly new and includes holly and camellia.

well head

There is thought to be a well in the courtyard.

planting

Feature created: 1930 to 1939

This feature is the walled garden, which was laid out in the 1930s. It has two stone pineapples on the gates which were taken from Coley Court. The main part of the garden is given over to vegetables, but an Elizabethan style box layout was designed in the 1930s and still remains.

pineapple finial

There are two stone pineapples on the gates of the walled garden, which were taken from Coley Court.

garden building

This feature is the tithe barn. It is an interesting grade II listed building built in a curve. It is surrounded by box hedges, holly and grass.

Designation status: The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building Designation Grade II

specimen tree

Mature mulberry.