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Little Sodbury Manor


Little Sodbury Manor is a garden on a 15th-century site. There are a number of gardens, including a formal garden and a sunken garden. There are also ponds, a kitchen garden, bowling green and many mature trees.

A long drive leads to the house from the north. Access to the garden is via a small door on the west side of the house, leading to a large grassed terrace with flowerbeds edging the house. This was once the courtyard. There is a drive leading out to the south.

Flights of stone steps lead down to two further grassed terraces, divided by dense bow hedges and stone walls. Two finials from the tower or buttresses of St. Adelaide's church stand on pillars on either side of the first flight. There are other decorative pieces and a statue on the terraces, all of concrete and fairly modern.

Below the terraces is the Tudor bowling green, which is entered via a stone gateway on the south side. The two flights of steps leading up to the lower terrace are overgrown.

The enclosed area to the south of the bowling green was the kitchen garden, but is now planted with trees including mulberry and medlar. A hazel hedge runs along the north wall, forming a covered walk. The new kitchen garden is a smaller area to the south of this.

The whole of the rest of the garden is grassed and planted with a wide variety of trees, including Scots pine, birch, copper hazel, blue cedar and handkerchief trees. There are also many bushes and shrubs.

The ponds in the far north-west corner of the garden are completely overgrown. The largest pond still exists, although it is in need of renovation. The owners are concerned not to disturb the wild flowers, including flags and snakeshead fritillaries, by their improvements.

The garden has been undergoing extensive renovation since 1985, when the present owners took over occupation. Most of the planting has been done in the last 20 years, and many unusual trees and shrubs have been added recently.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts


The Harford Family

Little Sodbury Manor, BS17 6QA

Little Sodbury was inhabited as a Bronze Age settlement. Embankments remain further up and down the hill on both sides of the manor. Mounds have obviously been levelled in creating the gardens.

The first known house on the site was built in the 1420s by the Stanshaw family, their Great Hall being retained as part of the present house. The site was then approached via a gatehouse to the south.

The property passed to Richard Foster, and from him in 1492 to his son-in-law, John Walsh, who carried out major building works including the building of the Church of St. Adelaine and the creation of the wing to the north-west of the Great Hall. The bowling green was also built around this time. His son, Sir John Walsh, added the large wing with an oriel window to the south of the hall. From 1521 to 1523, Sir John employed William Tyndale, translator of the Bible into English, as chaplain and tutor to his children.

The Walsh family continued in ownership until 1608, when the manor was sold to Thomas Stephens, Attorney General to the King. His son Edward built a new staircase and demolished the gatehouse and outbuildings to the south.

The house was extensively damaged by fire in 1703, and there was a further fire in the north wing in the 18th century. The Stephens family had by this time made many alterations to the interior of the house, adding new windows and a new entrance hall on the north side. The north wing was completely re-modelled in Queen Anne style.

In 1728 the manor passed through the female line to Robert Packer of Donnington Castle, and through his daughter to the Hartley family, who owned it until 1911. From the 1820s the house was not occupied by the family, but let to tenant farmers, and it gradually fell into serious disrepair.

In 1911 the property was sold to the 9th Duke of Beaufort, and then to Lord Hugh Grosvenor, son of the Duke of Westminster. He commissioned Sir Harold Brakspear to restore the building. When Lord Hugh was killed during the First World War, the house was sold back to the Beaufort family. Brakspear continued to work on the restoration of the house and garden.

The new owner was Baron Francis de Tuyll, stepson of the Duke of Beaufort, who lived at Little Sodbury until his death in 1952. After this date the house passed to the Harfords, an old Bristol family who were cousins of the Baron. The present owner, Gerald Harford, inherited the property in 1969, but has only lived there since 1985.

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building

  • Reference: walls and gate piers to sunken garden; garden gateway
  • Grade: II
  • The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building

  • Reference: Little Sodbury Manor
  • Grade: I
  • The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building

  • Reference: stone finials; retaining walls and steps
  • Grade: II


  • Manor House (featured building)
  • Description: The house was built for the Stanshaw family. It was extended in the 15th and 16th centuries and restored in both the 18th and 20th centuries.
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  • Plantation
  • Description: Yews in the churchyard of St Adelaine's Church.
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  • Garden Ornament
  • Description: There is a font from St. Adelaide's church, which is used as a garden ornament. The church once stood behind the house.
  • Kennels
  • Description: There is a stone kennel, probably built in the 17th century when the south gate was the main entrance to the manor.
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  • Summerhouse
  • Description: The summerhouse was built by Harold Brakspear for Baron de Tuyll.
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  • Specimen Tree
  • Description: Specimen trees on this site include blue cedar, copper hazel and a handkerchief tree.
  • Garden Building
  • Description: This feature is the ruin of St. Adelaine's church. Virtually nothing remains of the building, the stone having been used in the building of the present church in Little Sodbury village.
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  • Finial
  • Description: There are two pinnacles from the tower or buttresses of the church.
  • Arch
  • Description: There is an archway designed by Oswald Brakspear, son of Sir Harold, and erected in 1981 as a memorial to Mark Harford, the present owner's father.
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Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential





Open to the public


Civil Parish

Little Sodbury




  • Hilary Larg

  • Avon Gardens Trust