Sulgrave Manor

Among the smaller manors of Northamptonshire none is so well known as Sulgrave, near the Oxfordshire border. Sulgrave Manor is in the village of Sulgrave just off the B4525 road from Banbury to Northampton. It was Lawrence Washington, born at Warton, Lancashire in about 1500, three times mayor of Northampton, who brought Sulgrave, part of an ancient priory, from Henry VIII at the Dissolution.

There the family lived until about 1610 when, their fortunes having declined, they moved to Little Brington. John Washington, grandson of the original owner of Sulgrave, emigrated to America some forty years later to escape persecution by the Puritans and it was his great-grandson who became the first President of the United States. In 1914 the manor house was purchased by public subscription raised on both sides of the Atlantic to celebrate the century of peace between the two great English speaking nations.

stars and stripes in hallway

Did you know ?
Samuel Argall, the step-grandson of Lawrence Washington who built the Manor, sailed to Virginia in 1609 and went on to kidnap Pocahontas. As deputy governor of Virginia from 1617 to 1619 he distinguished himself by many acts of tyranny.

The house was possibly three times bigger than the current house but quite early on, it was left to degenerate. Repairs by subsequent owners used the stone from the ruins of the wings to keep a house on this land. John Hodges built the North wing in this way around 1700. During the 18th and 19th centuries, few changes were made to the building except for minor repairs and it had diminished in size considerably over the years. During the late 1800’s it was described as “a common farm house" and “little more than a quaint and interesting ruin." which just consisted of two wings at right angles to one another.

It was purchased by the British Peace Centenary Committee in 1914, being funded from both sides of the Atlantic. Except for heating and electricity, the lack of improvement meant that the house retained a claim to authenticity to which few others of its age can lay claim. Any superficial traces made by previous owners were largely eradicated by 1920 when it first opened to the public. Since then the house has undergone restoration to try to return it to its original glory. It now boasts the largest UK collection of George Washington memorabilia showing the British relationship to the origins of the USA.