A Biography of an English Country House
- Jennie Elias
15th December 2022
Zeals, an English Country Manor House in Wiltshire, was filled with life, dogs, books, flowers and a grand piano in the Great Hall. It was a house for landed gentry, but is now on Historic England’s ‘At Risk’ register.
This fascinating house has a rich history. Charles II took refuge at Zeals on his flight to the coast and a family member was beheaded by Oliver Cromwell for daring to confront his parliamentary troops. The house has medieval origins, but there were later additions – predominately those from the nineteenth century by Victorian architect George Devey, as well as earlier changes in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Chafyn-Grove family, later Troyte-Bullock inheriting in a sideways move, lived at Zeals for 500 years until the mid-twentieth century, when the fate of the estate mirrored that of many others in England.
Jennie Elias charts the joys and tragedies of generations of Zeals residents, with characters ranging from haughty to charming; eccentric to prejudiced. There were failures through political levelling down and cultural change, but also of their own making. This definitive history also explores and celebrates the architecture of Zeals.