The Cornwell estate covers a stunning area of untouched English countryside that lies between Chipping Norton and Stow-on-the Wold, (a designated area Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Much of the estate is farmed, but there are also two wetland areas, lakes, woods and a number of spring fed streams.
At it’s centre of the estate is the small hamlet of Cornwell, which is mentioned in the Domesday Book, (11th century ). There is also a small church, hidden in the grounds, which dates back to the Norman era
The original Manor house, belonging to the Penyston family is Jacobean. Built on the proceeds of the once lucrative Cotswold wool trade. Probably a large farm house for the local land owner. In the late 17th century a Georgian façade was added to gentrify the house. The new wing added formal rooms for entertaining downstairs, and provided grandeur guest rooms upstairs.
An American heiress, Mrs Anthony Gillson, bought the house before the second world war, as a family home. She wanted to renovate and beautify both house and village so hired the services of Clough Williams-Ellis, the architect who created the Italianate village, Portmeirion, in north Wales. Substantial alterations were made to the house, perfecting its Georgian façade, and transformed the village and giving the gloomy Jacobean cottages pretty Georgian style windows.
Clough Williams-Ellis, also created much of the existing formal and landscaped garden which harnesses a local stream and several springs to create a particularly tranquil garden which acts as the centre piece to the surrounding grounds, lakes and woodland.
Sadly, Mrs Gillson never made Cornwell her home; after her husband was killed serving in the far east, she donated the house to wounded service men and she sold it soon afterwards end war’s end.
The Estate has been with the Ward family since the 1960s and today is the family home of Alexander Ward, who grew up there.