People of Avebury Manor

Alexander Keiller the 'marmalade millionaire' © NT

Alexander Keiller the 'marmalade millionaire'

From politicians to globetrotters and horticulturalists to archaeologists, Avebury Manor in Wiltshire has been home to many fascinating people. The BBC series, 'The Manor Reborn' uncovers some new tales about the families who lived here during four periods of history.

Tudor commuter William Dunch was an auditor of the London Mint who bought the house for £2,200 in 1551. After the death of William's son Walter, his widow, Debora, married the High Sheriff of Wiltshire in the late 1590s.

Queen Anne
In 1692 a Master in Chancery, Sir Richard Holford, bought Avebury for £7,500 from the Stawell family. By tradition Queen Anne was supposed to have dined with Sir Richard at the Manor, possibly on her way to Bath.

The well-travelled Governor of Jamaica, Adam Williamson, took over the house in the late 18th century. He died after suffering ‘a violent fall’ (probably a stroke) in the dining room. Williamson's travels have been used to inspire the décor of the large, light Palladian room – think lush golden gilding and bold paint colours.

Victorian and early 20th century
Restoration enthusiasts Lieutenant Colonel Leopold and Mrs Nora Jenner lived at Avebury for more than twenty years at the start of the 20th century. They lovingly restored much of the house, including the library, and created the topiary garden on show today. Vita Sackville-West visited the Jenners here in the 1920s then wrote to her husband about how much she wanted the house.

In the 1930s, Alexander Keiller (pictured here), ‘marmalade millionaire’ and archaeologist, lived in the Manor. He made valuable contributions to the archaeology and preservation of the megalithic circle and converted the Manor stables into a museum in which many of his finds are still housed. He held cocktail parties for his friends and field staff and lived a glamorous life. He sold the stone circle and museum to us in the 1940s.