A house of two families

View of the Great Chamber at Lytes Cary Manor

The Manor was home to the Lytes family for several centuries before they left and it fell into disrepair. The Jenner’s then bought Lytes Cary in 1907 and rescued it from decay.

The Lyte’s family
The story starts with William le Lyte, who was a feudal tenant of the estate as early as 1286. He paid an annual rent of 10 shillings or the contents of a swan’s nest on the River Cary.  It is believed that it was his grandson, Peter, who built the Chapel in 1343.  

Six generations of the Lyte family lived at the Manor and the house was gradually expanded over time.  The Great Hall was constructed in 1447 by Thomas Lyte and the south wing, kitchens and outhouses were added by 1533 by John Lyte and his wife, Edith.

Henry Lyte inherited the estate in 1558.  He was a devotee of botany and genealogy, and published the Niewe Herbal in 1578.  A copy of the Herbal, which Henry dedicated to Queen Elizabeth, can be seen in the Great Hall.

Henry's son, Thomas, was also very academic. He traced the family tree of James I.  When the King found out he was a direct descent of Brutus, the traditional founder of the Roman Republic, he was so delighted that he presented Thomas with a miniature of himself set in a locket of gold and diamonds.

By the mid eighteenth century though, the family was in serious financial difficulty and in 1755 they had no other option but to sell Lytes Cary.  During the following 150 years the Manor was tenanted and fell into disrepair.

The Jenner Family
Sir Walter Jenner and his wife, Flora, bought the house in 1907.  When they arrived the Great Hall was being used as a cider press, the Great Parlour was housing agricultural materials and the Little Parlour was a carpenter’s workshop.

They saw its potential through the decay; restoring the house in a 17th century style and adding on a new west wing. The house as it stands today is filled with the collection that Jenner’s used when they lived there.
Sir Walter decided to pass the house and estate to the National Trust in 1948. His daughter, Esme, had died of pneumonia at the age of only 37 and there was no other family to leave the Manor to.