Who lived at Mompesson House?
Mompesson House was built in 1701 by Charles Mompesson. Over the next 250 years a succession of different families lived in the house. Today we’re continuing their legacy.
A building where the existing house now stands was leased to Thomas Mompesson by the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury Cathedral in 1635.
Charles Mompesson rebuilt the house you see today in 1701. He was MP for Old Sarum, a notorious ‘rotten borough’ with an electorate of only ten. He married Elizabeth Longueville in 1703 and they lived at Mompesson until his death in 1714.
Elizabeth Longueville continued to live in the house until her death in 1751 but surrendered the lease of Mompesson House to her brother Charles. He moved into Mompesson in the 1730s and in the 1740s added the magnificent plasterwork, staircase and brick wing. He also created the Large Drawing Room as a grand space for entertaining.
When Charles Longueville died in 1750 the lease reverted back to Elizabeth, who granted it to Charles’s natural son John Clark on condition that it passed on his death to her friend ‘Mrs Thomas Hayter of Salisbury’. In 1753 Mrs Hayter bought out John Clark and her family lived here for two generations. As far as we know the Hayter family made few changes to the house.
In 1802 the Portman family bought the lease to the house. Mompesson was home to three sisters, Ann, Henrietta and Wyndham, and their widowed mother, Anne. They renewed the sash-windows and converted the study (now the Library) into pantries.
In 1843 George Barnard Townsend bought the lease. His family lived here until his eldest daughter Barbara Townsend died in 1939 at the age of 96.
The Bishop of Salisbury
In 1946 the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury Cathedral sold the freehold of the house to the Church Commissioners. The house then became the residence of the Bishop of Salisbury until 1951. However it proved to be unsuitable and the house was sold.
Denis Martineau bought the house in 1952. He was a London-based architect and used it as his weekend home. A condition of the sale was that on his death it passed to the National Trust.
The National Trust
Denis Martineau died in 1975 and the contents of the house were dispersed. The National Trust redecorated and refurnished the house as it might have been in its Georgian heyday and the house opened to the public in 1977.