history of Court House Farm
It is believed that Edward Morgan, a wealthy merchant, built the tower so as to keep an eye on his ships as they sailed the channel. Some still regard it as a perfect lookout...
Of course there are many other theories, including various about the hidden tunnel which either runs from Court House farm to the 12th Century Saint Peter's Church next door, or to a well known hostelry in the high street. (Ssshhh! We can confirm that the tunnel really does exist, although sadly it is currently filled in).
There is still much else to uncover (and, yes, one day we'll dig out the tunnel), but what we do know is that the land Court House Farm and its neighbour Springfield Farm (now one) sit on is, according to experts, a classic medieval site. The small Manor House dates from this period and was probably very much larger originally as its early timber elements are now long gone. The bigger attached Tower House once a Court House, dates from the Tudor period and its Hexagonal Tower is a later ‘flamboyant' addition in the 1800s.
During our short association with Court House Farm we have come across some lovely memories. It seems that the delightful Gertie Gale and her family who had the farming tenancy from the early 1900's until just nine years ago were a hugely important part of the Portishead community and brought much joy to many local people. Her niece, relatives, past residents and local characters have told us many stories which at some point are definitely worthy of turning into a theatre production!
In the meantime there is still much to do. After Gertie died the buildings began to fall into serious disrepair until the site was purchased at auction by the Spittalfields Trust. Having kept the house and outbuildings watertight and mowed the meadows for more than a few years, the trust felt they had done their bit and so we took up the challenge.
It certainly wasn’t in our plans to take on this enormous renovation programme, but it seems ‘The Manor’ (as some people know it), had other ideas: it needed ‘someone' ‘to bring it back to life and use.
It is slow progress, but so far we have sensitively renovated the stunning larger Tudor 'Tower House’ (during which we discovered that, astonishingly, our heating engineer, Ben Chappell, is a descendant of the Chappell's who lived at Court House Farm in the 1600's), made good many of the outbuildings and the overall site itself, including the land and gardens.
This year we aim to continue our efforts with the renovation of the little Manor House and create stunning new gardens using annuals and climbers. Watch this space, as we hope you can join us as Court House Farm, 'The Manor’, comes alive again.