The History of Putson Manor


  Putson Manor was originally the Palace of the first Bishop of Hereford, Bishop Putta, 670 AD. Putta's Ton (dwelling) became Putterston and eventually Putson. The present house is thought to stand on the site of the original house which extended out towards the river from the wall containing the two small cupboards in the Turquoise bedroom. This stone wall is thought to be much older than the Tudor part of the building and the two cupboards would originally have been windows, and then wig cupboards.
King Harold 1022-1066
 




The main part of the house was built by Richard Clements in approximately 1580-1590. His initials are carved at the foot of the stone jambs of the Dining Room fireplace. There are also traces of his initials on the oak jambs on each side of the old door leading into the cobbled courtyard. At this time in history wolves still roamed the heavily wooded forests surrounding the house. The side of the house facing the sunken garden was altered about 150 to 200 years ago. If you look at the house from outside you can see that the timbering of the upper story is close, whereas the ground floor timbering is widely spaced. If you stand in the loggia outside the back door and look up you will see two brackets and carved supports of the original overhanging upper storey which would have run the full length of the south-east side of the house. It is still there behind the later framework.
 

In the stairway from the Hall down to the cellar you can see the joiner's marks at the junction of the timber framework showing how the house was erected in pieces before finally being assemble in situ. On the half-timbered wall on the upper half of the staircase you can see the remains of the original staircase which was in the open with a lean-to roof, similar to that at Stokesay Castle, near Ludlow. At the top of the staircase is an original opening with a four-centred arch.

When Putson Manor came on the market again at the end of World War II it still had ecclesiastical carvings along the beams but unfortunately the previous owner removed most of them when he left leaving only the two carved angels at the foot of the stairs. You can still see the pale marks on the upstairs beams where the other carvings hung.

 
The panelling and fireplace rescued from Rotherwas Hall which dates back to 1611. It is now on permanent exhibition at the Mead Art Museum in Massachusetts.
The fireplace in the Dining Room was made from the bell supports from a medieval church in Sidmouth. Acacia House next door to Putson was the home farm when Putson Manor Estate extended over hundreds of acres and the magnificent stone fireplace in the main living room of Acacia House was said to have been taken from the Dining Room of Putson when the Manor was little more than tenements many years ago.

At one time Putson Manor and all the surrounding property became part of the later and much larger house Rotherwas Court, since demolished by the government when they bought the ground for the Munitions Works. The chapel of this mansion still exists. Rotherwas Court was last lived in by Count Lubienski, who later went on to live at Bullingham Manor. Rotherwas Court was also the home of the Delabere de Bodenham family who had lived on this site in various houses since the 15th century.
  In the old court records of the city there is an entry about 1612 stating that a man fell into the river near the Manor House of Putson Mynor and was drowned - "The body was viewed by twelve persons, including Richard Clements, gent of the Manor House, also by Roger Pugh, butcher, he know most."

There is an original Tudor door up in the attic, leading into the room above the Panelled bedroom. The bell on the gable end of the south-east of the house was operated by a cord from the Panelled bedroom. It was rung to summon the men to unload the barges which docked at the old wharf as well as telling the men working in outlying parts of the estate that the working day was over.

In 1925 Mr Adamson bought the house and began a programme of restoration such as exposing the original Tudor fireplaces which had been hidden behind later Georgian and Victorian fire surrounds. He also extended the house out towards the river to create the kitchen. During this work the builders removed three to four feet of stonework from the chimney breast and found a stone head which Mr Adamson had fixed above the door leading down into the cellar from the courtyard. Over time frost damage destroyed the face but the British Museum thought it probably dated from 12th or 13th century and represented the popular Green Man image of that time.

Hereford 1600. Putson Manor can be seen on the lower right part of the view on the opposite side of the river to the walled city of Hereford.
  While the Adamsons were restoring the house, they received two letters, one from the Dean of Hereford and one from the Abbot of Belmont. These letters indicated that if during the course of the work on the house they came across certain pieces of gold plate or Church Plate, these were to be restored to them but ownership of the Plate was hotly contested.

Originally the Cathedral has been Roman Catholic, but the Dean of Hereford maintained that during the Civl war in 1645 the city had been besieged by a Scottish army in service of Parliament and, afraid that the city would fall before help came, the citizens blew up the arch of the old Wye Bridge nearest the town (you can still see where it has been rebuilt and strengthened), and the Bishop ordered that all the Gold Plate belonging to the Cathedral should be put in a safe place. Half was buried beneath the flagstone of the aisle floor, and the other half was taken by boat at night down the river to Putson Manor (then an ecclesiastical property) and hidden somewhere in the house. Unfortunately the men who carried out this work were killed in the siege and since then various people have tried to find the Plate without success. Eventually the Church sold the house and it passed out of their hands.
  Investigating the Hidden Vault 1950
  In 1950 the house was owned by a Mr Lee who believed he had solved the mystery. He wrote: "I have done some investigation with regard to the above and I have strong suspicions that there are cellar or vaults beneath the main block of the house. It will be noticed in the Reception Room in the South West corner that the floor is slightly barrel shaped, being particularly noticeable in the varying depth of the skirting board. The same will be noticed in the room in the North East corner, containing the Fireplace with Richard Clement's initials. Also, if one examines the inner wall of the existing cellar by looking closely along it, it will be seen that there appears to be an opening which has been built up. However, the thickness of the floor above the existing cellar, and the low head room, would make the floor of this cellar much above that of any vaults beneath the other part of the house, the reason for this being that in addition to the depth of the massive joist of the floors of the two aforementioned rooms, together with the stonework of the vaulting, would amount to at least three feet to three feet six inches. Therefore the vaults (if they exist) would be about two feet below the existing cellar with regard to floor level. On one occasion we had some floorboards up near the window inthe Dining Room (South West Room) and below the huge oak baulks which supported the floor boards, and buried under a layer of about 12 inches of dry sandy soil, was a flooring of small square stone, approximately 10 inches square - these looked very like the upper surface of typical vaulting stones. It seems obvious that the doorway leading to the Still Room to the right of the fireplace has been cut through at a later date, and before we had the new steps put in to replace the former rough ones, there were distinct signs of steps leading downwards in the opposite direct, this beneath this room. It would seem possible, therefore, that this was the main entrance to the vaults. If an attempt was to be made to find these vaults, I would suggest either taking down a section of the inner wall of the existing cellar (near the floor to avoid cutting into the roof of the vaulting) or a deep excavation in the Greenhouse, well behind the original overhang of the South West Facade, as the false wall built up under the overhang would obviously have shallow foundations being nothing to do with the original building. If the excavation showed the wall going down to say 8 or 9 feet, one could safely assume that the vaults did exist and feel more inclined to take some more positive action regarding breaking in."
  Investigating the Hidden Vault 2009
  During the refurbishment the previous owners had to investigate the treasure. In fact, the floor of the Dining Room was in a very poor state, a number of the joists had crumbled away to dust and the floor boards had a worrying springiness to them. The whole floor was taken up and repaired. The builders dug down almost two foot through the soil and found no evidence of a vaulted roof. They also drilled investigative holes at angles downwards but found no void beneath the Dining Room floor.