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Libary (ante-room to music room) Stained glass window in organ alcove Stained glass window, 1st Bay (Spring) Stained glass window, 3rd Bay (Autumn) "Adam & Eve" center mosaic on floor Mammal mosaic (Goat) Mammal mosaic (Rabbit) Mammal mosaic (Lion) Bird mosaic (Duck) Bird mosaic Fish mosaic roundel Bird mosaic (Cockerel) Mosaic roundel (Bumble Bee) Mosaic roundel (Fly) Mosaic roundel (Ladybird) Mosaic roundel (Grasshopper) Mosaic roundel (Bug) Big Hall with marbled pillars

WOOLHANGER MANOR AND MUSIC ROOM – POST WAR HISTORY

Woolhanger Manor and Music room were owned by Captain Sam Slater from 1907 when he bought them from Sir Henry Carew until he sold them in 1946 to Major and Mrs Tayler. Soon after they bought the property Major and Mrs Tayler held a grand ball in the Music Room to celebrate their daughter Molly’s twenty-first birthday. Eye-witness reports tell of an orchestra for the dancing with fires blazing in both of the huge fire places.

The Taylers lived at the Manor until the 1960s when they sold it to Professor Raymond Carr, an Oxford don, and his wife Sarah, who used it as a holiday home – not everyone’s idea of a “holiday cottage”, as the Manor house had more than 35 rooms! Since it was not their main residence and they had busy lives in Oxford, maintenance was not top of their list of priorities and this is the period when the buildings began a serious decline. A friend of the Carrs reported going to a drinks party at the Manor and when he told his host that there was water dripping from the ceiling the Professor reputedly said that they’d have to move to another room (there were plenty to choose from) for the drinks, but the impression was that there was no question of repairing the leaking roof. And so the rot set in and by the time Woolhanger Manor and Music Room were sold by Professor Carr in 1981 they were in a sorry state. They were then bought by Mr and Mrs Robert Brindle, who it is said had a sort of commune there. Although he was a builder by trade Mr Brindle did nothing to repair the property and also sold the sixteen stained glass windows depicting composers and writers which had been in the top tier of the four bays of windows in the Music Room since Henry Carew had commissioned them in the early 1890s. After that the other, plainer, bays of lights became fair game for pot shots and the Music Room was open to the elements from all sides. Meanwhile, because of the leaking room, the floor boards rotted and any that were left taken and reputedly used for pig-sties.

In 1987 Robert Brindle sold to Mr G.F.C. Mellstrom, who had owned Woolhanger Farm with many more acres since 1972. About a year later Mr Mellstrom sold the Manor and Music Room with only two acres to Mr and Mrs Brian Lowry, keeping the rest of the land to add to his estate.

In 1989 Woolhanger Manor and Music Room with two acres was bought from the Lowrys by Anthony and Julia Eve. At this time the Music Room had only just been listed (1989) but the Manor was not. They set about trying to save the house and music room from further decay, doing much of the work themselves. To start with they felted, battened and re-slated the roof of the house and at the same time spent much time getting rid of the dry rot which had infested the house. Most of the wood panelling and mouldings had to be removed but once the rot was cleared they had the woodwork copied and replaced in an attempt to restore the house to how it was. They re-plastered and redecorated in keeping and lived there for twelve years, using the very old buildings at the back as a store for their bookselling business.

Meanwhile the Eves also turned their attention to the Music Room. Not long after their arrival the huge wooden lintel spanning the arch between the Music Room and the adjacent ante-room collapsed, and that end of the building was in danger of falling down. A builder was employed to build a sturdy supporting wall with a smaller opening. The Music Room was thereafter approached through double old church doors which are still in place. Soon after this, the lintel above one of the four bays of windows began to give and that had to be replaced in order to stop the window from falling in. The next project was to replace the 48 leaded lights. A quote for doing this from a stained glass professional proved to be unaffordable so, determined to get the job done, Julia learned how to do it herself. Now the top tiers contain roundels of seasonal flowers and the lower two tiers in each bay have been matched to what was there before – the middle tier consisting of pale pink and pale green diamonds of coloured glass, and the bottom rectangles in the same colours. A grant was received from Exmoor National Park Authority which paid for the materials.

The roof was a major problem because of its height and awkwardness of access. Some small coloured windows had to be replaced too in the “lantern” at the top. The roof was felted, battened and re-slated, and the organ alcove was made water-tight with fibre glass to replace the missing lead. Finally, the floor was levelled with concrete and later Julia covered this with a huge mosaic depicting animals, birds and insects.

In 1996, while all this restoration work was going on, Graham Mellstrom applied for planning permission to demolish the Woolhanger Manor house. Permission was granted by Exmoor National Park Planning Committee, but as the house was by this time listed Grade II as well as the Music Room, permission had to be obtained to get the listing waived. There was a public enquiry in Lynton town Hall in 1997 which lasted two and a half days. The Inspector reported in favour of the status quo, insisting that on no account should Woolhanger Manor be demolished.

In 1998 Julie Eve’s daughter Jessica married. She and her husband Roger celebrated their wedding with a dinner and dancing in Woolhanger music Room. Mains electricity was not connected at this time and the place was lit by flares in sconces on the walls and candles on the tables. It was a very splendid occasion.

In 2001, changing circumstances, advancing years and limited resources caused Anthony and Julia Eve to decide to sell. And so, Woolhanger Manor and its splendid Music Room were bought by Graham Mellstrom who has now restored the Music Room magnificently to its former glory.

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