Hellens Manor, also known as Hellens House or simply Hellens and located in the village of Much Marcle in Herefordshire is one of the oldest dwellings in England, currently primarily composed of Tudor style architecture, but some elements may be far older.


The manor was granted to the de Balun family in 1096. The de Baluns were later witness to the signing of the Magna Carta. It later somehow passed to the Mortimers, the most famous of whom was Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, lover of Edward II's wife Queen Isabella, and who is reputed to have arranged for Edward II's murder at Berkeley Castle.

By 1301, it was the property of the family of Hugh Audley who was created the 1st Earl of Gloucester in 1337. Hugh Audley died in 1347, and the control of the manor passed to his nephew, Sir James Audley, a founding knight of the Order of the Garter and companion to Edward, the Black Prince.

Sir James leased it to Walter Helyon, who the property is now named for. A rare wooden effigy of Walter de Helyon [http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/629150] lies in Much Marcle's parish church of St. Bartholomew. Helyon's descendants have resided at the manor nearly continuously since first taking occupancy.


Hellens is a living monument to much of England's history. It contains numerous antiques, including furniture, paintings and other decorations. There are items associated with Anne Boleyn, Mary Tudor, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (Elizabeth I's favourite), Charles I, the Duke of Wharton and of the house's inhabitants over the centuries. Among other items, a pardon for Richard Walwyn from Elizabeth I is displayed.

On one of the window panes of 'Hetty Walwyn's Room', named for Mehitabel, an 18th century occupant confined there by her mother until her death after a failed elopement with a stable hand. An inscription attributed to her which reads "It is a part of virtue to abstain from what we love if it will prove our bain", apparently scratched into a windowpane with a diamond ring, may still be seen. Local legend stats that Walwyn was imprisoned for over thirty years, starting in her 20s, until she eventually committed suicide. Her ghost reputedly still haunts the room.

Another ghost attributed to the house is that of a family priest supposedly killed by Roundheads who were searching the house for its Catholic owner. His ghost is said to reside in a bedroom close to Hetty Walwyn's, a room that once hosted Mary Tudor.

The gardens follow Tudor style architecture [http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/471864] and Jacobean patterns, and include a walled knot garden, a yew labyrinth, and a 17th century octagonal dovecote [http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/65705] . There is also a woodland and pond walk and an old cider mill, which contains family coaches, including a Derby coach. The cider mill is used for its original purpose each autumn.

There is also a restored 16th century barn, which is currently used to host events [http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/65712] & [http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/583341] . It can be rented for use as a theater of 150 seats, as a recording venue, or for weddings or conferences with up to 100 participants.

The house passed through the Pennington-Mellor family, eventually coming into the possession of Malcolm Munthe, the son of Hilda Pennington-Mellor and Axel Munthe. Malcolm Munthe spent much of his later life restoring the house, and another family property, Southside House in London to historic showpiece condition. He wrote a history of the house: "Hellen's, Much Marcle, Herefordshire".

Hellens still serves partly as a residence but primarily as a museum, administered by the Pennington-Mellor-Munthe Charity Trust, and hosting tour groups as well as cultural events such as lectures, concerts, school field-trips, and literary discussions, forming a key part of the cultural life of Much Marcle. In addition to occasional visits from Pennington-Mellor-Munthe family members, a curator/caretaker lives onsite with his family.


* [http://www.hellensmanor.com Hellens Manor website]
* [http://beehive.thisisbristol.com/default.asp?WCI=SiteHome&ID=9538&PageID=53265 Western Daily Press article] from 2002.

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