Penny Churchill March 29, 2023
Britain’s greatest-ever architect, Sir Christopher Wren, was the rector’s son in East Knoyle, where he was born and grew up. And while that even older rectory is now long gone, the Old Rectory that followed it is still there — and now it’s seeking a new owner.
Dr Christopher Wren was rector of the Wiltshire village of East Knoyle for 20 years and it was during that time that his son, the future astronomer, geometrician, physicist, mathematician and architect, was born on October 20, 1632. And up for sale today is East Knoyle’s Old Rectory — but while it pre-dates the great polymath, it’s not the place where Sir Christopher Wren was born.
It seems unbelievable in an age where far lesser places of note merit a turnstile and a giftshop, but (according to local lore) Wren’s actual birthplace was knocked down during a project to widen the road. A plaque stands in the village today, marking the spot where it once stood.
The plaque in East Knoyle is all that’s left of Christopher Wren’s birthplace… though the slightly woolly wording ‘near this spot’ leaves ample room for ambiguity. Credit: Wire723 via WikiCommons
We’ll never know, then, what Wren’s childhood home looked like, but given his future career trajectory there’s every reason to assume that it was just as charming as the current Old Rectory, being sold by Strutt & Parker at £2.5m.
This Grade II-listed property dates back in part to the Tudor period (there is a Tudor arched doorway with transom light); an extension was added in the 1930s by Canon Cross when he moved out of the original rectory.
The size and the level of craftsmanship detailed within suggests The Old Rectory was always intended to be a house of importance. Sold out of Church ownership in 1976, when a parish reorganisation merged those of nearby Hindon, Chicklade and Pertwood, it was bought at that time by the current owners.
They have created what Annabel Blackett of Strutt & Parker’s country department describes as the perfect family home. ‘It’s well suited for modern family life: the internal layout has ample space for entertaining, with a generous dining and drawing room, a quiet library and five good-sized bedrooms.’
A large eat-in kitchen, with units designed by Smallbone of Devizes, sits in the centre.
East Knoyle lies within the Cranborne Chase AONB, about six miles north of Shaftesbury and six miles west of Tisbury. The village has an active community, with various clubs and societies, as well as a church, pub and post office shop (Wren’s Shop) run by village volunteers.
The area has a number of very popular pubs, cafés and delis within easy reach, including the Beckford Arms, on the nearby Fonthill estate, the Grosvenor Arms in Hindon, Pythouse Kitchen Garden, which is set in an 18th-century walled garden in Tisbury, and Compton McRae in nearby Semley. Pythouse is also home to the local tennis club.
Recommended videos for you The Old Rectory is surrounded by an enclosed formal garden of just over an acre that is mainly laid to lawn and woodland, with, to the east, a one-acre paddock — ideal for horses or a smallholding. Also in the garden is a large potting shed and a bothy.
Access to London is via the mainline station at Tisbury, from where trains to Waterloo take one hour 48 minutes.
The Old Rectory in East Knoyle is for sale via Strutt & Parker at £2.5 million — see more details and pictures.
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