The History of The Round House - Chitterne


The Round House was built in three stages. The two ends, one rounded and one rectangular, are later additions to the older central section. The Royal Commission for Historical Monuments estimated the central section to have been built about 1670-1680.

Plan of the Ground Floor in 1976

This sketch shows the ground floor plan of the house as it was in 1976 with the old lean-to wash house on the left, which was demolished in 1986 to make way for a new extension, and the round end on the right added about 1814. The area shaded black in the centre is the oldest part of the house. The single black line denotes brick partition wall; the dotted line wooden partition wall.

Medieval Layout

The layout of this old central part of the house is very old. The main door opens on to a long passage across the front of the house, with a door to a room beyond the passage wall and doors at either end of the passage leading to two further rooms. There is no back entrance. The central room has a very deep stone built fireplace and stack at one end backing onto the best room. In 1976 The stairs ascended in a straight flight at the western end of the passage between the brick partition wall and a wooden-panelled wall, but it is possible that originally a newel stairway rose in the space to the north of the fireplace marked 'X'. This three room and cross passage type of layout was prevalent in medieval times, and, according to experts, was used rarely in new buildings in Wiltshire by the 16th century. So, did this part of the house originate before 1670-80? Is it possible that the house started off as a medieval hall and a fireplace was added later?

This is just one of the intriguing questions about the house that puzzle me still. There are others:

If the house was just a single cell cottage as mentioned in the listed building report, why does it have high stone walls enclosing part of the property, a wide entrance flanked by stone gateposts and a stable with hayloft for three horses? Were these refinements added at the same time as the round end? If so, why? And for whom?

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