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King Charles II’s house goes up for sale

A house that King Charles II once lived in is being put up for sale for the first time in over 600 years.

Malmesbury House, in Cathedral Close Salisbury, was once owned by Charles II. It has now been put up for sale at the ‘bargain’ price of £5 million. This piece of architectural history was used in for about a year 1665 by the ‘Merrie Monarch’ to escape a bout of Plague in London.


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Originally built in 1416 on the site of 13th century Copt Hall, the country pile was owned by High Sheriff Sir George Vaughan, where he raised troops for Charles I’s Royalist cause during the Civil War of 1642-1651. Malmesbury was then taken over by the aristocratic Harris family in 1660, and remained in the family for 3 centuries. James Harris III had the house extended by renowned architect Sir Christopher Wren, making it what it is today.  In 1800, James Harris IV became the 1st Earl of Malmesbury and the house’s name was changed in his honour.

Boasting 9 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms over 7638 sq ft, the house’s history only adds to the value. Charles II  was known to address the crowds from the oriel window. The window, which features the Caroline Royal Coat of Arms and is still part of the Grade I listed building today; Baroque composer George Handel, friend of James Harris III, played his first English concert in its music room. 

In 1685, a summer-house at Malemsbury is said to have been the refuge of the Duke of Monmouth, one of Charles II’s illegitimate children, after the Battle of SedgemoorMalmesbury also features a reception hall, drawing room, study, a library and large garden with orangery, with a mostly Queen Anne design, featuring some rococo and baroque interiors.

Charles II lived at Malmesbury House to escape the Plague in 1665

Charles II lived at Malmesbury House to escape the Plague in 1665

In 2006, English Heritage stepped in to help pay for the extensive restoration work, due to the building’s Grade I status. Work included fixing a leaking roof and a number of uninhabited rooms, which had deteriorated.

Charlie Stone, from Savills, told the Daily Mail: “The Cathedral Close is one of the most desirable places to live in outside London. It is an urban setting, but it is the best of both worlds. It is country and town in one setting. I have sold a number of homes in the close, but the architectural quality of Malmesbury House’s interior is exceptional.”

photo credit: (C) Patrick Baty, via photopin cc & Lynn (Gracie’s mom) via photopin cc

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