Rycote House

In the 16th and 17th centuries Rycote was probably the most important estate in Oxfordshire. Lord Williams bought the estate in 1539; prior to his purchase there had been two previous owners, Sir William Fowler, who probably built the original house and Giles Heron.

When Williams bought the estate he combined two existing manors, Rycote Magna and Rycote Park. Henry VIII and Katherine Howard spent part of their honeymoon there in 1540; and Williams brought Princess Elizabeth to Rycote on her way to imprisonment in Woodstock in 1554.

When Williams died in 1559, the estate passed to his daughter Margery who had married Henry Norris. Princess Elizabeth now Queen continued to visit as she held the Norris’s in high regard.

James I must have also liked Rycote as he made visits on at least five occasions between 1612 and 1619; and in 1625 Charles I installed his court there when he reconvened Parliament in Oxford.

By the 18th century the house was owned by the Earls of Abingdon but a fire destroyed most of the Tudor House in 1745. The house was rebuilt in a Georgian style and the  grounds landscaped by Capability Brown. However debts forced the house to be demolished in 1807.

The whole estate was sold to Alfred Hamersley MP in in 1911 and he converted a stableblock into a home. The artist Cecil Michaelis, founder of Rycotewood College owned it from 1935, passing it on to his sons at his death, who sold it to the present owners Sarah and Bernard Taylor in 2000.

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