Kirby Manor

Kirby Manor, here on the extreme left, in about 1900.
The shop end of the house when it was Ashwell Post Office.

·        There has been a house on this site since 1332, the date of the earliest manor records, though the present house was built around 1600.  It is a half-timber construction, though the front wall was later infilled with brick to give it the appearance of a brick house.

·        According to Cussans (1873), the manor was originally called “Gasselyns” .  It was renamed to Kirkeby or Kirby Manor on the death of John Kirkeby on 18th October 1443, as it was inherited by his daughter, thus allowing the family name to continue.

·        The manor was, later in the 15th Century, granted to the masters and fellows of St John’s college, Cambridge who owned it until 1877.  They must have built the existing house which, along with the 120 acres of land making up the estate, was let to various tenants.

·        In the 18th Century, Kirby Manor was let to the Hart family, who were the tenants when the manor and house were professionally surveyed for St John’s college in 1794.  The map produced is one of the earliest maps of Ashwell and the plan of the house is almost exactly as it is today.  A plan of another house belonging to the manor was also drawn by the surveyor.  This house later became the village museum.

·        When Ashwell was enclosed in 1877, the new farmhouse, built in Northfields where the new land was allocated, was let to Mr R. Chandler Merry and the house was sold to the Christie family (the Hart family, but inherited through the female line).  It was sold by the Christies in the 1960s.

·        The shop at the corner of the house has had several functions, having been (among other things) the old Post Office, a newspaper shop and a dental surgery.  From October to December it is now a charity Christmas Card shop.  The original Ashwell telephone exchange was situated in what is now the kitchen, and the garden has been a coal yard and mineral water bottling plant.

·        For the last 18 years, the house has been the family home of the Chandler family.

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