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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 August, 2003, 07:55 GMT 08:55 UK
Oldest occupied house named
Saltford Manor House, near Bristol
The manor was built before 1150
A Somerset manor house dating back before 1150 has claimed the title of Britain's oldest continuously occupied home.

Saltford Manor House, in Saltford, near Bristol, is believed to have been built in the Norman era, and includes a number of features typical of the time.

The house came top of a list of the country's oldest lived-in properties in a survey for Country Life magazine.

Writer Dr John Goodall considered suggestions from readers and national experts - but excluded royal palaces and former church buildings before naming the Saltford house as his choice.

Evidence of age

Present owner James Wynn said: "I was not surprised to find that we were one of half a dozen, but I was surprised that they thought we were the oldest - surprised and pleased.

"It makes me feel part of some extraordinary time line - you can see the history, that is why I love the place," added Mr Wynn, 50, who has lived in the house since 1997 with his wife Anna and their two daughters.

The chosen house had to preserve physical evidence of its age incorporated within it, have always been a house, never fallen totally into ruin and currently be lived in as a house.

Dr Goodall said many properties nominated by readers dated to the 13th and 14th Centuries, but nothing built after about 1200 was seriously in competition for the prize, which excluded any Scottish, Welsh or Irish building.

'Wonderful buildings'

He said the dating of tree rings in timbers used to construct Fyfield Hall in Essex established it had been built in 1178, making it the earliest inhabited domestic timber-framed structure in Britain.

But he said a small number of mid-12th Century stone houses were probably earlier, although some, such as Red House at Little Dean in Gloucestershire were undateable.

Also included in the magazine's top three were Horton Court, Gloucestershire and Hemingford Grey in Cambridgeshire, could be dated to the 1160s and the 1150s respectively.

Jeremy Musson, architectural editor of Country Life, said: "What has impressed me so much in our search is the pride and care which private owners of these houses take with these wonderful buildings."

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