Woodperry House Stanton St John

People living in Horton cum Studley or Beckley will have passed Woodperry house many times and wondered who built it and who has lived there.

The building of the house started in 1728 for John Morse, a wealthy London goldsmith and a partner in Childs Bank. Morse was over 60 in 1728 but no expense was spared on the design and decoration. The design of the house is attributed to William Townsend, a leading Oxford mason and architect and who built the Clarendon Building designed by Hawksmoor, also All Souls College, The Queen's College and other Oxford buildings.

The frontage of Woodperry house is similar to the Clarendon Building in the Palladian style. It is known that some of the masonry work at Woodperry was carried out by William King, who served his apprenticeship with Townsend and probably executed parts of All Souls College.

Thomas Fawsett was the principal joiner and Charles Scriven the glazier (Malcolm Airs - The Woodperry House Chimney Piece). Morse also owned a house in Woodstock at the entrance to Blenheim Palace that probably influenced Morse to build a house in the style of Blenheim.

Woodperry House cost 12000 and includes a carved chimneypiece and carved wooden ceilings. In the event, Morse gave up on finishing Woodperry and bought a grander and larger Wooburn House in Buckinghamshire from the estate of the late Duke of Wharton and never lived at Woodperry.

In 1738 it was recorded in a Bishop's visitation that Woodperry found that the house was occupied by no one but the gardener. Morse bequeathed legacies to William Pepall 'my gardener at Woodperry' and his wife, he increased these legacies to 9 each. It appears that Pepall and his wife were living in the house.

The house was held in trust by his banking partners, Sir Francis and Samuel Child for the benefit of Elizabeth Payne his niece. However her marriage to Peregrine Bertie without Morse's consent caused a rift with Morse and led to changes in the will. Morse died in 1739.

Elizabeth did not live in the house and it remained under trust of Childs Bank. The house appeared to have been completed including a painting oil on canvas of Westminster Abbey set in an elaborate overmantel. The painting is signed by an unknown artist

Why Westminster Abbey - it could be a reference to Edward the Confessor who was born in Islip and lands in the area belonged to Westminster Abbey. The elaborate chimneypiece was added with a fireplace in 1748.  The painting incorporates a spire that was designed by Sir Christopher Wren but never built. However the design for the spire was put forward by John of Islip then Abbot of Westminster in the early 16th century.

The house was enlarged in1879-80 when the porch and two pedimented wings were added; designed by Frederick Codd an assistant in T G Jackson's office.

The house was described in an advertisement in 1789 as "a modern stone-built edifice, completely finished, comprising of a spacious hall, two parlours, with a dressing room, four handsome bedrooms over and six in the attic storey, servant's lodgings and every other convenient attached and detached office, with colennades (sic); also stabling, coach-house etc. fit for the reception of a genteel family.