Tackley Park


Location   Tackley
Year demolished   1959  
Reason   Main house demolished, service range converted into house  
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Text written by, and copyright of, Nicholas Kingsley - many thanks

The estate at Tackley Park (also known as Hill Court) can be traced from as early as 1242, when it belonged to Alexander Doville. It passed by marriage from the Dovilles to the Nowers family in the mid 14th century, and again in the early 16th century from the Nowers to the Aylworths. In 1612, Thomas Aylworth sold the manor to John Harborne (d. 1651), a London merchant, who built a new manor house north-east of the church in about 1615. It may have been abandoned or partially destroyed before 1645 when Tackley was 'a waste place', probably because of damage in the Civil War, but Sir Compton Reade, Harborne's lessee, had 13 hearths in 1665, and a great hall and several chambers were recorded in 1671.

John Harborne was succeeded by his son of the same name (d. 1671), who in 1653 sold the house of Hill Court while retaining the Tackley estate. The purchaser in 1653 was Richard Cranley, from whom it seems to have passed, perhaps by 1659, to John Morton, whose son John Whicker Morton held it in 1689. On his death in 1692 the estate descended to his son (d. 1703), his grandson (fl. 1735), and his great grandson (d. 1780), all called John Morton. The house was greatly enlarged in the mid 18th century, presumably by the last John Morton, producing a new five bay, three storey front with older work evident behind in the one known engraving of the house. This view and contemporary maps also suggest that the grounds were landscaped, with a long serpentine lake, perhaps at the same time as the house was remodelled. An orangery near the entrance gate also survives.

John Morton's widow, Elizabeth, sold the house in 1784 to Barbara Smythe. She was succeeded by her cousin Sir John Whalley Smythe Gardiner (d. 1797), by his son, James Whalley Smythe Gardiner (d. 1837), and by James's son John Brocas Whalley Smythe Gardiner. He sold Hill Court in 1846 to William Evetts, who had occupied the house as a tenant since 1840. He was succeeded by another William Evetts, perhaps his son, who in 1905 repurchased the Tackley estate from the Dashwood family, who had owned it since 1744. The reunited property was sold in 1927 to R.W. Cooper, who sold it in 1953 to Harald Peake, chairman of Lloyds Bank, who was knighted in 1973. He demolished most of the house in 1959, retaining only an early 18th century part of the building and some of the outbuildings, which were converted into flats. His widow, Air Commodore Dame Felicity Peake (1913-2002) was the owner of Tackley Park in 1981, and it now belongs to their son, Andrew Peake (b. 1956), for whom some work may have been done to remodel the surviving part of the house into a new residence.