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Home > New Search > Guys Cliffe House (Guy's Cliffe) (Guys Cliff)

Guys Cliffe House (Guy's Cliffe) (Guys Cliff)  England 
Leek Wootton, between Warwick and Old Milverton, Warwickshire, England

Started 1751
Completed 1898

Status: Shell
Details: Roof fallen in by 1966; severely damaged in 1992 fire.

Special Info / Location/ Date

Special Info
Phonetic Pronunciation of House Name

District Today
 Historic County
 City / Town / Village
Leek Wootton, between Warwick and Old Milverton

Start Date
Completion Date
Circa Date

The House from the circa 1880 book Morris's County Seats

Click on thumbnail for a larger view

The House from the circa 1880 book Morris's County Seats
Guy's Cliff Mill from an early 20th century postcard

Designed   Alterations and additions to House for Lord Charles Bertie Percy
Date   Circa 1871

Designed   House for Samuel (Bertie) Greatheed
Date   1751
Attribution of this work is uncertain.

Extant / Listed / References

Extant Type
Extant Details
Roof fallen in by 1966; severely damaged in 1992 fire.

House Listed As 
Grade II
Gardens Listed As  
Grade II
Country House:  Yes

Vitruvius Britannicus
Vitruvius Scoticus
J.B. Burke (Burke's Visitation of Seats)
Vol. I, p. 255, 1852.
Country Life
I, 154, 1897.
J.P. Neale (Neale's Views of Seats)
Vol. IV, 1821.
Access / Ownership / Seat

Open to Public Please note: Houses listed as being open "By Appointment" are usually country house hotels, B&Bs, or schools.
Historic Houses Association Member
Phone Number If calling from the U.S., delete the first "0" in British numbers.
Fax Number

Current Ownership
Current Ownership Type
Primary Current Ownership Use
Current Ownership Use / Details

Seat ("Seat" is loosely defined as any family that occupied the house for a period of 2 years or more)
Today Seat of
A Past Seat(s) of
Samuel (Bertie) Greatheed, 18th century. Lord Charles Bertie Percy, 19th century. Lord Algernon Malcolm Arthur Percy, early 20th century. Aldwyn Porter, mid-20th century.
Possible (Unsure) Seat of
History / Gardens & Park / Movies

Earlier House(s) / Building(s)
House Replaced By
Built / Designed For
House & Family History
Since at least Saxon times the site of Guys Cliffe has been occupied. Its name supposedly comes from the famous romantic figure Guy of Warwick, believed to have lived in the 10th century, who is said to have retired to a hermitage on the site, leading to the founding of the chantry, parts of which are still extant in today’s Chapel. Piers Gaveston, the notorious favorite of Edward II, sought refuge and was (allegedly) apprehended at Guys Cliffe before his execution on nearby Blacklow Hill at Leek Wootton. The house at Guys Cliffe, dramatically situated on an outcropping of rock, was begun 1751 in a Palladian style for Samuel (Bertie) Greatheed, a West India merchant and Member of Parliament for Coventry between 1747 and 1761. The seven-bay classical Palladian style stone front was probably built to the designs of William Hiorn and featured a rusticated basement, with dormers over the central section and pediments over the end projections. In the 19th century there were significant alterations to the House, some of it possibly the work of the architect John Gibson. The Hall was noted for its fine Rococo plasterwork, now lost, though photos of this beautiful space are in the collection of the NMR (National Monuments Record). Through Samuel Greatheed’s daughter, the Estate passed to the Percy family (it was Lord Charles Bertie Percy who was responsible for the 19th century alterations and additions to the House). On May 21, 1915, during the Great War, Lord Algernon Malcolm Arthur Percy gave part of Guys Cliffe House over to the British Red Cross to be used as a Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital. Several rooms, including the Dining Room, Drawing Room, and Music Room, were converted for use as a rest and recuperation center for injured servicemen, a purpose the House served until Dec 19, 1918 (during this time 663 servicemen were cared for at Guys Cliffe). During World War II Guys Cliffe was vacated by the family and let to the Waifs and Strays Society, who used the House as a boys’ home between Nov 1939 and May 1945. Death duties forced the family to sell the contents in an auction in 1946 (an auction catalog was commissioned by Captain Josceline Reginald Heber-Percy and Lady Katherine Louisa Victoria Percy, the last family occupants of Guys Cliffe House). In 1947 the family sold the House and decamped to their other seat, Hodnet Hall, in Shropshire. The new owners intended to convert the House into a hotel, but this was never realized, and Guys Cliffe began its long, slow decline. On Jul 23, 1952 the firm of Robinson, Osbourne & Moules held an auction of the fixtures and fittings of the House (there was also a catalog for this sale); architectural historians have referred to the 1952 auction as “an act of legalized vandalism.” It was certainly the final straw in the death spiral of the House. In 1955 Guys Cliffe was purchased by Aldwyn Porter, who leased the Chapel to the Freemasons. By 1966 the roof had fallen in, and in 1974 the fittings and lead from the roof were sold. In 1992 Granada Television purposely set fire to Guys Cliffe while filming an episode of "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” entitled “The Last Vampyre;” the fire scene got out of control and seriously damaged the House. In 2004 a proposal to demolish the remains of Guys Cliffe House and build a small hotel on the site for senior Freemasons was submitted to the local council (the Freemasons still use the Chapel for Masonic ceremonies). SAVE Britain's Heritage and other preservation groups have resisted the demolition request, arguing that some parts of the House are eminently salvageable.
Collections This field lists art objects that are currently or were previously in the collection of the house.

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Death duties forced the family to sell the contents in a 1946 auction, for which there was a published catalog. On July 23, 1952 the firm of Robinson, Osbourne & Moules held an auction of the fixtures and fittings of the House (there was also a catalog for this sale).

Gardens & Park
Garden, Park, Follies and Outbuildings
Guy's Cliff Mill, which stands across the river from the House, is on the site of an 11th century mill. The Grade II-listed mill is today The Saxon Mill Restaurant (see photo in "Images" section).
Chapel & Church
Partially hewn into the great outcropping of rock, the 15th century Grade II* Chapel, established in 1422 as the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene, is extant and to the right of the Palladian front of the House. It was Church property until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, when the site passed into private ownership. The Chapel today has a late 18th century front and features a large statue of Guy of Warwick in the interior. In 1955 it was leased to the Freemasons, who continue to use it today (2010) for Masonic ceremonies. The original rock-carved storehouses and Stables, built as supporting structures for the Chapel, are also extant.

Location for Movies / TV
"Sherlock Holmes: The Last Vampyre" (1993 - TV movie, as the ruined ancestral home of John Stockton).

There are no references associated with this house.

There are no documents associated with this house.

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