Athelhampton Hall is a beautiful old manor house with the Great Hall, Marriage Chamber and Solar created in 1485 by Sir William Martyn. It lies beside the river Piddle about 10 miles North East of Dorchester in Dorset.

Athelhampton Manor House The Gardens The Gardens
Athelhamton Manor Athelhampton Gardens Athelhampton Gardens
Athelhampton Hall 2023

From Sir William the house passed to his son Christopher, grandson Thomas and great grandson Robert Martyn. Robert Martyn married Elizabeth Kelway (Kellaway) daughter of Sir John Kellaway of Rockbourne in about 1530. They had one son, Nicholas Martyn. and eight daughters. The stained glass windows throughout the house reflect the Family History of the Martyn Family.

Stained Glass
Martyn and Wives COA.

The windows as seen in this picture show coats of arms of the various Martyn forebears. From left to right we see Martyn-Clevedon, Martyn-Farringdon, Martyn-Cheveral, Martyn-Daubeny, Martyn-Kelway, Martyn-Wadham. Further round to the left there is Martyn-de Londres and Martyn-Pydel.

In other parts of the house there are many stained glass windows showing further marriages and family alliances.

When Robert Martyn died in 1548 he left one son Nicholas and 8 daughters. His wife Elizabeth (Kelway/Kellaway) married Sir John Tregonwell who had a son, Thomas and two daughters by a previous marriage. Thomas Tregonwell married Ann Martyn the youngest of Robert Martyn and Elizabeth(Kelway)′s daughters. They had a son John Tregonwell. The Tregonwell family lived at Milton Abbey which Old Sir John had purchased in 1540 and converted to a private manor house. Sir John acted as commissioner taking the surrenders of monasteries in the west country after the dissolution under Henry VIII.

At Athelhampton Robert′s son Nicholas married Margaret Wadham, Cecily married George Bingham, Katherine married Edward Knoyle and Ann married Thomas Tregonwell. Nicholas Martyn had one son, Christopher, who died young, and four daughters, Eliza who married Henry Brune, Jane who married Tichbourne Chidiock, Frances married Thomas White and Ann married Anthony Floyer. The daughters became the joint heirs to Nicholas Martyn. Nothing went smoothly! Sir John Tregonwell Snr died in 1564 and his son Thomas had predeceased him leaving Young Sir John Tregonwell b.18 Feb 1549 as heir. He was most dissatisfied with his inheritance and accused Old Sir John′s wife Elizabeth of harbouring Catholic Priests, holding secret masses and even witchcraft. SEE Tregonwell-Martyn Disputes However, Elizabeth refuted all attacks and lived on until 1582. Sir Nicholas Martyn then disputed with Young Sir John but John was soon ailing and died not long after. The daughters inherited when Sir Nicholas died in 1595.

The suspicion of secret Catholicism may have been more plausible than one might expect for a woman, and descendents of a woman, married to the protestant Old Sir John Tregonwell.

The husband of Jane Martyn was Tichbourne Chidiock and he was excecuted in 1586 for his involvement in the Babbington Plot to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I and replace her with the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots.

Windows showing the Tregonwell chough, The Tregonwell Arms, Tregonwell impaled Kellaway and the Martyn Ape
Athelhamton Windows
Athelhampton Hall Windows 2023

Stained Glass Windows
Brune-Martyn, Martyn-Kelway, Strangeways-Wadham, Martyn-Wadham, Kellaway, unknown
Athelhamton Windows
Athelhampton Hall Windows 2023

The house passed through various descendents of the Martyn daughters who eventually sold their shares to other families. It passed through periods of preservation and neglect but the present owner is working very hard to restore it to full glory.

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Last updated MARCH 2024
Web Page by Les Haigh. Email: (les.haigh at

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