the merchant's house
Time to visit the historic Merchant’s House, Marlborough’s most cherished historic site
On the north side of Marlborough’s famously wide High Street stands one of the town’s most cherished buildings – The Merchant’s House.
Over three hundred and fifty years old, the historic property is an extremely rare old gabled house rebuilt after the Great Fire of Marlborough in 1653 by silk mercer Thomas Bayly.
Its interior is rich with wall paintings, panelling and a magnificent oak staircase with a rare survival of painted fictive balustrading on the walls. The dining room features unusual and unique, painted vertical stripes on the walls flowing over doors, hinges and down the sides of the stone fireplace, thought to represent striped silk hangings.
In a far-sighted decision, the house was purchased by Marlborough Town Council for the town in 1991. A charitable trust was set up with the objective of raising the funds necessary to restore the property and open it to the public now in its 20th anniversary year.
The Merchant’s House is the most thoroughly documented and researched building in Marlborough and is now a very special visitor attraction, and it features in Simon Jenkins’s book England’s Thousand Best Houses.
Room by room, the interior has been painstakingly restored by experts enabling visitors to step back in time and appreciate what life was like for Thomas Bayly, his family and servants in the mid seventeenth century.
More restoration work is planned as and when funds become available.
The Trust relies on more than 100 volunteers to keep The Merchant’s House running smoothly. In total they donate 240 hours of voluntary effort every week, serving in the shop, giving conducted tours of the house, organising fund-raising events, costume making, working on the turkey work dining chairs project, restoration work and maintenance in the 17th century style garden situated behind the house.
A visit to The Merchant’s House is not complete without browsing round the stylish shop, open every day from 9.30am to 5pm, selling high quality merchandise, the profits from which continue to underpin the project.
The Merchant’s House and the garden are open to visitors from 1 April to 31 October, on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11am to 4pm for guided tours or by appointment at other times for groups.
Entrance £5 for adults. Under 16s £1. More information on The Merchant’s House and ‘Specialist Day’ visits for groups, is available on the website: www.themerchantshouse.co.uk
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