v 6.30.00
28 Jan 2022
updated 19 Nov 2022

Appuldurcombe House

Appuldurcombe1, 2 is a 300-year-old manor house dating back to the 18th century, but there has been a building on the site since 1200. The original building was a religious house, but since that time has had a chequered history. It is said to have 52 rooms (one for each week of the year) and 365 windows (yes, you've guessed).

For 300 years from the early 16th century it was the home of the Worsley family and was once the most important estate on the island – indeed King Henry VIII was entertained there on several occasions, and it was one of his favourite places to practice his falconry skills.

In 1587 the young sons of Sir Richard Worsley were killed in an explosion at the Gatehouse. In 1781 Seymour Dorothy Fleming, wife of Sir Richard Worsley, caused a great scandal by having a high profile affair, and later admitted to having had 27 lovers.

Following the Worsley dynasty, the next owner, Charles Anderson-Pelham, Earl of Yarborough and founder of the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes, used the property as a convenient base for his sailing activities. In 1855 the estate was sold again. An unsuccessful business venture ran Appuldurcombe as a hotel, and then in 1867 it became a school called Dr Pound's Academy for Young Gentlemen – the slightly Dickensian reality behind Sir Harry's reference to 'Appuldurcombe'! But in 1894 the school closed.

The house was inhabited in 1901–1907 by a hundred Benedictine monks who had been exiled from Solesmes Abbey in France and were shortly to settle at Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight, but from 1909 it was unoccupied except by the billeting of troops in both world wars. It was badly damaged in the Second World War, when a Dornier Do 217 that was engaged in a mine laying mission turned inland and dropped its final mine very close to the house on 7 February 1943 before crashing into St Martin's Down.

These days, however, the house is undergoing restoration to its former glory, as the focal point of an English Heritage attraction. I think the young scholars at Dr Pound's Academy would definitely have regarded this as a major step in the right direction!