Saltford Manor - meet what is thought to be the oldest continuously occupied private house in England. The stone house dates all the way back to the original Norman period and was built by William Fitz Robert, 2nd Earl of Gloucester.

Over in America, the oldest tavern is believed to be the White Horse Tavern built in around 1652. It was variously used as a Rhode Island General Assembly meeting place, a city hall, and even a criminal courthouse. The oldest tavern in Europe is much much older and is thought to be Sean's Bar in Ireland that according to Guinness was first founded in AD 900.

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The Quaint Somerset Village of Saltford

The Saltford Manor is located in the historic southwestern English village of Saltford. It is a large village with some 4,200 residents on the River Avon. This picturesque village is surrounded by green belt land preserving the rural setting for the village.

  • Population: 4,200
  • Historic: The Village of Saltford Is Picturesque and Historic

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There are also many outdoor sports that one can enjoy in this quaint English village including tennis, cricket, football, walking, golf, cycling, horse riding, kayaking, rowing, and sailing according to Visit Somerset.

It is a village steeped in Britain's rich history with evidence that the Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, and Normans once lived and farmed here. Various artifacts have been discovered like Roman coffins, ancient coins, bronze ax heads, a stone ax hammer, an Anglo-Saxon burial ground, and even a really old Carthaginian Coin (300-264 BC).

  • Archeology: Evidence From Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, And Normans

It is perhaps best known for Saltford Manor House. But other important buildings include:

  • The Norman Church of St Mary’s: It Was Even Attacked By The Roundheads In the English Civil War
  • Saltford Brassmill: Mention In the Domesday Book For When it Was a Watermill (Now Open To The Public)
  • Tunnel House: A Notable Historical House

Related: The Best Museums In England Appeal To Everyone, Not Just History Buffs

History Of The Salford Manor

It was built in 1148 - dating back to some of the earliest times of modern English history (as opposed to Roman Britain, Anglo-Saxon England, or Viking Britain).

  • Location: Saltford near Bath In Southwestern England
  • Built: In 1148
  • Builder: Norman Earl

Salford Manor was the winner of a contest in 2003 to find the oldest continuously inhabited house in Britain. It is not the oldest building in England. Nor is it the oldest English building that was originally used as a house. Other very old dwellings were eliminated because they are now used as shops or museums.

  • Winner: The Winner Of A 2003 Contest To Find The "oldest continuously inhabited house in Britain"

Because of the Norman window and the religious 13th Century wall paintings, it is assumed that the manor was likely the original home (rectory) for the parish priest of the adjacent church. These ornate windows are thought to be some of the oldest parts of the house and date it to before 1150 - and likely around 1148.

This is also partly based on the completion date of Hereford Cathedral with which it shares a number of similarities. In particular, the Norman arch that's etched with diamond markings is similar to features in the Cathedral.

Related: The Posh City Of Chester Is Often Overlooked, But Absolutely Worth Exploring

The Saltford Manor House Today

Today the estate boasts medieval fish ponds to the northeast of the Manor House. These are thought to have been used for the production and storage of coarse fish for food.

  • Medieval Fish Ponds: Thought To Have Been a Source of Food For the Manor
  • Sale: The Saltford Manor Was Sold In 2010 For £1,275,000

The Saltford Manor House is adjacent to St. Mary's Church (the older Saltford Manor House's 13th Century chapel collapsed and was not replaced).

 

Of course, as it has been a continuously inhabited house, much has changed over the many years - almost 900 years is a long time for a house to stand. There is though a rare survival of a fragment of a medieval painting as an important feature of the house.

The kitchen is "new" dating from the 17th century while the manor also has a large and imposing Tudor fireplace.

The interior layout has also changed following remodeling in the 17th century. Anthony Emery (an architectural historian) thinks that the house would have originally been composed of a large single room on each floor with a vaulted chamber on the ground floor.

If one would like to find the oldest houses in England, one typically needs to look outside of London - mostly because most of London was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. One of the most rewarding small cities to visit in England is nearby Bath - famous for its Roman Baths as well as Chester - also famous for Roman ruins and Tutor architecture.

Next: Do The Baths Of England Live Up To The Hype? Here's What To Know