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Chettle History

The name Chettle comes from the Saxon for a deep valley, which describes the area very well. 

Sometime around 1106, a nunnery was established here under the patronage of Henry I. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries the estate passed to the crown until Elizabeth I sold it to the Chafin family, in whose hands it remained until 1818. 

When the Chafins moved in, they settled in an existing Elizabethan manor. By 1710 they had decided that the old house was unsuitable, and Thomas Archer was brought in to create a new manor house. When Archer embarked on the project he must have had no idea that it would not be completed for another 25 years! All the materials for the new house were sourced locally, bricks were made from local clay, timbers from wood felled and seasoned over the course of years. 

Archer's design resulted in a two-storey house with basement and attics, topped by a central cupola. The cupola was removed in the 1840s, but the remainder of the house we see today is much as Archer left it. The walls are red brick dressed with ashlar, with roofs of slate and lead. Among the most distinctive features is the lack of corners; as was his normal practice, Archer rounded corners wherever possible.

The most striking interior feature is the glorious Central Staircase, made of two wings that part and circle back to meet at the first-floor level. Of the other rooms on view, perhaps the most interesting is the Drawing Room, a spacious, light chamber. 

After the death of the last Chafin without an heir, the house was purchased by the Castleman family of Wimborne. The Castlemans made some changes to the house layout, most notably by lowering the north and south wings.  

In the gardens stand the lovely 16th-century parish church of St Mary, which is an attractive Decorated Gothic building with several Chafin family tombs. 

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