Swallowcliffe house

Swallowcliffe house



On a plot of land previously owned by John Ryall (see first map below), Swallowcliffe House in Kingston was most likely built by mason and master builder Charles Vining around 1830, probably for wealthy glove manufacturer George Mayo who certainly lived in it during the 1840s. The 1831 map of Yeovil (see second map below) shows the property as owned by 'Mr G Mayo' and the 1842 Tithe Map marks the property 'G. Mayo Esq'.

In the Yeovil Reform Riot of October 1831, a faction of the rioting mob marched the length of Kingston to bombard the house with stones and other missiles and almost every pane of glass was demolished.

From around 1860 to 1878 it was owned by Elias Whitby Jnr. He sold it to William Mayo who named the house Swallowcliffe after once having lived at Swallowcliffe, Wiltshire. The 1889-90 Valuation List noted Thomas Mayo as the owner, he was also listed as resident in Kelly's 1902 Directory. Frank Whitmash Mayo was listed as the occupier in Collin's Directory of 1907 although the 1911 census listed his father, 82-year old Thomas Worsfold Mayo (son of Yeovil's first Mayor, John Ryall Mayo) as head of the household, with Frank and his sister Penelope (both in their early 40s and both unmarried) with two servants.

In 1920 the property was bought by William Earle Tucker, later mayor of Yeovil.

During the twentieth century the extensive grounds and orchards to its rear were sold off and Swallowcliffe Gardens was built on the land. The house itself became government offices - it was listed as the Ministry of Labour Employment Exchange in Snell's Directory of 1954-5. It was purchased by the Government in 1964 and was later County Court offices. It is now converted and offers accommodation under the new name of First Court.




The following description is from the Somerset Historic Environment Record -

Town house, circa 1830. Rendered (and lined to imitate ashlar) and colourwashed; hipped Welsh slate roof with wide soffite. East facade of 2-storeys, 3-bays, having central stone Roman Doric porch of good projection with unfluted columns and pilasters and full entablature; over the 6-panel door is a plain semi-circular fanlight: to either side are 12-pane with margin sash windows with radial deadlights over set in semi-circular arched niches: at first floor level three 12-pane sashes in plain openings. The interior (not fully inspected) has the original staircase and some good plasterwork, especially cornices and a plaster vaulted ceiling to the entrance hall, as well as a number of Regency style doors and architraves at ground floor level (upstairs modified for fire regulations).




E Watts' map of 1806 shows the plot of land owned by John Ryall that would become the site and grounds of Swallowcliffe House.


The 1831 map of Yeovil shows the newly-built Swallowcliffe House (albeit not named as such) as Parcel 523, owned by George Mayo.


Map based on the 1901 Ordnance Survey, showing Swallowcliffe House at centre.




This early photograph of Swallowcliffe House probably dates to about 1910.


This colourised photograph features in my book 'Yeovil From Old Photographs'

Swallowcliffe House photographed in the 1970s.


Swallowcliffe House photographed in 2013. It is now renamed First Court and offers accommodation. It has been undergoing extensive alterations and extensions for some considerable time.