Midgham House
Thatcham, Berkshire

Midgham House was the manor house of Erley's Manor, the most important of the four manors of Midgham tything, originally part of the parish of Thatcham. The estate was originally owned by the widespread Earley family of Earley Whiteknights, near Reading. A building of the Stuart period, adjoining the local chapel and overlooking the Kennet Valley, was purchased, from John & Michael Hillersdon, by the diplomat, Stephen Poyntz, in 1735; although the transaction took some three years to complete.

Poyntz immediately set to, "laying out, in further improvements, a good deal of money" at Midgham. The house was almost, if not entirely, rebuilt. Paintings of the time show a rather plain white stucco two-storey building of eight bays, with a slate roof and small simple portico, not unlike the back of the house in later photographs. Poyntz had only recently become tutor to and head of the household of the young Prince William, Duke of Cumberland. The boy spent so much of his childhood at Midgham, that Poyntz found himself obliged to build further accommodation, then and long afterwards known as the 'Duke's Rooms'. As a mark of esteem for his services, the Queen, Caroline of Anspach, placed a very beautiful vase, ornamented with figures in high relief, in the grounds. In later years, the Duke visited his old tutor at Midgham House after his victory at the Battle of Culloden, and presented him with his battle sword and the bullet that had wounded him. They were kept at Midgham for almost 100 years. Stephen Poyntz died in 1750 and the estate was inherited by his son, William. He held posts such as Inspector of Prosecutions in the Exchequer and Manager of the Prince of Wales’ Staghounds; and made Midgham a popular venue for intellectual society get-togethers. He was painted by Gainsborough. The poet and linguist, Sir William Jones, called Midgham "a sweet place ... the seat of perfect liberty". The next Poyntz, William Stephen MP, preferred the Cowdray Park estate which he inherited from his brother-in-law, Lord Montague. The family sold up in 1842, only two years after his death.

Subsequent owners included Thomas Thorpe Fowke RN, William Massey and Benjamin Buck Greene. Greene was the son of the founder of the Greene King Brewery. With his brother-in-law, James Blyth of Woolhampton House, he owned Blyths and Greene, London's largest colonial merchants and shipowners. They imported sugar from Mauritius, India, the East and West Indies, and France. He later became Governor of the Bank of England. Greene had John Johnson remodel the front of the house in Italianate style. Upon his death in 1902, the estate was sold to Alexander Felix Clarke, and later passed to the Baronets Black.

The house was finally pulled down in 1967. Poyntz' panelling, however, now graces the walls of Brimpton Millhouse, while Midgham's Dower House was lost in a game of cards and re-erected as a gatehouse at Aldermaston Court. A smaller quasi-Rococo style house with Gothic windows was was built on a different site in 1971.


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