The history of the manor houses of Tidmarsh is complicated. The manor was originally part of the Honour of Wallingford and held in return for providing a knight to help garrison the castle there for forty days in time of war. It seems to have been held by one Hugh de Tidmarsh by the late 12th century, and his family continued there until 1407, despite a number of disputes that, at times, must have torn the family apart. During these early times, the manor house had its own fishery and this was later joined by other means of providing sustenance: a rabbit warren and a dovecote. Around the same time, there was a second important estate in the village owned by Reading Abbey. It was at Tidmarsh that the monks had their vineyard, no doubt with small grange attached; but which estate was centred on the present 'Grange' site is unclear. Indications of medieval barns and even a tower-like structure alongside a causeway running down to the river have certainly been discovered beneath the ground there over the years. Perkins suggested these showed the site of a small wharf for the movement of abbey produce.
After passing through a number of hands, Tidmarsh Manor House, wherever it stood, was sold to the Rothwells of South Moreton in 1428. Their heirs were the Leynhams from Sindlesham. Henry Leynham's brass memorial (1517) can still be seen in Tidmarsh Church, where he is shown dressed in a fine heraldic tabard. His mother, Margaret, lies nearby. Her second husband was Chief Justice Sir Thomas Wood and the family had other judicial connections, for Henry's daughter and eventual heiress sold the manor to her uncle, Chief Justice Sir Thomas Englefield in 1522. The estate then seems to have become something of a land investment, changing hands a number of times between families who lived elsewhere. However, in 1714, it was purchased by the resident Lynne family and then, in the 1750s, by General Robert Dalzell, probably an uncle of the 6th Earl of Carnwath, who was a prominent British Officer during the War of the Spanish Succession. He seems to have made Tidmarsh his home, in preference to his Jamaican estates, until his death in 1758 when the house was inherited by his grandson and namesake. With his wife, Jane, the daughter of John Dodd MP from Swallowfield Park, Robert Dalzell II raised a family of three at Tidmarsh, but he sold up when they were in their twenties, around 1790.
In 1798, the manor of Tidmarsh was purchased by Robert Hopkins, the second son of John Hopkins of Ardington and Prince's Manor in Harwell. This ancient family were very proud of their ancestor who had tilled the land in order to make his fortune and, for many years, preserved his working clothes at Tidmarsh. Robert lived at Tidmarsh House, a square 'old fashioned' building on the present 'Grange' site; but perhaps the place had become rather rundown after years of neglect before the Dalzell residence, for, in 1828, he completely rebuilt it. It is said the river had to be diverted slightly, so the exact site must have been slightly different to any previous house. The area is very marshy so the morning room was built on piles. At Robert's death in 1834, the estate was inherited by his eldest son, also Robert, who unfortunately only outlived his father by four years. Tidmarsh then passed to his brother, John. John Hopkins was married to the daughter of Rev. Dr. John Symonds Breedon from Bere Court in adjoining Pangbourne. Together they raised a family of five children at Tidmarsh. The eldest, Robert John Hopkins, inherited the place in 1877 and, the following year, pulled down the majority of the house in order to build a new one, called Tidmarsh Manor, on the hill overlooking the village. This was completed by 1881 and the Hopkins family moved in. What was left of Tidmarsh House was renamed Tidmarsh Grange in honour of its presumed early monastic origins. It appears to have been largely replaced by a Victorian building which was then rented out to tenants. This was itself demolished in 2007 and replaced by the present twin buildings which are partitioned into flats.
Many thanks to Tony Hadland for sending me details of Peter Noel Perkins' theories on the site's earliest buildings.
Old Tidmarsh Grange no longer stands. The present buildings are private residences. Information concerning the building demolished in 2007 is requested.
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