Aldbourne Heritage Centre

Early settlement at Upper Upham may have continued into historic times.

There is evidence of Roman field systems, occupation and baths.

In the 14th century Upham was a small village, having 40 poll-tax payers in 1377, and was poorer than the average community in the hundred. There may have been some six houses at Upper Upham in the 16th century.

In the first decade of the 17th century there were two large and recently built houses; Upper Upham House north of the lane leading to Lower Upham and another south of it. Between Upper Upham House and the lane were two cottages. Only Upper Upham House, its farmstead, and a cottage, later High Clear House, south-east of them, were standing in the late 18th century and the early 19th.

In 1851 the population of the hamlet was 34, of whom 18 lived in Upper Upham House and its outbuildings. West of the house Eyre’s Barn, later a house, had been built by 1900 and extensive outbuildings were added in the early 20th century. They were altered and extended, and new farm buildings and Summerdale Cottages, a crescent of large houses, were built in the 1960s. Lower Upham was never more than a farmstead. The stonewalled farmhouse is of the late 16th century or the early 17th, extended southwards in the early 19th century.

In 1982 there were two groups of cottages of the 19th century and the 20th west of the house. There was a farmstead called Blake’s 800 m. south-west of Lower Upham in 1773; some buildings survived in 1960 but they have since been demolished.

Sir William Longespee gave land in Upham to Lacock abbey c. 1249. The abbey held Upper Upham at the Dissolution and in 1540 the Crown sold the manor to John Goddard (d. 1557). It passed to his son Thomas (d. 1598) and grandson Richard Goddard (d. 1614), whose relict Elizabeth and her husband Richard Digges held it in 1626.

Upper Upham may have passed with Swindon manor in the Goddard family during the late 17th century but had apparently been sold by the early 18th. In the mid 18th century it passed from John Grove to Francis Grove, perhaps his son, and in 1780 it belonged to Timothy Caswell, who was succeeded in 1802 by his daughter Diana (fl. 1831). The manor was sold c. 1834, probably to John Round, the owner in 1837, and sold again in 1847. In 1870 it was bought by A. L. Goddard (d. 1898). His son F. P. Goddard sold it in 1909 to Hilda Hanbury, later wife of Sir James Currie. Lady Currie died in 1939. R. Peplow owned Upper Upham c. 1945 and sold it in 1961 to Martin Summers. Upper Upham farm was sold several times between 1965 and 1976, and in 1977 it was bought by the Electricity Supply Nominees on behalf of Mr. R. N. Lawton.
Upper Upham House, built in the late 16th century of coursed flint and sarsen rubble with ashlar dressings, has been much altered and extended since 1909. The older part, dated 1599, has a symmetrical south front with a projecting porch and oriels. The hall lies behind the central and eastern portions of the front. Behind the hall were the parlour and staircase, and west of it were the service rooms. The attic on the south side of the house may have served as a long gallery.

The house fell into disrepair in the late 19th century and was restored between 1909 and 1922 by Biddulph Pinchard for Lady Currie. New panelling and ceilings in an early 17th century style were introduced and a west wing, housing more extensive service rooms and nursery accommodation, and a gatehouse north of the new wing were added. Formal gardens were laid out east of the house and a walled court and a double avenue were made north and south of it respectively.
Between 1961 and 1965 many interior fittings were replaced, including the hall ceiling and the library fittings in the former parlour, 18th century French panelling was introduced in the dining room, and a new staircase was built. After 1965 the house was divided into three and the outbuildings, most of which were built for Lady Currie, were sold for conversion into separate houses.