Having passed through multiple owners and having had more lives than the proverbial cat, Dunsmore Hall Farm is the ultimate house for which we wished the walls could speak. This magnificent country house was originally built between 1770 and 1780 as a farm. When first erected it was the only building in the hamlet of Dunsmore.
In 1850, Dunsmore Hall Farm, by this time referred to as a Gentlemen’s Residence, was bought by a local solicitor. The building, filled with period features and multiple reception rooms, was named ‘Clifton Lodge’ and was rented out to those worthy of living under its roof. One such resident was David Buchannan (1830 – 1900), a famous cricketer who played for Cambridge and Rugby and in 1877 played a critical role in the establishment of the Warwickshire County Cricket Club. WCCC was officially founded in its present form in 1882 and was captained for the first four years by the then fifty-two year-old Buchannan.
In 1871 the land and buildings were purchased by Sir Philip Muntz, 1st Baronet, who was an English businessman and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1884 to 1908. He was the son of George Frederic Muntz, the inventor of Muntz metal, a brass alloy intended to replace the copper that was then used to prevent fouling on ocean-going ships. Muntz was a Justice of the Peace for Warwickshire, and was elected Conservative MP for Warwickshire North and later for Tamworth, a seat he held until his death in 1908. After purchasing Dunsmore Hall Farm and the surrounding land, Muntz built the spectacular three-floored Dunsmore House further into the grounds, and developed the estate to include a gatehouse, stables, coach house, sunken garden and tennis court.
Dunsmore Hall Farm was then converted to house the staff for Dunsmore House. The house was divided into three residences for the head groom, housekeeper and butler. The original conservatory became the laundry for the main house. By the time the house changed hands again in 1909 it had been split into a house and four additional flats.
When the present owners bought the house in 1978, they transformed Dunsmore Hall Farm back into a single residence, sitting in three acres of gardens, retaining one flat above the stables. The stables were rented out for many years to local equestrian enthusiasts who required stabling facilities. The gardens, originally the Pleasure Gardens of Dunsmore House, were lovingly developed by the owners to become the beautiful, landscaped gardens which can be viewed today. Now established gardens with woodland, over the last 40 years they have played host to numerous open garden fundraisers and local events.
There are so many features of this building that have been added and developed as it has passed through its journey – from the turret added to the back of the house in the time of David Buchannan, to the carving of a woman’s head added early in its life, to the fantastic stables with original flooring and door locking system, and the now mature avenue of lime trees. If only the walls could tell the stories that this house has doubtless experienced!