Coleshill House


Coleshill House was built for  Sir George Pratt in 1647 by his cousin, an architect of some distinction, who called in renowned royal architect Inigo Jones to cast his eye over the site.

Coleshill was the first house to be built for a ‘minor’ gentleman in the classical manner. The plan of the house combined convenience with advanced designs of architecture.  Innovations included a corridor for separate access to all rooms and back stairs for the use of servants.  Rooms were grouped in suites in the French apartment system.

Sir George Pratt’s daughter Mary married Thomas Pleydell of Shrivenham in 1666 and eventually inherited the Coleshill estate.  The Bouverie connection came when Harriet, the daughter of Sir Mark Stuart Pleydell married William de Bouverie, 1st Earl of Radnor on January 14th 1747/48.

The property would remain in the Pleydell Bouverie family for almost 200 years until 1946 when it was bought by Ernest Edward Cook, partner in the firm of travel agents and grandson of the founder Thomas Cook.

Ten years before the fatal fire that destroyed Coleshill House it was requisitioned by the Army to become the Head Quarters of the Auxiliary Units and its outlying large estate was to become the Training Area for Auxiliers from all over the Country who came to be trained in Demolition, Sabotage, Explosives, Unarmed Combat and the grisly art of Silent Killing to become experts in Guerrilla warfare.

In 1952 Coleshill House sadly burnt to the ground and only the outline of the house survives in Boxed Hedging. The Stable Block and Clock tower all survive and can be seen in our pictures below. (Black & White pictures courtesy of Highworth Historical Society)


Coleshill House in its hey day

Coleshill House from the Air. The stable blocks can be seen on the right

A once beautiful House

The clock tower and stable blocks, all that remains today

The Stable Block, this door was the entrance to the Naafi

The water pump in the court yard

Highworth Post Office, where all Auxiliaers reported to before onward journey to Coleshill House

Plaque on the Post Office dedicated to Mable Shranks the post Mistress

Tree Memorial in the Grounds of Coleshill House remembering the East Riding 202 Auxiliary Battalion


Doorway to the Training Operations Base (OB) in the Grounds

Inside the OB

Meeting Bob Millard a Bath Auxilier on a recent trip to Coleshill House