Special thanks and credit for taking the photos and keeping us up-to-date on the fate of the manor to

Danny P. Birchall, Univ. of Sussex Webmaster!

Swanborough Manor is located in Sussex, England. It was donated and used as the home for the Vice Chancellor for the University of Sussex. The current Vice Chancellor does not live in it and its fate is under discussion. The University of Sussex library special collections department houses the records about the manor and the Swanborough family members involved with it.

Summer of 1998, 3 British team members visited the Manor and reviewed the library records to see where, if at all, the family tied in. This was their report:

"Nigel, Kim [Swansborough] and I [John Swansbury] have now been to Sussex University and we have looked at the Swanborough manor papers. Ms Englis, of the University Library, was very helpful and informative. After a few hours study, we came to the conclusion that there is no evidence for a link between this place and the origins of our Swanborough family in Wiltshire. It may simply be a coincidental description of a similar "peasants' hill", or it may even be that Alfred (or one of his contemporaries) brought the name from Wiltshire to Sussex (or Wessex, as it then was). There is good evidence that he visited both areas. (He actually owned lands at Bedwin, Pewsey and Alton in Wiltshire.)

It seems that there was a Swanborough Hundred in Wessex, as well as one in Wiltshire. It consisted of four manors, including Niworde (now Ilford), in which Swanborough manor is now located. Swanborough manor house itself was owned by Queen Edith in the 11th Century, which is the earliest known mention. (I'll just remind anyone at this point that a manor is an area of land, not a building.)

Among the papers was the beginning of a book by a Miss Cole - just two chapters. The first chapter is a chatty discussion about the relative claims of both Swanboroughs to have been the place where Alfred wrote his will; the second is a life history of Queen Edith. Miss Coles makes it clear that she would have liked Alfred to have written his will at Swanborough manor, but after carefully considering the evidence she has to conclude that it was probably not. The original will has not survived, but there is a copy in Church records. The relevant bit is extremely scanty: "When we were in council in Swinburgh....". The only other clue is a reference to "boar hills". Miss Cole says that it was unlikely that there was good boar hunting in Sussex, since much of the area had been cultivated since Roman times. She then writes of having consulted a Dorothy Whitelock of St.Hilda's College, Oxford, a leading light in the English Place-Name Society of at least 30 years ago. This lady considered all the various spellings of the Swanborough Hundred(s) and gave her opinion that the differences between them and the "Swinburgh" in the will meant that probably neither site was correct, and the true site could be anywhere. Despite this, Miss Coles clearly thought that Swanborough Tump was still a possibility. I would like to think so, too!

All the other papers we looked at related to people and events of the locality; we found no mention of anyone with Swanborough as their name.

Nearby [to the manor] are a few old houses, presumably descendants of the Swanborough Cottages which are mentioned in the 1841 and 1851 censuses. One was called Swanborough Rise. There was also a sign pointing to a footpath to Swanborough hill.

So, it was a nice day out, and we learned a little bit more about King Alfred and his era, but sadly we feel that there is probably no direct link to our family history."

Above summary prepared by John Swansbury

We're told that the exterior shots of the British situation comedy show "To the Manor Born" were of Swanborough Manor.

See for yourself, exterior photos of Swanborough Manor [click on image for larger view]!

Approach, front views:

Side views and exterior buildings:



Contact: bonniefd@earthlink.net

Updated January 15, 2005

Copyright 1998-2005, Bonnie Swansbrough

My claim of copyright extends to the original contributions that I have made to this site and to the site as a compilation of existing works.Some contributions to this site have been made by others, and they are given credit where appropriate, and they retain the copyrights to their works.