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Nettlecombe Court

Estate once owned by the father of King Harold, Godwin has never been bought or sold.

Current affairs 1968 4 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


Clive Gunnell visits Nettlecombe Court located near the Brendon Hills in Exmoor National Park which has just become a natural history centre for field sciences. The existing mansion house, church and parkland are sixteenth-century Elizabethan, Tudor and Georgian but archaeologists have discovered Viking remains dating to 900. The Great Hall is immortalised in the British film adaptation of the Henry Fielding novel Tom Jones (1963) starring Albert Finney.

Netelcumbe belonged to Godwin, Earl of Wessex and father of Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson and passed to Harold’s son Prince Godwin. After Harold’s defeat to the Norman William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, Saxon nobles lost their lands. In 1160 Henry II granted Nettlecombe to Hugh de Ralegh and it has remained in direct blood heirs of the de Ralegh family including Whalesburgh, Trevelyan and Wolseley, never having been bought or sold. It became St. Audries Preparatory School after the Second World War and from 1967 is the Leonard Wills Field Centre established by the Field Studies Council which was set up in 1943 to promote the study of living plants and animals in a natural environment.