Tudor treachery and fantasy tales
This manor has links to Henry VIII and a children’s storybook hero
The new series of Games of Thrones began this week, with its tales of medieval dynastic conflict. So it is a suitable moment for a 13th-century manor, with links to a turbulent monarch, to come on to the market.
The Old House, in the Somerset village of Milverton, has a turreted porch and a great hall with carved panelling — and a 16th-century painting of Henry VIII that was uncovered during restoration in 2011. The find was reported around the world. The portrait, in the style of Hans Holbein, reinforces the Old House’s links with Thomas Cranmer and Stephen Gardiner. The two men lived here when it was the residence of the archdeacons of Taunton. Cranmer later supplanted Gardiner as Henry’s favoured churchman.
Connections with the violent and adulterous world of the Tudor court, as portrayed in Wolf Hall, are not all the house has to offer. The owner is Angie Sage, the author of the Septimus Heap books, fantasy tales for younger readers about a boy with magical powers. Sage wrote the seven Septimus books at the Old House and feels “he came of age there”. A manuscript of Queste, the fourth book, is somewhere in the panelling but Sage will not disclose where.
This means that the grade II* listed house comes not only with a library, a pantry, six bedrooms and a large garden, but also a mystery — quite a lot for £1.3 million, for sale through Strutt & Parker. For Sage, the Old House has been “a very creative place to be” and a family home. She moved in with her husband, Rhodri Powell, and children in 2007, and found it “in a poor state, dingy and unloved”.
The couple’s makeover has left the Old House comfortable and warm, but still with the power to inspire. Sage wrote a play based on the relationship between Henry and Anne Boleyn that was put on at the house to a packed audience. The couple are selling because their daughter has left home. Sage says: “We have had amazing times here.”