We have been given rare access to Hannington Hall in Wiltshire.
Hannington was used during WW2 as the HQ for the Special Duties Section.
Coleshill (CIO) County Information Officer, Bill Ashby, was joined by Paula and I and the owner of the house, Mr.Wallace, very kindly gave up 2 hours of his time to give us a tour.
You can see a range of pictures below. (Full CART members can also view interior images if you email us for access)
Very little is still known about what went on at Hannington Hall so if anyone has any information then please contact us.
For your possible interest, I’ve come across an old record about Eric John Hussey FREKE, who on his employment with the White Star shipping company gave his address as Hannington Hall, Highworth, Wilts. His date of birth was given as 1883. Prior to joining White Star, he was educated at HMS CONWAY. He joined the White Star Line on the 31st of July 1899′ as a mid-shipman. The final note in this record states, “deserted at Sydney, Oct 1900”.
My aunt and uncle worked at Hannington Hall until the early 1980’s. The house then was owned by the Hussey Frekes. There were just two of them at the time and I use to help my aunt clean there during the summers I visited. It was all faded grandeur. I don’t remember my aunt or uncle mentioning anything about the hall being used during the war, but they weren’t living in Hannington then.
Ambrose and Mary H-F really saved the Hall and they were v.nice people. Still hunting and playing tennis when she was 80! Now in the hands of one of her relations,Lorna, and Carmichael Wallace. They are doing amazing things to the house to restore its grandeur.
One of my ancestors-Ambrose Denis Hussey married Florence Freke in 1863-hence the hyphenated surname.I have some photos of the house and the family from the 1870s. Francis Hussey.
Hello I’d love to see these photos as I’m doing a school project on hannington thanks
Oh Dear ! I am sorry but I have not looked at this website for 3 years. If you send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, I can send you photos of the Hall and H-F family in the 1860s. Hope this may be of some use. Francis Hussey.
SEARCHING FOR SOMETHING ELSE ABOUT HANNINGTON I HAVE JUST COME ACROSS THE SITE,WHICH I FIND MOST INTERESTING AND ONLY WISHED MY DEAR DEPARTED MOTHER AND GRANDFATHER COULD HAVE SEEN.
I WAS BORN IN CORNWALL AFTER THE WAR & WAS BROUGHT UP ABOUT OUR FAMILY CONNECTIONS WITH HANNINGTON,ESPECIALLY A GREAT UNCLE AMBROSE WILLIS WHO FARMED OVER 600 ACRES IN HANNINGTON (WHO IS BURIED WITH WIFE AND BROTHER EDWARD WILLIS IN THE CHURCHYARD) AN D A NUMBER OF FARMING RELATIVES INCLUDING THE EDDOLLS OF LYNT BRIDGE.IN THE FAMILY ALBUM HERE, IS A FAMILY PHOTO OF THE WHOLE OF THE HUSSEY-FREKE FAMILY OUTSIDE HANNINGTON HALL AT THE TURN OF THE 20TH CENTURY.
ALTHOUGH MY CLOSE FAMILY WAS IN SWINDON THROUGHOUT THE WAR MY FATHER WORKED ON AIRCRAFT NEAR COLESHILL BUT DID NOT KNOW OF THE ACTIVITY IN HANNINGTON,MY GRANDFATHER WAS CLERK TO THE CHIEF MECHANICAL ENGINEER GWR &ALSO DIDNT MENTION IT,BUT IN THOSE DAYS EVERYONE WAS TAUGHT TO TAKE SECRETS TO THE GRAVE..THIS IS MOST INTERESTING AND I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW MORE.IT WAS SO FASCINATING TO SEE THE HALL FROM CLOSE UP AND I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT IT IF YOU ARE INTERESTED I CAN ALWAYS E-MAIL A COPY OF THE PHOTO
I was born in Hannington Hall 1960 – in the servants quarters which were demolished I believe – I’ve never been back since leaving aged 1yo! I understand the Hussey Freke’s were very kind to my parents (now deceased) – my father was a young school master who was given free accommodation I understand. Remember stories of hunts and Mrs Hussey Freke riding side saddle. Always say I started out well in life……now have a 4 year old daughter must bring her along she’ll be impressed.
My name is Dale Hunt formerly Dale Charlton and we used to live in York House, Hannington. Your parents and mine were good friends and we all spent time at the hall with your family or you came to ours. Richard was the same age as my younger brother Tim and my other siblings are Jane and Jon. We visited your fmily in Wadebridge and got to know Jonathan and Daniel a little. We were very shocked to hear of the circumstances of your parents death as we remember them with great fondness.
It was blast from the past to see your name whilst Jane and I were looking up the history Hannington.
I hope you and your brother’s are all well and it would be good to hear from you.
It was good to read your comments about Hannington Hall,
I remember you and your sister very well, i believe you were
the same age as my sister Stella. I also remember your parents
very well, and remember when they kept The George at
I have some history with the Hall as well, my Grandfather moved
to Hannington from Norwich in 1922 to be the Fry family
chauffeur who had just purchased the estate. The Hall was
sold back to the Freke family in the mid 1950’s after Mrs Fry
passed away. My grandparents lived at The Koll House just opposite York House.
I hope you and your family are keeping well and i send my best
My great grandfather was butler at Hannington Hall in the 1870s.I would love to hear from anyone who could fill in any background information.I know Great grandpa was happy working for the family ,having started out at The Wardrobe in Salisbury Cathedral Close as a footman prior to Hannington.He stayed as butler with the family serving other members in Bath and in London and he and his wife chose names for their children from the family.I would also love to see any pics of the servants area of the house.
I can well imagine Mary Hussey-Freke riding side saddle! She was a wonderful old character : I knew her briefly in her 80’s when she was still playing tennis on the hard court which she and Ambrose made over the other side of the lane.
In 1863, one of my ancestors,Ambrose Denis Hussey, married Miss Florence Freke which is where the hyphenated surname originated.My wife and I have since been back to look at the changes made by the present owners-Carmichael and Lorna Wallace. Fabulous. it is wonderful to see the whole place coming to life again. Francis Hussey.
I have to tell you that Lorna Wallace, Mary Hussey-Freke’s niece and inheritor of the Hall, sold it last year and has moved right away, retaining only Bydemill Farm. There is now no longer any connection to the family. Mr &Mrs Wallace actually reside in Halifax Nova Scotia and have only an occasional stay in this country.
Since Mary died there has sadly been little or no interaction between the Hall and the village as there previously was, and the new owners are, I believe, Belgian. “The old order changeth”!
I’m currently trying to fill in the gaps of my Hussey ancestors, so it was a delight to find this site. My ancestor was Louisa Hussey who married William Bird Brodie. I have to say that trying to sort out all the early Hussey clan from Australia is not the easiest of tasks, especially as they were all called Thomas, James or William and there were lots of them! Almost as bad as my husband’s Welsh Davis lot.
I was born in Swindon & lived at Stratton St Margaret until my late teens (1960s), I had heard stories about Coleshill House during the war & my parents were friendly with the tenant farmer (Les Williams) at Home Farm at Coleshill House. My parrents drove my brother & myself up to Coleshill when the house burnt down!
I moved to the South Coast due to work mid 1970s.
Having just retired I have been catching up with some overdue reading, I have just by chance reading ‘Churchill’s Underground Army,auther John Warwicker. Hannington House is mentioned as the war time SDS HQ which was described as a pleasant walk on a fine day from Coleshill House.
SDS systems was to be activated in the event of an German invasion.
So Hannington Hall was linked to Coleshill during the WW2.
The book is well worth reading and may help with your research. Hannington Hall is certainly a fine looking county house,
Thanks Richard. We are well aware of the book and Hannington Hall. You can read more about the Hall on our website here http://www.coleshillhouse.com/specialdutiesbranch/hannington-hall.php
This is exciting to read about. I am a descendant of the Frekes, although here in American they spell it Frakes. My grandmother is a direct descendant of Thomas Frakes Sr who came to Boston in the mid 1600’s.
That is interesting! I am a descendant of the Husseys whose son Ambrose Denis married Florence Freke in1863 and their name became Hussey-Freke. Years ago my wife and I met Ambrose and Mary H-F who bought the house back in the 1950s. It has recently been renovated by the present owners to a very high standard.
My name is Louise Barton (nee Freke). My mum, Janice Freke, who passed away in 2006 did a lot of family history and so I was aware of a link with my paternal side of the family and Hannington Hall – also with Castle Freke in Ireland and the land that Montacute House is now built on.
I would love to learn more about Hannington Hall, the Frekes and this side of my family if anyone can share anything.
I also believe there was a Freke link to the slave trade in Bristol and wondered if the land was bought with, and the house built with money made from the slave trade.
Hi Louse, you can find some info here: http://blog.coleshillhouse.com/hannington-hall-opens-its-doors
Also, I have forwarded your comments within the team so we can hopefully get back to you. Cheers.
Hello Francis Hussey I’d love to see these photos as I’m doing a school project on hannington thanks
I seem to have rather monopolised this correspondence! but I must just bring you all up to date. Yesterday my wife and I went to the Hall and had lunch with the present owners.Mr.and Mrs. Gullaume Proost who are very charming and welcomed us with great kindness. The most important aspect of our visit was to see the renovation of the beautiful French drawing -room-I always referred it in the past as the ball room. It is so perfectly proportioned-a double cube-40 x 20 x 20-and all the 18thC wallpaper and paintings in their roundels have been restored with the most wonderfully elaborate wall candle holders and coving.It was an absolute revelation to see it after the damp and grey appearance 10 years ago.
They are now bringing the stables(coach house) up to date and creating a manege on the other side of the lane. I am certain that my ancestor, Ambrose Denis Hussey who Florence Freke- he was the nephew of my great-grandfather, Rev. Edward Hussey- would be thrilled to see the amazing interior of the house and the gardens too.
My name is Karen Bannister nee Smith – my maternal grandparents Harold and Gertrude HEDGES were involved in the church – and knew the Hussey Frekes very well-as they all attended church every Sunday – I lived at 14 Queens Road Hannington
I was lucky enough to be bought a pony and could ride through the farm across to the Farrier /Blacksmith in Highworth – I also played tennis on the Court across the road from the Hall.TheHussey-Frekes were very kind to me allowing me to borrow their racquets and balls – I used to ring the bells along with my grandfather and sing in the choir – and I recall I attended many village flower shows at the Hall- I rememberMr and Mrs Freke very well/ they were very nice