Shaw House in Newbury, Berkshire is a Grade I listed building and is believed to be one of the best examples of Elizabethan architecture left in England. The house was commissioned by Thomas Dolman and was completed in 1581. Thomas was a wealthy cloth merchant and was keen to establish his family’s position in the new landed classes.
The Dolman family received a great honour when, in 1592, Elizabeth I stayed in the house on her Royal Progress, albeit she only stayed for two nights. It is believed she stayed in what is now called the King Charles Room. Later in 1603 King James I and his queen, Anne of Denmark visited Shaw House. Anne returned again in 1612.
Shaw House found itself in the midst of the English Civil war in the mid-17th Century. With the Dolman family still in residence, with father, Humphrey Dolman and his son, Thomas, finding themselves on different sides. Humphrey was a Parliamentarian and whilst he was away his son Thomas, an active Royalist, welcomed the nearby Royalist troops into the house. And as the second battle of Newbury raged on nearby, a diversionary attack led by Parliamentarian, the Earl of Manchester put the house under siege. It is during this attack that the musket shot, which is still embedded in the panelling of the King Charles Room, was said to have been fired. The story goes that the shot was fired, from a parliamentarian solider in the grounds, at King Charles I. However, it is now widely believed that Charles I never visited the house and was elsewhere in Newbury during this time.
During the restoration of the monarchy Thomas Dolman was rewarded for his loyalty and knighted. King Charles II and after his death King James II were both known visitors to the house and Thomas.
In the early part of the 18th century the interior of the house was extensively remodelled. Except for three key rooms which still retain their dark oak Tudor panelling, the King Charles Room, the Oak Room and the Farquer Room. The 18th Century renovations coincided with a visit from Queen Anne in 1703. It is these renovations that you see in the house today. The exclusive wedding hire ceremony room is the largest of the Queen Anne Rooms and is most likely to have been the Queens main reception room during her stay at Shaw House.
As a large Tudor country house, the house has had to evolve to ensure its survival. Passing from the Chandos family in the mid-18th Century and then throughout the next two hundred years passing from one family and relative to another. During the war years the house found itself home to school children, as the local secondary school was bombed. It stayed a school until the building was deemed unsafe during the 1990’s and the house fell into further disrepair. A heritage lottery grant in 2006 saved the house and West Berkshire council took ownership and ensured the houses long term survival. The house is still owned by West Berkshire Council, who use the house during the week to host training and conference meetings. The Newbury area registrar office is also located in the house. There are also a number of heritage open days and events throughout the year.
For more information on the house and the heritage events visit https://www.westberkshireheritage.org/shaw-house
Shaw House Exclusive Weddings is the next chapter in the houses history. One which will allow for further investment in the house and grounds and will create a stable financial foundation for the house’s next 500 years of history.