By Emma Kirkup

On Marlborough’s historic High Streets sits, the impressive Merchant’s House. I paid a visit on a warm, July day to see what delights would be unfolded behind the impressive façade…

Entry to the Merchant’s House is by guided tour at selected times. I was in a small group of four people plus our guide, Ilse.

Ilse explained how the house was previously a W H Smith and showed us photographs of what it looked like before Marlborough Town Council (and subsequently the Merchant’s House Trust) took over the management of it.

Back in the 17th century, this house was owned by Thomas Bayly, a silk merchant. The Great Fire of Marlborough destroyed the original building in 1653 so the front side of the house dates from around 1656 and extensions to the house have been added on over time.

The trust has been gradually restoring the house to what they think it would have looked like in the 17th century. When they took on the house there was nothing in it so it’s been a case of buying, borrowing and negotiating the acquisition of furniture and there are some interesting stories behind some of the pieces.

The staircase of the house is extremely impressive; Ilse was pointing out just how large it is and that this would have been a way to have impressed your guests back in the day.

The tour then takes you through the different rooms of the house including the bedrooms (you can even have a go at laying on one of the beds), the study area where you can handle a 15th century book, the dining room with Turkeywork chairs and brightly coloured walls and the kitchen.

Restoration is still taking place and it’s great to see the work in progress and hear about the passion the volunteers are putting in to making the house back to what they think it would have been like. When we’d come to the end of our tour we saw one of the volunteers working on chair covers for the dining room.

Finally, you are given the opportunity to explore the 17th century garden which has been carefully researched to show the possible style it may have been.
The tour lasts around 90 minutes and gives you a fascinating insight into both the 17th century but also into how a trader in Marlborough may have lived.

Once you’ve visited the house it is worth paying a visit to one of Marlborough’s many independent coffee shops. There’s lots of shopping to be done in the town too with quite a few boutiques so all in all Marlborough makes a great day out or short break.

Related

Marlborough
Market Town
Marlborough (C) Marlborough Town Council

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The Merchants House
Historic House/Palace
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