The Merchant’s House - History and Facts | History Hit

The Merchant’s House

Marlborough, England, United Kingdom

The Merchant’s House in Marlborough is a fine example of a 17th century silk merchant’s home.

Amy Irvine

31 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Alamy

About The Merchant’s House

The Merchant’s House is a restoration of a 17th century silk merchant’s house – now a Grade II structure located in the centre of Marlborough’s historic High Street.

History of The Merchant’s House

One of the earliest Civil War battles took place in Marlborough in 1642. Eleven years later, The Merchant’s House was built by Thomas Bayly following the Great Fire of Marlborough in 1653 that destroyed the majority of the medieval and tudor town.

Thomas Bayly was a prosperous silk merchant and prominent citizen of Marlborough (twice its Mayor) and lived in the house with his wife, 9 children and servants, as well as running his business from there. Bayly lived in the house during a time of great change both locally and nationally in a century when a modern capitalist Britain with a maturing political life was emerging.

The house was improved and extended until 1700, then later sub-divided and sublet, with around two-thirds of the property becoming a printer and stationer business. This was ultimately purchased by W H Smith in 1926.

The Merchant’s House today

The House is being restored by a charitable trust and presents a rare opportunity to view a 17th century house, providing an insight into the lifestyle and interests of a middle-class family of the time. Many splendours are being revealed as the conservation progresses including fabric, and original 300 year old wall paintings currently unknown elsewhere in the UK.

Behind The Merchant’s House is a garden which has been modelled on the formal designs of the late 17th century. All plants have been carefully researched and were grown in the UK before 1700 including a small orchard and herb garden.

Tours of the house and gardens are available by a specialist volunteer guide, and take about an hour.

Getting to The Merchant’s House

The Merchant’s House is located at what is now 132/3 High Street in Marlborough, 75 miles from London and 30 miles from Bath. If travelling here by car, from London take M4, leave at junction 14, and take the A4 for Marlborough – if approaching from the West, take the M4, leave at junction 15, then take the A346 for Marlborough. The Merchant’s House is on the North Side of the High Street, approximately 100 yards from the Town Hall.

Entrance to the House is through the Merchant’s House Shop. The House has disabled access via a stairlift from the ground floor to the first floor which allows access to the principal rooms.