One of the best known houses in Timsbury is known as Parish’s House built in 1816. It is a Grade II listed building fronted by an ornate balustrade and includes a stable block from the same date. The building has been described as an ‘exquisite miniature of regency design’. Indeed, its design has been ascribed to Thomas Baldwin who designed the Guild Hall in Bath.
Another tradition is that the original owner, Captain John Parish, built the house in about 1816 from his share of the bounty money he acquired from participating in the capture of a Spanish treasure ship. However, part of the house predates Captain Parish. This is an 18th Century building lying behind the present front entrance and was known as ‘Honeylands’. It came to Captain Parish as part of a bequest to his wife Mary Crang. The name may have come from an adjacent field of the same name. Captain Parish died in 1837, but his wife carried on living there until her death in 1877.
Just after the First World War, the house was occupied by a family named Cooper, but only for a short time. They were succeeded by Captain Sherrif and his wife and step-daughter, Betty Allgood, and then by Major Addington. It is interesting to note the number of owners with military titles. Captain Sherrif was thought to be one of the best cricketers that Timsbury ever had and that he attracted large crowds to watch. It is interesting that his groom, George Ford, was the father of the present Ford Oil family. Captain Sherrif’s baby son is buried in the old churchyard, there is a little angel over his tomb.
After Major Addington came Lady Ponsonby who took the house just before the Second World War. She was the widow of Lord Ponsonby, Keeper of the King’s Purse and Equerry to Queen Mary who visited her at the house. During Lady Ponsonby’s occupation the house was completely restored. She employed a London architect, Sir Gerald Wellsley, and she also installed modern electrical wiring. She is remebered as a very tall elegant woman.
By 1944 there was another owner, Lady Mount Temple, who set out to restore the gardens which had been a great feature of the house. Her daughter, the then Duchess of Westminster, visted her in Timsbury. Lady Mountbatten (born Edwina Ashley) was her step-daughter.
After the Second World War, Major B G S Cayzer lived there until his death in 1981. He was a great benefactor to Timsbury and assisted in several major projects including the Conygre Hall, the Youth Club and the cricket clubroom. One of the rooms in Greenhill House is named Parish’s in recognition of Major Cayzer’s donation towards the new East and West wings. Major Cayzer built the covered heated swimming pool and laid out the present rose gardens. In the spring the grounds were a blaze of daffodils and he used to throw the gardens open to the public at this time in aid of charities. In 1981 Greenhill House held its fete there on Easter Sunday.
Major Cayzer was himself the son of a sea captain and he re-introduced the name ‘Parish’s House’ by which it is now known. He was the second son of the Union Castle Shipping Line family.
A more recent owner was Mr McGreavey who originally owned the Great Mills DIY Centre (Now Focus).
Reproduced from ‘The Timsbury Book’ by kind permission of Timsbury Parish Council.