I WAS looking though some old Salisbury Journal newspapers the other day and this little snippet from 1968 caught my eye.

It highlighted the first freehold of a property in the Cathedral Close to be put on sale by the Dean and Chapter and it was being offered by Messrs. Strutt and Parker in conjunction with Messrs. Woolley and Wallis.

The property was the historic Malmesbury House which stands near to St Ann’s Gate. The eastern façade of the building incorporates the 14th Century Close wall overlooking St John’s Street.

The article stated that King Charles II was reputed to have been hidden in the house after the disastrous battle of Worcester and one of the bedrooms was still called “King Charles Room”.

The house was transformed by James Harris who married the daughter of the second Earl of Shaftesbury in the early 18th Century.

James Harris added the western portion of the house, and the decorations were probably carried out in the 1740s by his son James, whose son and heir was the first Earl of Malmesbury, and from whom the house takes its name.

The interior was said to be one of the finest in the Close. Pevsner describes it as “strikingly splendid”.

It is thought that the panelling of the western rooms and stairs balustrade are early 18th Century as are the rich plaster decoration of ceilings and walls.

The house which was for sale in 1968 featured an entrance hall with early 18th Century staircase, and rich mid 18th Century plaster decorations; drawing room with magnificent early 18th Century cornice and panelling; dining room; Gothic library; eight bedrooms; four bathrooms; and extensive domestic offices.

In addition there was a partly walled garden containing a 17th Century Orangery.

The asking price in 1968 was a snip at £20,000!

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