Marwell Zoological Park

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HCC Site ID: 1563 Parish: Owslebury
Designations: Hall LB I, SINC, SMR Area:
Access: Public Access to Zoo only Ownership: Marwell Zoological Park

Location and Site

The Zoological Park lies just north of the B2177 to Bishop’s Waltham to the east of Colden Common. It is situated on the lower slopes of farmland that rises to the village of Owlesbury in the north.

Historic Development

Marwell Hall is an ancient estate first recorded in a Domesday reference and owned by the Church and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, till the Reformation. A 14th century house built by Walter Woodcock was probably re-built in the early 16th century by the Seymour family. Henry VIII is reputed to have visited Jane Seymour here. It was later owned by the Brett and Dacre families. In 1798, the Long family took ownership and extensive alterations were made after 1815 by Mr William Long in Tudor style, incorporating parts of the old house. They also planted what is now a huge cedar; the Hall then stood in about 7 acres of well-wooded grounds. The medieval timber-framed base cruck hall remians. In 1841 it was owned by John Gully and from 1867-1933, by the Standish family. During World War II Mr and Mrs Hayes lived there and  the grounds were used as an airfield for fighter aircraft.

In 1969 the Hall and the enlarged park of 417 acres of land were sold to John Knowles, who opened a zoo in 1972. He made the Hall his home until 1980 when it became the offices for Marwell Zoological Park.

The garden immediately around the house is mainly on the east front. To the north are terraced lawns with cedar trees and a long north wall with a central summerhouse built into it and a wide border along it. Beyond it were sheltering plantations, an orchard and shady woodland walks and an ancient Yew Walk to Whaddon Lane.
To the south were extensive outbuildings, including a brick well-house, stables, a coach house and garages and a walled kitchen garden with a variety of espalier and wall fruit trees and glasshouses.

Current Description

Now aslo known as Marwell Wildlife, Marwell is world-famous as an ecological centre and has become a major tourist attraction. There are many new buildings on the site and a new entrance with car parks. The Hall is an hotel.
Marwell Wildlife has amongst its other attractions areas representing the habitat of Africa and a tropical Madagascan habitat within the flint-walled kitchen garden.

The whole now stands in 100 acres.


Originally a deer park, a Medieval Hall re-built by William Long after 1815, incorporating part of the older house with ardens immediately around the house with the main part on the E front. Park became a zoo in 1972, now extended to 100 acres and world-renowned ecological centre. Hall is now a hotel.

HGT Research: July 2002

Our address

Owslebury Public Access to Zoo only Click for Disclaimer & copyright
50.99032217828732, -1.2839641567552462

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