MANOR-HOUSE (Lat. manerium; Fr. manoir), in architecture, the name given to the dwelling-house of the lord of the manor. The manor-house was generally arranged for defence against robbers and thieves and was often surrounded by a moat with drawbridge, but was not provided with a keep or with towers or lofty curtain walls so as to stand a siege. The early buildings were comparatively small, square in plan, comprising a hall with one or two adjacent chambers; at a later period wings were added, thus forming three sides of a quadrangle, like the house designed by John Thorpe as his residence, the plan of which is among his drawings in the Soane Museum. One of the most ancient examples is the manor-house built by Richard Cœur de Lion at Southampton as a rendezvous when he was about to cross into France. This consisted of a hall and chapel on the first floor, with cellars on the ground floor; the walls of this structure, with the chimney-piece, are still in existence. The distinction between the “manor-house” and “castle” is not always very clearly defined; in France such buildings as the castles of Aydon (Northumberland) and of Stokesay (Shropshire) would be regarded as manor-houses in that they were built as country houses and not as fortresses, like Coucy and Pierrefonds; some of the smaller castles in France were, in the 16th century, transformed into manor-houses by the introduction of windows on the second floors of their towers and the partial destruction of their curtain walls, as in the manor-houses of Sedières (Corrèze), Nantouillet and Compiègne; and in the same century, as at Chenonceaux, Blois and Chambord, though angle towers and machicolated parapets still formed part of the design, they were considered to be purely decorative features. The same is found in England; thus in Thornbury and Hurstmonceaux castles, and in Cowdray House, the fortifications were more for show than for use. There is an interesting example of a French manor-house near Dieppe, known as the Manoir-d’Ango, built in 1525, of which a great portion still exists, where the proprietor Ango received François I., so that it must have been of considerable size.
In England the principal examples of which remains exist are the manor-houses of Appleton, Berkshire, with a moat; King John’s house at Warnford (Hampshire); Boothby Ragnell, Lincolnshire, with traces of moat; Godmersham, Kent; Little Wenham Hall, Suffolk, built partly in brick and flint, and one of the earliest in which the bricks, probably imported from Flanders, are found; Charney Hall, Berkshire (T-shaped in plan in two storeys); Longthorpe House, near Peterborough; Stokesay, Shropshire, already referred to; Cottesford, Oxfordshire; Woodcraft, Northamptonshire; Acton Burnell, Shropshire; Old Soar, Plaxtol, Kent, in two storeys, the ground storey vaulted and used as cellar and storehouse, and the upper floor with hall, solar and chapel. The foundation of all these dates from the 13th century. Ightham Mote, Kent, portions of which, with the moat, date from the 14th century, is one of the best preserved manor-houses; then follow Norborough Hall, Northamptonshire; Creslow manor-house, Bucks, with moat; Sutton Courtenay, Berkshire; the Court Lodge, Great Chart, Kent; Stanton St Quentin, Great Chalfield, and South Wraxhall, all in Wilts; Meare manor-house, Somerset; Ockwell, Berks; Kingfield manor-house, Derbyshire; Kirby Muxloe, Leicestershire; Stoke Albany, Northamptonshire; and, in the 16th century, Large Marney Hall, Essex (1520); Sutton Place, Surrey (1530); the Vyne, Hampshire, already influenced by the first Renaissance. In the 17th and 18th centuries the manor-house is generally rectangular in plan, and, though well and solidly built, would seem to have been erected more with a view to internal comfort than to exterior embellishments. There is one other type of manor-house, which partakes of the character of the castle in its design, and takes the form of a tower, rectangular or square, with angle turrets and in several storeys; in France it is represented by the manor-houses of St Medard near Bordeaux and Camarsae (Dordogne), and in England by Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire and Middleton Tower, Norfolk, both being in brick. (R. P. S.)