In search of Maggot’s

Seymour Wroughton Esq was a moneyed member of the gentry who owned land in Easterton, Eastcott and elsewhere. His estate included a 1732 building called Castle House, built near a steep ridge of greensand known as Maggot’s Castle. In 1758 Seymour rebuilt the house. It was quite a lavish affair. The house was large with garrets, cellars, and extensive outhousing. Its dining- and drawing-rooms were well furnished and the library stocked with works on various topics including literature, philosophy, and gardening. There were at least six bedchambers. The Formal gardens were laid out around three ornamental fish ponds. The house took on the local name and became Maggot’s Castle and was also called Folly House.

These fishponds might have been, literally, the downfall of the house, which became derelict very quickly. In the first winter after the rebuild substantial damage was done to the house by water. After Seymour’s death in 1789, the house rapidly fell apart.

It is said that the foundations could still be seen at the end of the nineteenth century. By 1973 it was felt that the outline of the ponds could be seen along with a carriageway and the site of a gazebo.

On October 1st 2011, our curator decided to go and find what might be seen, following a request for information.

Without prior knowledge, actually locating Wroughton’s Folly, as it became called, was difficult.

The 1773 survey by Andrews and Drury does show the site.

A part of the Andrews and Drury survey of 1773

Close up on Maggot's Castle

It is quite hard to line this area up with a modern map. There are no actual roads in the area but in 1900 the railway was built and that caused tracks to change.

Having found the right area we believe we can still make out three ponds. There was no actual water in them but there are depressions in the ground with lush grass growing. Finding any foundations might be a job for Time Team now!

We think Maggot's Castle was across the field where the trees now grow

It is now a very remote area. Some people suggest the area is haunted by Seymour, who, allegedly, broke his neck in a carriage accident.

We’d love to know more about this distant edge of Easterton parish. Can you help?

As an aside, the stables at the Fire Brigade headquarters in Potterne were made from materials from Seymour Wroughton’s Folly. This extract comes from the March 2008 edition of the Wiltshire Fire Service on-line magazine.

Like the Manor House, the Stables at HQ are Grade II listed. They have a hipped slate roof with an octagonal timber cupola with an ogee-cap (a concave arc flowing into a convex arc, forming an S shaped curve with vertical ends) and a large weather vane.

Other features include two arched coach entries and a Tudor-style brick chimney on the rear roof slope. It is believed that the materials used for the stables came from Maggots Castle at Easterton, known locally as Wroughton’s Folly. It was built in 1750 by Mr. Seymour-Wroughton and on his death in c.1790, the Castle fell into disrepair, was pulled down and the materials taken to Potterne to build the Stables in 1800.


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2 Responses to “In search of Maggot’s”

  1. marketlavingtonmuseum Says:

    It would seem that I have the location wrong here. The three clear ponds visible seem to be about a quarter of a mile from the site now identified in a number of documents.



  2. Don Coleman Says:

    I was interested to read the articles about Wroughton Folly as I tried to research its history a few years ago. The site is said to be on the O.S. map 173, grid ref 018570. Does this pin point it any better?
    The story of the holy man’s cave is interesting as there is a legend of Quabb’s Hole. It was dug in the sand above Maggot Castle where Quabb, a loner, poacher and petty thief lived. He died there and the hole was found to be full of sheepskins and feathers. It was then filled in and forgotten.
    On the map shown there is sited Dr Batter’s, which is now Fiddington Farm. He was a herbalist of some note at the time. There were several generations of Batters around at the time, does anyone have more information about this gentleman?

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