Marlborough’s own secret marvel – The Merchant House

August 14, 2017 at 5:08 pm Leave a comment

I am thoroughly ashamed to admit I have only ever visited The Merchant’s House for gift shopping or seasonal decorations when they open the upstairs room with the marvellously hilly original wooden floor for festive purchases.
Today I took a guided tour with the extremely knowledgeable guide Ilse, and was enthralled by what the Merchant’s House trustees have achieved over the last 25 years or so since they leased the building from Wiltshire Council who acquired it back from WH Smiths in the late 1990’s.

interesting stripe painted design – unusual for merchant classes

a wig powder shaker

authentic costumes for dressing up as the former silk merchant and his wife

fabulous replica of an original bedspread now in York

pattons for keeping silk slippers above the puddles when alighting from a carriage


fireplace stripped back

a servant’s bedroom

view from upstairs window towards Whitehorse bookshop of a similar age

explanation of ‘sleep tight’

beautifully repaird floorboards

odds and ends

original 16th century Book of Martyrs – there for the handling

walls stripped back

view of the High Street



light interior

Mary Beale portrait

interesting carved chest with corrected inscription

What Durer and others thought a hippopotamus looked like

curious fly in the window with jokey Latin inscription

The photos showing how the rooms above what is essentially the gift shop were used to house WH Smith’s manager are a telling insight into the amount of restoration required to turn back the clock to reveal the home of Mr and Mrs Bayly, silk merchants with a fascination for striped decoration, unusual in the middle classes.

The renovation is an ongoing project, with a museum for Marlborough being created in the adjoining upstairs building (above Clarks shoe shop). What is fascinating about the Baylys is that they claimed money from Cromwell to rebuild their home as the original was lost during the Great Fire of Marlborough in 1653 (carefully documented in The Secret Adventures of Rolo book 1 Athelstan and the Time Tunnel, when my time travelling Jack Russell rescues a cat family from the inferno of St Mary’s church)

£7.50 well spent, and happy to support this marvellous piece of local history being sympathetically restored. Do visit, and encourage visitors to Marlborough to enjoy and be amazed!


Entry filed under: culture, history. Tags: , , , , , , , .

It’s exhausting being a famous canine author eh #rolodogblog ? 🐶🐾latest from Rolodogblog Saturday October 14, 11:00am: The Secret Adventures of Rolo – book signing with Debi Evans (& Rolo the dog)

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Debi Evans

Debi Evans

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