DiCamillo Companion

Bingham's Melcombe House (Melcombe Bingham Manor)

  • Earlier Houses: Originally the seat of the Norman Turberville family, the first house (destroyed) came into the possession of the Binghams in the 13th century when Sir Robert Turberville’s daughter and heiress, Lucy, married Robert Bingham. The Binghams remained at Bingham’s Melcombe (at both the first and second houses) until the late 19th century. Thomas Hardy very likely used the Turbervilles as an inspiration for his famous 1891 novel, "Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman." And Parson Tringham, the vicar who informs John Durbeyfield (Tess’s father) of his noble lineage was almost certainly modeled on The Rev. Charles William Bingham, a 19th century rector of Bingham’s Melcombe and an expert on Dorset history whom Hardy knew and consulted.

    House & Family History: The north porch of the current house has an early classical pedimented doorway (dated 1583) from Tyneham House. During World War II members of the Auxiliary Units occupied the estate. In 2024 Bingham's Melcombe House, together with 112 acres, was listed for sale for £8 million. In 2014, Melcombe, one of Lexington, Kentucky's, great houses, was listed for sale for $3.3 million. The house was purchased in 1918 by Judge Robert Worth Bingham (later ambassador to the Court of St. James's) and renamed Melcombe in honor of Bingham's Melcombe House, his family's ancestral seat. The Binghams were a powerful southern media family (they owned "The Courier-Journal" and "The Louisville Times") who made Melcombe a gathering place for the powerful and famous in the 20th century.

  • Architect: Geoffrey Alan Jellicoe

    Date: 1949
    Designed: Restored gardens

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  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II

  • Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT FIRST HOUSE: Sir Robert Turberville, 13th century. Robert Bingham, 13th century. SEATED AT SECOND (CURRENT) HOUSE: Bingham family, here from the 16th century until 1895. Reginald Bosworth-Smith and his daughter, Lady Grogan, 1895-1948. Francis John Stephens Hopwood, 1st Baron Southborough, 20th century. Langham family, until 2024.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

  • House Open to Public: No

    Historic Houses Member: No