History

Whilst there is some evidence of pre-Roman inhabitants, it is clear that there was an active Roman farm at Beaconsfield during the 3rd and 4th Centuries, developing the farmland across the Estate.

During the Saxon period, Great Tew acquired the name Ciric Tiwa, or Church Tew, giving rise to Aelfric, Abbot of St Albans, holding the Estate while Archbishop of Canterbury 995-1005. After the Norman Conquest, Great Tew was given, by William 1st, to his brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux.

After several other owners, Lucius Carey, Second Viscount Falkland, inherited the Estate in 1629. The Estate gained a certain romantic distinction under Falkland’s ownership as the influential ‘Great Tew Circle’ often met here to discuss important political and theological matters. Along with his wife Lettice, he was responsible for improving many of the buildings and fostering a happy community.  He became Secretary of State to Charles I before the Civil War, and was killed at the Battle of Newbury.

Great Tew was sold in 1698 to Sir Anthony Keck and later to George Stratton. By this time the original Falkland House had been pulled down and so Stratton’s son commissioned Humphrey Repton to design a new house sitting in a re-landscaped parkland setting. Although this house was never built, the subsequent owner Matthew Robinson Boulton (son of Matthew Boulton of Birmingham) seems to have inherited many of Repton’s ideas for the landscape, which are still apparent across the Estate.

During Matthew Robinson Boulton’s ownership (and that of his sons, Matthew Piers Watt and Matthew Ernest) a huge program of building work was undertaken both in the village and more particularly, on farm complexes elsewhere on the Estate. Improvements to the farmland were also made and in 1877 Great Tew was described as “one of the best farmed parishes in the Midland Counties”.

After a period of negligent administration by The Public Trustee, Major Eustace Robb inherited the Estate in 1962 and immediately set about a gradual program of improvements. Farms were taken back in hand, cottages refurbished and a sewerage system for the village was installed. This process took time and money but by Major Robb’s death in 1985 significant progress had been made.

The Estate now belongs to the Johnston Family, whom have continued to show the same passion and dedication as Major Robb, by way of an ongoing schedule of renovation, refurbishment and improvements to the Village and surrounding properties. In the last few years a number of new businesses have been developed on the Estate, for example the ironstone quarry, and this is a pattern that looks likely to continue through the 21st Century.