Botley Hill Farmhouse is part of the Titsey Foundation, a charitable trust set up in 1979 to manage and preserve the Titsey Place manor house, its contents and grounds for public benefit. The Titsey Estate covers some 1,800 acres of farm and woodland, as well as 26 cottages and farmhouses, of which Botley Hill Farmhouse is one.
The Titsey Estate was purchased by Sir John Gresham in the 16th century from Lord Berners, who had been granted the Estate by King Henry VIII. It remained in the Gresham family for over 450 years until it was gifted by Major Richard and Mr Thomas Gresham Leveson-Gower.
Sir John Gresham was a prosperous merchant and became Sherriff of London in 1537. Botley Hill Farmhouse was purchased in 1546 and contains a magnificent fireplace bearing inscriptions thought to be of Turkish origin, along with some of the flagstones in the floor. It is believed that these stones were brought as ballast in the hold of one of Sir John Gresham's Merchant ships in the early 16th century.
Probably the most famous of the Greshams was Sir Thomas (1519-1579), Sir John's nephew. Like his uncle he became a member of the Mercers Company in 1543. His father Sir Richard was Lord Mayor of London in 1537, the same year as his brother John was Sheriff of London, perhaps the only time that two brothers have held such roles simultaneously.
Sir Thomas Gresham became not only a successful merchant but also acted for the Crown by arranging loans on the continent. These dealings were carried out in Antwerp in a building known as a bourse, where men guaranteed credit, raised loans and negotiated financial support. Real tangible goods gave way to bills of exchange. No such building existed in the City of London and in 1565 Sir Thomas sent word to the City Corporation that he would build at his own expense a bourse or exchange for London's merchants, on condition that the City provided a suitable site for it. A site on the north side of Cornhill was purchased for the sum of £3,532,17s, 2d. On 23rd January 1571, Queen Elizabeth I visited the finished building and proclaimed that in future it should be known as the Royal Exchange. On top of the building was placed a golden grasshopper, the Gresham family crest.
The original Royal Exchange building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and the second Royal Exchange building was also destroyed by fire on the night of 10th January 1838. Following this destruction, the foundation stone for a new Royal Exchange was laid by Prince Albert in 1842 and the building was opened by Queen Victoria on 18th October 1844. A statue of Sir Thomas Gresham is to be found on the eastern face of the Tower and the weather vane is surmounted by a golden grasshopper.
The Gresham golden grasshopper is still an important symbol in the area around the Titsey Estate, forming a part of local coats of arms, and can be seen atop the Botley Hill Farmhouse sign at the roadside. The Farmhouse also has two rooms named 'The Gresham' and 'The Grasshopper', the latter of which is home to the grand fireplace.
In more recent times Botley Hill Farmhouse was a tea room for over half a century, famous for its cream teas, and it continues this tradition for hospitality today. Its stunning views across the North Downs are spectacular and the spot is a favourite with walkers, cyclists and families.
Our wines have been hand selected for us - the choice includes old world, new world and sparkling wines to delight any wine buff.
Tempted to try something from one of our menus? Please contact us to request your table - we look forward to welcoming you.