History of Chilton House
The Chilton Manor House dates back to the 11th Century, when the de Canteloe family was gifted the Manor house for their role in the Norman Conquest. The word ‘Chilton’ means the child’s tun or children’s place, and it is believed that this is derived from the fact that novices were trained here for nearby Muchelney Abbey.
The Domesday Book records that the village consisted of a church and 28 dwellings – only three fewer than today. Following the tenure of the de Canteloes and later, of the Earls of Warwick, a succession of local families were associated both with the Manor House and with other nearby manor houses (including Barrington Court, Longleat, Montacute and Parnham). Apart from some medieval fragments, the oldest surviving part of Chilton House dates from the 1690’s and was incorporated into the present building when, in the mid-nineteenth century, the whole was enlarged on a grand scale by Sir John Goodford on his retirement as Provost of Eton.
In the 18th century, the Manor passed from the Countess of Hertford (1729-80) to the Olds of Yeovil and then through marriage to the Goodford family, who moved out of the house in 1924. The House was retained ‘in commission’ until requisitioned for the WRNS from 1942 until 1947, after which time it became a centre for Government Sponsored Training Courses. There is an interesting piece of footage in the Pathe archive showing Chilton Cantelo House as the first Government-sponsored centre to train girls for domestic work. The commentator refers to girls who had done their training at Chilton to becoming graduates of the National Institute of Houseworkers. In the last months of their training, girls spent a few hours each day in nearby houses to gain practical experience.
Afterwards, The Vestey Trust acquired the estate, which was then sold and established as an independent school by the Cotes-James family from 1959-1989. Former pupils from this period have established their own website and more information is available online. The School moved into the direction and ownership of the von Zeffman family in 1989, who oversaw significant refurbishment of the Manor House and an ambitious, on-going programme of renovation and construction of additional buildings on site.
In 2007, Cognita Schools took over the School with Dr John Price (formerly Head of Boarding at Millfield School) as Headmaster. During this time, the school became an all through school offering education from reception through to Sixth Form (which is also the Park School model).
In 2016 Cognita Schools closed its doors and the site was vacant until June 2017 when The Park School took possession of the keys. In the academic year of 2017-2018, The Park School operated across the two sites in Yeovil and at Chilton, with the juniors at Chilton and the Seniors & Sixth Form remaining at Yeovil. From September 2018, the whole school is reunited as one at the Chilton campus.