According to legend, the Pusey family were awarded the lands of Pusey in Berkshire by King Canute (AD 995-1035) as a reward for services rendered. Such legends are not uncommon in old English families and although modern historians have debunked many, there may always be a grain of truth in them somewhere. What is certain is that the land was held by the Puseys under an ancient form of land tenure known as Cornage whereby the tenant had to undertake to keep on the alert and to be ready to blow a warning horn in case of invasion by enemies and in particular the Scots. This form of tenure was usually more prevalent in the north of England. The original Pusey Horn, preserved by the family for centuries, is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The family died out in 1710. Several families changed their name to Pusey in order to inherit the estate. It was one of the last Pusey descendants, John Allen, who instigated the building of the present Pusey House in 1748. It is a beautiful five bay two-and-a-half-storey mansion with two-storey wings. Allen had come into the estate through his mother, who was a Pusey heiress, and he added the name of Pusey to his own. It was he who built the charming little parish church in the classical style which houses a fine marble monument to himself and his wife by the Dutch sculptor Scheemakers. John Allen Pusey died childless and his sisters, Mrs. Brotherton and Miss Jane Pusey, inherited the estate jointly. The temple at the end of the herbaceous border is a memorial to Mrs. Brotherton and contains a statue of her and busts of the four cardinal virtues. It was erected as a memorial by her sister Jane Pusey who was to die unmarried, the last of the Puseys of Pusey.
Miss Jane Pusey looked around for an heir to her estates and chose the Hon. Philip Bouverie, a younger son of the 1st Viscount Folkestone and brother of the 1st Earl of Radnor. Philip Bouverie's aunt had been the wife of John Allen Pusey but, as there were no children and as the Puseys seemed to have come to an end, the estate was bequeathed to Philip, who was not in any way related by blood to the Puseys, on the understanding that he would assume their name and arms which he did. His mother, Lady Folkestone, was a formidable woman and prevented him from marrying when a young man. She lived with him at Pusey where he carried out many experiments in industrial farming including installing the first reaping machine. He was a founder of the Royal Agricultural Society. On his mother's death he married, at the age of fifty-two, a young widow and had in all nine children. His second son, born on August 22nd 1800, was the Rev. Dr. Edward Bouverie-Pusey D.D., Canon of Christ Church and Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford - a distinguished scholar. But he was to become more than that. His name became synonymous with the Oxford Movement and the extraordinary upheaval in religious thinking which occurred during the 19th century. Of all the Tractarians - Newman, Froude, Keble and the rest, he alone gave his name to a group - the Puseyites - who, though retaining their original enthusiasm for a return to catholic principles strove to prevent others from following his friend and mentor John Henry Newman on the road to Rome.
Edward was educated at Eton and Christ Church. His mother, Lady Lucy Bouverie-Pusey, was a relic of the 18th century - her speech and her habits were a hangover from that time and she was one of the last to use a sedan chair in London. Pusey and its estate had considerable effect upon the young Edward. Geoffrey Faber in his Oxford Apostles wrote of the Georgian house'. . . standing where manor house had followed manor-house for a thousand years, looking over water and trees and the miles of Pusey land to the unchanging outline of the downs, house and church and tiny village keeping company together as they had done for centuries - all this spoke to the boy of a permanent, immutable yet gracious and living order, the soul of which was the living mystery of a religion once and for ever revealed.' Pusey today, perhaps even more, exudes this feeling. In 1822 he was elected a Fellow of Oriel and so came into contact with Newman and Keble. He worked with these two on the famous 'Tracts for the Times' and was to become leader of the Oxford Movement. Although it was feared that he might follow Newman to Rome, and although he was accused at one point of heresy, he never wavered in his loyalty to the basic tenets of Anglicanism. Later he pressed for unity with Rome, but the Vatican itself prevented any move towards this end. Up to his death in 1882 he consistently maintained that the true doctrines of the Church of England were enshrined in the works of the early church fathers and the neglected 17th century Anglican divines. After his death Pusey House was founded in Oxford to continue his work and to house his library. His portrait and surplice are preserved in Pusey Church.
On the death of Philip Bouverie-Pusey, the estate was inherited by his eldest son, Edward's elder brother Philip. This son had two children, Sidney Bouverie-Pusey who inherited Pusey and Clara who was married to Captain Francis Fletcher. Sidney died childless and Pusey went to his nephew Philip Francis Fletcher who adopted the name and arms of Bouverie-Pusey.
The estate was sold in 1935 to the the Hornby family who, by a curious and happy coincidence, have as their crest a horn similar to that owned by the Puseys and which is carved on the marble chimneypiece in the entrance hall of the house.
Edited from an old guidebook (1978).
Pusey House is a private house. The gardens are no longer open to the public. It was last offered for sale in 1998.
|© Nash Ford Publishing 2004. All Rights Reserved. The location of this house is now administered by Oxfordshire County Council.|