Property Details

Property Details

Development Property

Codicote Road, Welwyn, Welwyn, Hertfordshire
Branch: . 6a High Street, Welwyn, Herts. AL6 9EG. 01438 718877


Offers in excess of £1,750,000

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A unique opportunity to acquire this landmark property!

Closing date for offers - 30th November 2017

Vacant possession not before November 2018


    Guessens is an Historic Welwyn property located in the centre of the village opposite St Marys Church. It stands in parkland grounds of 2 acres and dates from the 17th Century. It was remodelled in 1730 when a Georgian front was added, at that time, it was the home of Edward Young, Rector of Welwyn and poet. The house has been added to over the years; once in the mid -19th Century on south side and again in early 20th Century to the north, in total the accommodation extends to approximately 10,000 square feet. It is listed grade II* and recognised by English Heritage as a building of significant historical importance.

    The European Missionary Fellowship (EMF) a charitable organisation, have owned the property since 1985 and now wish to dispose of the freehold. A formal planning appraisal by Philips Planning Services has been carried out to explore alternative uses, but no planning permission for alternate use has been submitted.

    EMF are prepared to keep an open mind with regard to any viable proposals within the confines of reasonable expectation.
    Should Guessens be of interest, you are invited to inspect the property on an appointment only basis, please contact sole agent Bryan Bishop & Partners for the attention of Martin Bishop on or call on 01438 718877

    Local Authority

    Welwyn & Hatfield Borough Council, telephone 01707 357000 (Planning Department) or email


    The European Missionary Fellowship, Guessens, 6 Codicote Road, Welwyn AL6 9NB. The trustee dealing with the site is Daniel Grimwade.


    The trustees of the European Missionary Fellowship reserve the right to withdraw the site from sale should a satisfactory option to purchase agreement not be reached with any of the participants.

    Guessens's History

    Guessens - one of Welwyn's most historic houses

    Adapted from an article by F. E. Ballin

    In the Codicote Road at Welwyn opposite the west door of St. Marys Church stands an interesting old house whose name stems from a 14th Century farmer. This was Stephen de Guessing and his farmhouse was a timber-framed building of two storeys.

    Guessens, as the house has been called for many centuries in its present form, is thought to have been built in the late Elizabethan or early Stuart period, but was extensively rebuilt in the 18th Century by Edward Young. In the third storey there yet remains some half timbering, probably Tudor.
    After the Guessing family came the Langleys and in the 17th Century a family of tanners owned Guessens. This family were puritans and in 1603 Clement Manesty is recorded as bequeathing his copy of Foxes Book of Martyrs in his will. In those days books were rare and expensive and this must have been one of his most prized possessions. In 1695 Samuel Manesty is recorded as having registered Guessens as a place of Non-conformist worship. In view of its present ownership it is fascinating to note that we have an interesting connection between 1695 and now. However, Samuel Manesty did not remain in Welwyn for the rest of his life as he went to London to study law and some of his descendants have continued to follow the legal profession until the present day.
    The freehold came later into the possession of Robert Gelsthorpe who died in 1731 and left Guessens, Holly Hall and property in Little Ayot to the trustees of Sarah Percey, from whom Edward Young leased Guessens. Edward Young was a most famous rector, of St. Marys, and also a noted poet. He was born at Upham in Hampshire in 1681, where his father, also the Rev. Edward Young was rector. He was educated at Winchester and Oxford and soon found fame as a poet and playwright. On his appointment to the cure of souls at Welwyn he found the old 15th Century rectory near Mill Lane too small for his needs and those of his future wife, the Lady Elizabeth Lee. Lady Elizabeth was the widow of Colonel Lee and a daughter of the Earl of Lichfield, descended from one of the Merry Monarchs numerous descendants.

    Young was approaching his half-century when he came to Welwyn and it was in the following year that he married Lady Elizabeth. In his early years, he wrote a play called The brothers, but being afraid that it would not be favourably received in high places he withdrew it just before it could be produced and a quarter of a century elapsed before it appeared on the stage. It was about this time that he took Holy Orders and being well known in court circles was appointed chaplain to George II soon after his accession to the deep interest the tablet which Frederick Young had recently erected to his fathers memory.
    Frederick Young died in 1788 and we cannot trace his immediate successor. In 1812 Guessens was bought by a notable classical scholar. This was Henry Fynes-Clinton, who was a descendant of Henry, 2nd Earl of Newcastle-under-Lyme. He entered Parliament in 1807 and between that date and 1826 represented Aldborough. Aged seventy-one he died in 1852.
    One of the most colourful Characters in 19th Century Hertfordshire was George Edward Dering, lord of the ancient manor of Lockleys. Many are the tales told of his inventive genius and his scientific interests, but he was ever anxious to extend the bounds of his ancestral domain. In the middle years of the 19th century he acquired several of the old houses in Welwyn and after a classical owner, Guessens obtained a scientific master.

    His daughter, Rosa Georgina Neall inherited Lockleys in 1911 and the last tenant of the Lockleys estate was the widow of William Douro Hoare, a member of an old banking family. Hoare was a director of the Bank of England from 1898 until his death in 1928, and also held various City directorships. From 1915 to 1918 he was a churchwarden of St. Marys, Welwyn and with his wife took an active part in the life of the village. In his time, the conference room was extended by the late Jim Adams.
    Mrs. Hoare continued to live at Guessens until her death in 1944 and from 1936 was a tenant of the Welwyn Garden City Company, to whom Richard Neall, the last squire of Lockleys had sold Guessens with other properties in Welwyn in that year.
    After Mrs. Hoares death the house was leased to the Plastics Division of Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd., and in 1950 the freehold was transferred to Danesbury Properties Ltd. For some time Guessens was occupied by the Terylene Council of ICI and Lord Beeching, later to be famous for his railway cuts, had his office there.

    In 1955 the Welwyn Evangelical Church, at the instigation of the Rev. Ian Tait, who was the pastor and under an amazing providence of the Lord accompanied by Ian's vision acquired Guessens. This was to be used as a manse for the Tait family with their six children. They were joined by a large number of students and other local young people, who also shared the Tait family home. As a result, many were converted, instructed and
    discipled for later enthusiastic church and missionary work. Elderly friends were also cared for there.
    For 15 years, the Westminster Fellowship met at Guessens during the Summer, with Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones in the chair. The morning would be given over to airing a Theological problem and the afternoon to working out its practical implications. Numbers grew to 230 in attendance.
    Another change came in 1981 when the European Missionary Fellowship relocated their headquarters to Guessens, being used for all its administration work as well as hospitality for missionaries and the 12 or so students each year for the School of Biblical Studies.




    6a High Street, Welwyn, Hertfordshire, AL6 9EG
    Tel: 01438 718877
    Fax: 01438 716668