Situated to the south of Beaminster on the road to Bridport it is well worth recording the long history of this West Dorset house, which has seen foul murder and has had many owners.
The earliest record of Parnham is during the reign of Richard I when it was owned by Stephen de Parnham. The first Parnham House was built around 1400 by the Gerard family. It passed into the hands of the Strode family in the reign of Henry VI when Richard Strode married Elizabeth Gerard, and it remained in that family for three hundred years.
Under the Strodes the estate flourished, not least because of their knack on marrying rich wives, not only did they benefit from large dowries, but each Strode married twice! In 1522 Sir Robert Stroud married the daughter of Sir John Hody, Henry VIII's Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer and her considerable fortune helped him to rebuild Parnham.
In 1776, Parnham descended through the female line to the Oglanders of Nunwell, on the Isle of Wight. William Oglander commissioned the fashionable architect, John Nash, to restore and enlarge the house in 1810.
1896 saw the arrival of Vincent Robinson who, having purchased the house, proceeded to fill it with Renaissance furniture and works of art which he had collected from all over Europe.
Early in the twentieth century the house was bought by Hans Sauer who was intent on restoring the Tudor Interior.
After Sauer's death, Parnham was owned for a while by the Rhodes-Moorhouse family. William Rhodes-Moorhouse was the first pilot to win the Victoria Cross posthumously in the First World War. He is buried in a private grave at Parnham along with his son, another aviator who was born at Parnham, and was shot down in the Battle of Britain during the Second World War.
In the 1920's Parnham became a country club often visited by the then Prince of Wales. During the Second World War it was requisitioned and first used as an army hospital and later as an H.Q. for the American army. Some of the planning for the invasion of France having taken place here.
In 1954 the house was acquired by the Mental Health Association. Changing times however meant that the house became surplus to requirements and was left empty for several years, becoming something of an embarrassment to the local Authorities. However in 1976 it was purchased by the furniture maker John Makepeace as a home for his cabinet making business. Today Parnham is run by a non-profit making Educational Trust which provides funds to run the school for young craftsmen, opened in 1977 to help those whose ambitions were frustrated by lack of a training establishment.