A house has stood on the site now occupied by Dorney Court since the dark ages but it was in the mid-fifteenth century that the current building began to take shape.

It has been nearly six hundred years since the Great Hall and the Parlour were laid out and during that period the history of England has been nothing less than remarkable.  Dorney Court and its contents  tell the story of England and of the people who have lived in the House.

  • 1537

  • William Gerrard William Garrard, Lord Mayor of London in 1555, purchased the Dorney manor and 600 acres


  • 1621

  • Sir Thomas Palmer (1540 – 1625) was created baronet, a title lost on the death of the 6th Baronet in 1838. During the reign James I, members of the Palmer family had distinguished themselves in military service and served at the Royal Court.

  • 1583 ~ 1657

  • James Palmer James Palmer (pictured) of Wingham married William Garrard’s youngest daughter, Martha and came to live at Dorney Court.


  • 1615 ~ 1683

  • Roger PalmerSir Philip Palmer, Colonel in the Royalist army and cupbearer to Charles II. He stood surety for the crown for £11,000 in 1667 for Dudley Rowse who failed. This resulted in the Dorney Estate being conveyed to Roger Palmer, Earl of Castlemaine (pictured), who paid off the debt.


  • 1634 ~ 1705

  • Barbara Villiers Roger Palmer, Philip’s younger half-brother, married Barbara Villiers (Pictured with her daughter Anne), whose unbridles behaviour gained her notoriety and the attention of Charles II. In 1661 she had a daughter, Anne. The King insisted that Anne bore the additional appellation of ‘Fitzroy’ – fille de roi – meaning child of the King. Roger Palmer was imprisoned for his staunch support of Catholicism on more than one occasion despite his loyalty to the Monarchy.

  • 1651 ~ 1714

  • Charles Palmer, a Catholic and a serving soldier, resigned at the time of the Glorious Revolution. He was a skilled musician and was indicted for recusancy in 1693.


  • 1706 ~ 1773

  • Sir Charles Palmer 5th Bart, an unsuccessful financier.

  • 1731 ~ 1764

  • Captain Charles Palmer of the Honourable East India Company. He was Ensign in the 2nd Regiment of Foot Guards. On 2nd September 1752 he married the lovely Miss Sarah Clack in a clandestine marriage. He resigned from the army and was transferred to the HEIC. He was at the recaputure of Calcutta in 1757 and at Clive’s famous victory at Plassey in the same year. He died in Sumatra in 1764, having returned home just once in 1760 to beget a son and heir.

  • 1760 ~ 1838

  • Sir Charles Harcourt Palmer, 6th Bart. He lived briefly at Powerderham Castle. He sold the Welsh Estates. His marriage to his cousin Caroline Bonin was never established with the College of Arms and the Baronetcy became extinct.

  • 1778 ~ 1865

  • Henry Palmer Henry Palmer (pictured) inherited Dorney Estates and became Vicar of Dorney. He was a great traveller and oversaw alterations to the chuch of St. James the Less. Married to Sarah Gerrard (1808 – 1901).


  • 1828 ~ 1895

  • Charles James Palmer, farmer and engineer, articled to I. K. Brunel.

  • 1872 ~ 1939

  • Charles & Wenna Col. Charles Palmer was a young officer with the Royal Leicestershire Regiment when he inherited the Dorney Estates less than a decade before the death of Queen Victoria. He restored Dorney Court to its original Tudor appearance. Before the outbreak of the First World War the Colonel had removed, restored and revised the buildings to a standard recognised by scholars as an outstanding example of Tudor architecture. His wife, Wenna, received the R.S.P.C.A’s silver medal for rescuing a horse from drowning on Dorney Common.

  • 1902 ~ 1979

  • Lt. Col. Philip Palmer served throughout the Second World War with the Royal Leicestershire Regiment. He saved and preserved Dorney Court during the critical post-war years.

1914-1919: WORLD WAR I

  • 1938 ~ 1998

  • Peregrine & Jane PalmerPeregrine Palmer (pictured left) worked throughout his life to restore and bring new life to Dorney Court. The house was opened to the public in 1981, the same year his son, James was born. After his death in 1998, his wife Jill and their sons James, Freddie and Leopold have all worked hard to keep the house as a family home.

    The present family’s contributions include the continuing restoration of the garden, the latest portraits and their contemporary furniture which contrast and complement the long history of the house.Peregrine Palmer Family

  • 1981

  • James PalmerJames Palmer. James and his wife Anna now look after the House and have the great pleasure of living in Dorney.