The Story Behind 'Saving the Manor'

In honor of co-hosts Dean and Borja's manor restoration project, we did a little deep dive into the history of their manor — as well as manors in general. Here's what we learned.

Photo by: Joel Knight

Joel Knight

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Take a trip with us across the pond to explore Warwickshire, a manor encompassing five buildings and 65 rooms, formerly owned by King Henry VII. Sounds cool, right? Well, it's now the subject of HGTV’s latest renovation series, Saving the Manor. Come Friday, October 7, at 10/9c, we'll get to watch English-born architect Dean Poulton and Spanish-born real estate expert Borja De Maqua restore the estate — specifically the manor — on the property to its former glory.

The couple has owned and been restoring the grounds, as well as various buildings around the manor, for the past three years, but they decided to save the best and most personal renovation for last. “We always planned that the manor house was going to be the icing on the cake,” Borja says. “Because [if we started restorations] with the manor house, which is where we want to be living, we’d lose a bit of interest in everything else, right?”

Each episode of Saving the Manor will introduce viewers to a different soon-to-be-renovated space. “We live in a throwaway society where even houses are only supposed to last 30 years,” Dean says. “This house has lasted a couple hundred and once we’re finished with it, we’re hoping it will last another couple hundred.”

If you're now fully invested in this reno and *need* to know more — same. Luckily, we turned to the experts, Borja and Dean themselves, and did a little bit of research to learn all there is to know about manors, estates and their history.

Here's what we discovered.

1. A Manor Lives on an Estate

According to the Oxford Dictionary, an estate is “a large area of land, usually in the country, that is owned by one person or family.” Meanwhile, Merriam-Webster notes that a manor is often characterized as an estate with a large central house and surrounding buildings.

In the case of Saving the Manor, the estate features five buildings (and 65 rooms total between them). While Dean and Borja have been chipping away at restoring the grounds and the servants' houses on the property for the past three years, they’ve saved the best for last: the manor house.

2. A Manor Is Different From a Castle or a Palace

Manors, castles and palaces have all been enjoyed and inhabited by royals throughout history, but there’s a difference between them. For starters, castles are fortified (meaning they have a military defense to protect their lands and territories), while manors and palaces are not. Palaces are characterized by luxury and excess, while manors, which are often nestled in the country, are built to be self-sustainable villages. In short, where castles and palaces are large, luxurious single structures, manors feature multiple buildings within a fenced or walled tract of land (the estate), with a large central home where the lord or owner lives. A manor is ultimately meant to be a self-sustainable property where you can grow your own crops — complete with servents' quarters, a blacksmith, a gardener's cottage, stables, etc.

3. Warwickshire Has a Rich History

The estate, located in the quaint coaching town of Coleshill, is centuries old and was formerly owned by King Henry VII. Gifted from the royals to a family that passed it along its lineage before eventually selling it to Dean and Borja, the estate (and the manor house on it) has a fascinating history.

“We’re the second owners after the king, which is a weird thing to think about,” Dean admits.

The estate has been uninhabited for the past 100 years or so, but at one point it was bustling with people. According to Dean, in the 1870s, the 11 staff lived on the property.

Over the centuries, the manor has expanded. Now, it features a caretaker's cottage, servants' quarters, stables, a gardeners' cottage and the main Georgian residence. In all, those five buildings have a total of 65 rooms. Of the buildings, the caretaker's cottage is the oldest, with architecture tying back to the 16th century. The servants' quarters were added in the 18th century, as were the stables and main residence.

“The best part of living on an estate or in a manor is that you have so many options,” Dean shares. “You have so many options of what to do with the rooms. We created a gym, we created a bar, we have accommodations for our family when they come over from Spain, we’ve got multiple gardens where we can do different things — we just have so many options that we’re spoiled with choices.” Speaking of gardens, the manor features a formal garden, three courtyards, a rose garden and working gardens.

Stream episodes of Saving the Manor on discovery+. Connect with Dean and Borja on Instagram at @mytinyestate.

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