Wilton House is an English country house situated at Wilton near Salisbury in Wiltshire. It has been the country seat of the Earls of Pembroke for over 400 years.
The first recorded building on the site of Wilton House was a priory founded by King Egbert circa 871. Later, this priory, due to the munificence of King Alfred, was granted lands and manors until it became wealthy and powerful. However, by the time Wilton Abbey was dissolved during the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII, its prosperity was already on the wane – following the seizure of the abbey, King Henry presented it and the estates to William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke (in the 1551 creation) in c.1544.
The east front of Wilton, photographed by Queen Alexandra circa 1907. The central tower is all that remains of the Tudor house.
William Herbert, the scion of a distinguished family in the Welsh marches, was a favourite of the king. Following a recommendation to King Henry by King Francis I of France, whom Herbert had served as a soldier of fortune, Herbert was granted arms after only two years. In 1538, Herbert married Anne Parr, daughter of Sir Thomas Parr of Kendal and sister of the future queen consort Catherine Parr (1543–1547) and Sir William Parr, 1st Baron Parr of Kendal (later Marquess of Northampton).
The granting of an estate such as the Abbey of Wilton to Herbert was an accolade and evidence of his position at court. The first grants dated March and April 1542, include the site of the late monastery, the manor of Washerne adjoining also the manors of Chalke. These were given to “William Herbert, Esquire and Anne his wife for the term of their lives with certain reserved rents to King Henry VIII.” When Edward VI re-granted the manors to the family, it was explicitly “to the aforenamed Earl, by the name of Sir William Herbert, knight, and the Lady Anne his wife and the heirs male of their bodies between them lawfully begotten.” Lady Anne had been a joint creator of the enterprise.
Herbert immediately began to transform the deserted abbey into a fine house and symbol of his wealth. It had been thought that the old abbey had been completely demolished; however, following renovations after the Second World War traces of the old abbey were found at lower levels of the existing walls.
Source: en.wikipedia.org (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilton_House)