The Kings House: Centuries of Inspiring Architecture

When you walk through the door of Salisbury House, you are immediately transported back in time; this is all thanks to the Kings House in Salisbury, England.

The Kings House, Salisbury, England – 1923

Carl and Edith Weeks happened upon the centuries-old building in the early 1920’s while on a trip to England and knew they wanted the home they were building in Des Moines, Iowa, to have the same timeless presence.

Kings House (Left) – Salisbury House (Right)

Though not an exact replica, the similarities between Salisbury House and the Kings House are striking.

Kings House (Left) – Salisbury House (Right)

While Salisbury House’s story began in the 20th century, the King’s House was constructed throughout hundreds of years. First referenced in 13th-century documents, the King’s House was the residence of the Abbot of Sherborne Abbey and was known as the Court of the Abbott of Sherborne.

The property underwent a restructuring in the 15th century; this construction work can still be seen as the central frontage. In the 16th century, the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury Cathedral let the property to secular tenants, and the north end of the house was extended.

Engraving of the King’s House showing exterior prior to the 1634 addition.
1923 photo of the 1634 addition to the King’s House

During the reign of Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, the property became known as Sherborne Palace.

Henry VIII Monk Hunting at the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Illustration by John Leech from Gilbert Abbott A’Beckett’s Comic History of England, Bradbury, Agnew & Co., London, 1880.

The property would earn the name the ‘Kings House’ after visits from King James I in 1610 and 1613.

Portrait of King James I and VI
Royal seal of James I – Located in the collection of Salisbury House & Gardens

Throughout the following centuries, the house would continue to be altered and subdivided, used for tenancy, a school for young ladies, and a college.

King’s House, Salisbury England – 1923 – Classroom in the former common room

In 1981, the King’s House became the new home of the Salisbury Museum. Today the museum offers eight permanent display spaces and three temporary exhibition galleries and is open to visitors Thursday through Sunday.

The Salisbury Museum, Salisbury, England

Though both properties have a distinct look, it is evident which features from the Kings House were reproduced by Carl and Edith across the pond. From the team here at Salisbury House, we hope you enjoy the following photos that illustrate the reverence the Weeks family paid to the King’s House through their imitation.

King’s House – Gothic Portico 1923
Salisbury House – Gothic Portico Reproduction
King’s House – Gothic Portico Ceiling 1923
Salisbury House – Reproduction Gothic Portico Ceiling
King’s House – Porch Room 1923
Salisbury House – Porch Room
King’s House – Great Hall 1923
Salisbury House – Great Hall