There has been a manor house at Hartpury since the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1539-1540). The original house was situated near the parish church and was used as a country retreat for the Abbots of Gloucester.
After the Dissolution a local clothier aquired the court, his family remained there until the middle of the eighteenth century. James II created the Compton Baronetcy in 1686, however when the fifth Baronet died in 1773 there were no heirs so the Baronetcy became extinct. The estate passed to the two surviving sisters Catherine and Jane. After Catherine died childless in 1775, Jane became the sole heir.
When Jane died in 1781 her daughter Catherine inherited the estate. After Catherine's marriage to Robert Canning a new house was built on the site of Three Ashes Farm, this house was called New Court House and is now known as Hartpury House.
Catherine Canning died childless in 1823 and so the manor of Hartpury passed to her husband. Robert Canning remarried and produced two daughters. Maria, the eldest, married Captain Robert Gordon in 1848. By Royal Licence he assumed the additional name to become Gordon-Canning.
Maria died in 1887 and Captain Gordon-Canning in 1893, leaving four children. Willam James (the youngest son), whose portrait hangs in the College, inherited the estate in 1900 only to sell it in 1919 to his sister Frances who remained at Hartpury House until her death in 1947.
During the First World war the house was used for Australian convalescent soldiers. Between the wars the house was used by a group of nuns. During the Second World War the house was used as an auxiliary hospital by the Army, Navy and Air Force; the total number of patients that stayed at the house is 4965. The hospital was staffed by members of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John.
In 1948 the house and 130ha of land known as Home Farm were purchased by Gloucestershire County Council and so the Gloucestershire Farm Institute was founded. Laughtons Farm, 42ha, was purchased in 1965.