GREEN CLOSE

Green Close 1
It is hard to believe that this fine-looking property is actually four 17th century cottages remodelled to form one house. In 1916 all the properties were part of the Snowshill Manor estate owned by Henry Peech (1861-1925). He turned to the architect Charles Edward Bateman (1863-1947), known for his Arts and Crafts and Queen Anne-style houses, to blend the properties together.

“Great ingenuity was necessary to marry the four individual cottages into a whole to ensure both a pleasing exterior and the practical arrangement of the rooms. The house retains many of the original period features, including the great open fireplaces, flagstone floors and mullion windows, which sit comfortably alongside the Arts and Crafts features added by Mr Bateman.” ¹

Henry Peech -Lord of the Manor and absent landlord

Henry Peech, of Sheffield and Wimbledon, was one of those absent landlords that owned Snowshill in the early years of the 20th century. He was the son of William Peech, the co-founder and co-owner of the Sheffield steel manufacturers Steel, Peech and Tozer, and before that a Chief Turf Commission Agent for Lord Rosebery. Henry enjoyed his share of the family riches but quite what his intentions for the Snowshill estate were still remain unclear. While he poured money on Green Close he appears to have abandoned the 16th century Snowshill Manor completely.

When the Snowshill Manor estate was offered for sale by Peech in 1918 it included the derelict manor house and its 214-acres of well-cultivated land, Green Close, ‘a smaller Cotswold home, recently altered and improved at great expense, with nearly 5 acres’, and 13 stone-built and stone-tiled Cotswold cottages. The estate also came with the title of ‘The Lordship of the Manor of Snowshill’.

After failing to find a buyer as a whole it appears that the estate was sold in separate lots in 1919. The dilapidated Snowshill Manor was bought by Charles Paget Wade who spent three years restoring it before eventually gifting the house to the National Trust in 1951. Meanwhile, Green Close, the newer and smarter of the properties, fell into the hands of Major Robert Hogarth Milvain.

Green Close 2 (Country Life)
Robert Hogarth Milvain and Klondike gold

The life of Robert Hogarth Milvain (1868-1933) was one of adventure and tragedy. He was reputedly a descendant of the artist Hogarth, as a youngster he was a good boxer and county footballer, and spent his youth in Spain before travelling to Canada. Here he led an adventurous life, chiefly ranching, and when the Klondike gold fields were found he, with two other men, discovered the route there via the Great Slave Lake and River and down the Yukon. One man died on the way, and Milvain arrived suffering with frost-bitten feet, which were treated by Indians.

Milvain remained for years gold prospecting and mining in the Klondike, only returning to Britain to avoid the cold Arctic winters. He and his wife, Margaret Caroline (1878-1970), daughter of Edward Adlard of Postlip, were in Alaska when the Great War started in 1914. They came straight home and he joined the Loyal North Lancashire’s with whom he spent the duration of the war in France. He was severely shell-shocked in 1916 during the Battle of the Somme and was badly wounded in the head, spine and legs the same year.

Major Robert Hogarth Milvain and his wife arrived in Gloucestershire in 1918 and bought Green Close. It was the start of a long and enjoyable tenure from which he maintained an interest in horse-racing as well as a passion for fox-hunting. He became Secretary of the North Cotswold Hunt but in his later years ill-health prevented him from riding. ²

Green Close 1 (Country Life)
Country Life magazine visited Green Close in August 1916 and cast a charming view of the area. “High up above Broadway, yet snuggly ensconced in a dip of the hills, is the hamlet of Snowshill… these hills are so full of finely built and beautiful houses… the beautiful local stone with which they are built constitute a continual charm to the eye.” ³

In June 1933, after fulfilling his duty as the vicar’s warden of St. Barnabas Church, and taking part in the annual Barnabas Day celebrations, he suffered a fatal heart attack at Green Close.

His loss was felt by the villagers of Snowshill who subscribed a sum of money and an oak seat, with stone bottom and brass plate, that was erected in the street near to his beloved church.

Robert’s widow stayed at Green Close and remained a pillar of the community. She maintained its beautiful cottage-style gardens and often opened them as part of the ‘Gardens of Gloucestershire’ programme for the benefit of raising funds for the Queen’s Institute of District Nursing and the Gloucestershire County Nursing Association. On other occasions the grounds were used for the annual Red Cross fete. Regular visitors to Green Close were the scout groups who often camped in its parkland (now extended to 21 acres), including a regular group from Wimbledon, a throwback to the days of Henry Peech. ⁴

Margaret Caroline Milvain remained at Green Close until the late 1960s and died, aged 92, in September 1970.

Green Close 8
Modern times at Green Close

Green Close remains in the family but, as of 2017, the house was put on the market with a guide price of £3. 8 million.

“The property is L-shaped and is finely built of beautiful local stone beneath stone slate roofs laid in diminishing courses. There are attractive mullion windows, fine stone dressings and dormers, both hipped and gabled. A half-timbered link with plasterwork was added in 1916 to marry up the elevations.” ⁵

Green Close 10
References: –

¹Savills Sales Brochure (2017)
²Gloucestershire Echo (16 Jun 1933) and Cheltenham Chronicle (24 Jun 1933)
³Country Life (21 Aug 1926)
⁴Gloucestershire Echo, Cheltenham Chronicle and Western Daily Press
⁵Savills Sales Brochure (2017)

All images courtesy of Savills, except black and white images, courtesy of Country Life (1926).

Green Close,
Snowshill, Boadway, Gloucestershire, WR12 7JU

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HUSSEY TOWER

Hussey Hall and Tower
House and Heritage features another guest post from Michael E. Reed on the history of Hussey Tower – King Henry VIII’s embarrassment.

Michael E. Reed (b.1964)  studied Art History at  Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He has taught English, History, Music and Drama  at various Melbourne colleges for many years. Reed has written for the UK Guardian  regarding  the Duchess of Cambridge’s family  connections with art and architecture.  He has worked as a researcher for other leading  UK newspapers including the Telegraph, the Express and the Daily Mail. The research is courtesy of  art historians including M.E.R. (PDP 2013-17) @ Eumemmerring College, Victoria, Australia.

Hussey Tower c.2015
Hussey Tower was built by Richard Benyington around 1450 for Sir John Hussey, a member of the court of Henry VIII. With only this tower still visible, the rest of the large manor has been lost.

Hussey Tower, in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, was once an impressive manorial home including a great hall, servants’ quarters, kitchens, stables and a large gatehouse. The building dates from around 1450-60 and is one of the oldest brick buildings in Lincolnshire.

It was originally built for Richard Benyington, collector of customs and excise in Boston which was a very important port at that time.

The tower was constructed entirely of hand-made red brick produced using local clay.

Around the time of being knighted after the Battle of Blackheath in 1497, John Hussey (son of Sir William Hussey) acquired the Sleaford estate. Hussey held a number of important positions in the Household of Kings Henry VII and VIII. He would become the Chief Butler of England and was Chamberlain to Henry’s daughter, Princess (later Queen) Mary.

Lord Hussey was one of five people to carry the canopy over the infant Princess (later Queen Elizabeth I) at her baptism on 10th September, 1533.

In 1529, he was raised to the peerage as Lord Hussey, 1st Baron Hussey of Sleaford, and remained living at his Sleaford estate – complete with refurbished tower. Henry lodged there one night, and ‘held a court’ next morning; the monarch was heading towards York to meet the King of Scotland.

Hussey Tower in 1815
Hussey Tower as seen from this painting in 1815. It is an important surviving example of a late medieval tower house, and of early brick building in Lincolnshire.

The tower later passed into the ownership of England’s Boston Corporation where little care was taken of it. Today it is a popular tourist attraction. Hussey’s legacy also lives on in the ‘American Wing’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Bachiler-Hussey joined armchair (c.1650-1700) is a remarkable piece of early American carved furniture which has elements of Hussey’s coat-of-arms: “Ermine motifs are repeated along its back and are interspersed with elements of his father-in-law’s Bachiler heraldry; the interplay of semicircles representing the sun rising from its base”.

Chair

Although his descendant’s chair survives, Lord Hussey’s story, like that of his dilapidated tower, is indeed a sad one, showing King Henry VIII at his worst.

Hussey Tower,
Off Skirbeck Road, Boston, Lincolnshire, PE21 6DA

LOANINGDALE HOUSE

Loaningdale 1867
A drawing of Loaningdale House from 1867. It was originally called Sunnyside and featured in a book ‘Biggar and the House of Fleming’ by William Hunter.

In November 1917 a newspaper advertisement in The Scotsman announced the pending auction of the Loaningdale Estate, near Biggar, Lanarkshire. It was offered at the ‘low upset price’ of £3,500 in an attempt to be rid of the property. The newspaper described Loaningdale House as a ‘very desirable residential estate with its mansion-house containing four public rooms, twelve bedrooms and dressing rooms, servants’ accommodation, stables, coach-house and good gardens’. Britain was at war and it wasn’t the best time to be selling; every day country mansions were being offered for sale and, for those still able to afford it, there were numerous properties to choose from.  At December’s auction Loaningdale House failed to find a buyer (as it had done in 1908) and its owner, Gavin William Ralston (1862-1924), was resigned to keeping the house.

Loaningdale House went back onto the rental market, as it had been since the death of Ralston’s father, Gavin Ralston (1827-1894), but the succession of tenants came at a price. In 1901, the property was described by one tenant as being in “a dirty and unhealthy condition with bad smells.”

However, Loaningdale House had enjoyed much better days. It had been built in the early 18th century for Nicol Sommerville on the site of an old farmstead called Sunnyside. It was enlarged by Dr Black and, in 1855, was bought by Walter Scott Lorraine, a Glasgow merchant, who remodelled and enlarged the house three years later to the designs of architect Thomas McGuffie and changed the name to Loaningdale. It was described in 1867 as ‘a spacious and elegant building, somewhat in the Elizabethan style of architecture’.

Loaningdale (Panoramio)
This modern image of Loaningdale House provides no clues to its existence as Loaningdale Approved School for Boys that closed in the 1980. (Panoramio)

After his death in 1871 the property was bought by Gavin Ralston, a writer and a Master of Arts at Glasgow University. He died in 1894 and Loaningdale passed to his wife, Christina Ballantine Walker, who lived in Edinburgh but had been inclined to rent the house out.

After she died in 1908 it became the property of their eldest son, Gavin William Ralston, a barrister who practised at Dr Johnson’s Buildings at Temple. After failing to sell Loaningdale in 1917 he finally sold the house in 1921, probably to a Mr and Mrs Baird, but gained national headlines when he married Countess Makharoff in 1924. He had met his wife when touring Russia and she was just a girl of 15. It seems the first seeds of their romance were sown and when she fled the country after the Russian Revolution of 1917 (shooting two Bolsheviks in the process) she eventually arrived in England. Just 11 days into their honeymoon Ralston died of a heart-attack while walking down a country lane at Worth Matravers, near Swanage in Dorset.

Loaningdale (Zoopla)
A modern accommodation extension was built in the 1960’s. The house was put up for sale in 2015 and sold for just £520,000. (Zoopla)

In 1963 Loaningdale House became an Approved School for Boys but nearly suffered closure in 1967 when the body of a 15-year-old local girl was discovered in a nearby churchyard. She had been hit over the head with a heavy object and strangled from behind. The police began taking dental casts, including boys from the school, and it was determined that the murderer was 17-year-old Gordon Hay, a resident at Loaningdale. He became the first person in Britain to be convicted based on evidence from forensic dentistry. The school finally closed in the 1980’s and in recent times the house has been used as an outdoor education centre. The core of the house remains but has been spoilt by a 1960’s accommodation block and outbuildings to the east.

Loaningdale (Dicky Hart)
Not the most sympathetic addition to Loaningdale House, built in 1858 for Walter Scott Lorraine. (Dicky Hart)
Loaningdale House 1
Modern buildings were built to the east of Loaningdale House. It now operates as a Scottish Outdoor Education Centre (SOEC) for children and  young people.

Loaningdale House,
Biggar, South Lanarkshire, ML12 6LX

FRANKBY HALL

Frankby Cemetery 1
Frankby Hall, built in 1846 for the Royden family, and sold in 1933.

When the will of Sir Thomas Bland Royden, of Frankby Hall, Cheshire was proved in 1917 it came out at a staggering £1,271,354. The baronet had been Chairman of Thomas Royden and Sons, shipbuilders and ship-owners, of Liverpool. He was a former member of Liverpool City Council, Lord Mayor in 1878-79 and High Sheriff in 1903-04. He had been made a Baronet in 1905.

Sir Thomas Bland Royden
Sir Thomas Bland Royden (1831-1917)

Frankby Hall, and its 810 acres, had been the home of the Royden family for more than 200 years. The last house had been built in 1846 and following Royden’s death passed to his son, Sir Thomas Royden, 2nd Bt., later to become the first and last Baron Royden of Frankby. He had an even more prestigious career, becoming Chairman of the LMS Railway Company and a director at the Cunard Steam Ship Company, Midland Bank and the Suez Canal. He was largely absent from Frankby Hall and sold the mansion and 61-acres by auction to Wallasey Corporation in 1933. The house was altered to become two chapels for the Wallasey Municipal Cemetery which was created at a cost of £10,000 in its grounds. One chapel was for Church of England and Nonconformist services, and the other was for Roman Catholic services.

Liverpool Daily Post 2 May 1940
From the Liverpool Daily Post, 2 May, 1940. (British Newspaper Archive)
Frankby Hall 1945
Frankby Hall seen in 1945. From the Liverpool Evening Express, 24 August, 1945. (British Newspaper Archive)
Frankby Hall
Frankby Hall. Now used as chapels for Frankby Cemetery.
Frankby Cemetery
Entrance to Frankby Cemetery, but once the approach to Frankby Hall.

Frankby Cemetery
Frankby Road, Frankby, Wirral, CH48 1QJ

MORNINGTHORPE MANOR

Morningthorpe 1
It is hard to imagine that somewhere behind this house is a country house dating from the 1600’s. The original house was owned by the Rope (or Roope) family and when John Rope died in 1686 his daughter inherited it and took it by marriage to Thomas Howse of Carleton Rode. It is said that she unimpressed with Carleton Rode and insisted that her husband spend money on Morningthorpe; he rebuilt the frontage leaving the original house to form the kitchen and offices. Thankfully, the 17th century oak staircase still remains, with rope balustrades, and a small section of the original clay and timber walls. They stayed at Morningthorpe from 1697 and the house was later inherited by the Howse family.

Works to extend and restore the property were done in 1813 and then again to fashion the house in a Neo-Elizabethan style about 1859-65. It was Edward Howse, who became Sheriff of Norfolk in 1859-65, who had the unfortunate experience of having his name misspelled in legal documentation, and decided to change his surname to Howes to suit. He set about improving the mansion and was responsible for creating the library as well as installing armorial stained glass. Howes’ initials can be seen on the outside of the building and on the base of the library mirrored mantelpiece, said to be based on a similar one at Hampton Court.

Morningthorpe 7

In 1884 the house was offered to let and described as being of ‘Elizabethan-style, containing a vestibule, three entertaining rooms, gentlemen’s room, 10-bedrooms, superior kitchens, domestic offices, gardens and grounds’.

The house passed by marriage to Commander Thomas Holmes about 1886. He had joined the Royal Navy aboard HMS Victory in 1866 but was invalided out in 1884. In 1892 he joined the Royal National Lifeboat Institution as Inspector of Lifeboats for the Irish district, which explains why Morningthorpe hall was rented out for the majority of his freehold. Several people stayed under its roof including Mr A.C. Lyon, Mr J.E. Bayne, Henry Leeke Horsfall and Cyril Grosvenor Sargent. Commander Holmes was awarded an RNLI silver medal for gallantry by the King of Norway in 1914 after rescuing 12 men from the Norwegian schooner, Mexico, wrecked off Wexford. The attending lifeboat was also smashed to pieces on the rocks and its crew marooned on an island before being also rescued by Commander Holmes. During the First World War he was credited for rescuing 5,322 people and 186 boats and vessels saved from destruction.

Morningthorpe 8
When the property was bought by one of the tenants, Cecil Grosvenor Sargent in 1918, he became Lord of the Manor and went on to improve the house by purchasing the fine carved oak panelling and a stone fireplace, carved by James Linnall, removed from Lady Stafford’s boudoir in Costessey Hall, and now installed in what is now called the ‘Costessey Room’.

Morningthorpe was later divided into three by the architect Edward Thomas Boardman of Norwich, (not, as widely reported, by his more famous father, Edward Boardman, who died in 1910), and remained so until the 1990’s when it became home to businessman Ron Fiske, a Norfolk antiquarian collector and bibliophile. He also carried out restoration and refurbishment to the property including the re-roofing of the main house and former kitchen wing as well as overhauling the roofs of the coach house and outbuildings.

Morningthorpe 10Morningthorpe 5Morningthorpe 2Morningthorpe 3Morningthorpe 4
Ron Fiske (pictured below) decided to downsize and put the property up for sale in 2015 causing him to offer half his collection of 30,000 books and pamphlets, manuscripts and armorial rolls, for auction. In one room he had an entire collection devoted to memorabilia about Admiral Nelson. Almost 90 lots were put in the sale of September 2016, about £30,000 of the archives were bought by the Norfolk Record Office and the Norfolk Archive and Heritage Development Foundation.

Ron Fiske
The house has many distinguishing architectural details and is built of mellow red brick under a pantile roof with stepped gables and octagonal corner turrets with moulded brick pinnacles and onion shaped finials.

All images courtesy of Jackson-Stops, except Ron Fiske, courtesy of Eastern Daily Press.

Morningthorpe Manor,
Morningthorpe, Norwich, NR15 2QL

DRAYTON MANOR

Drayton Manor 1 (LH)
Drayton Manor, Staffordshire. Built for Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, in 1831-33. (Lost Heritage)

It is sad to think that for several generations the name ‘Drayton Manor’ invokes images of a popular theme park. However, this wasn’t always the case and until the 1920’s was famous for being a grand mansion, the family seat of the Peel lineage.

The rise of the Peel baronetcy

The Drayton Manor estate was sold to Robert Peel (1750-1830), a farming and textiles man from Lancashire, about 1790. He was made a Baronet in 1800, but it was his son, Robert (1788-1850), that brought the greatest honours to the family. He became Prime Minister to Queen Victoria and, as Home Secretary, had created the London Metropolitan Police Force. Shortly after becoming 2nd Baronet he set about building a new mansion, 30 yards away from the old hall, and adopting designs from Sir Robert Smirke (1780-1867), the architect behind Covent Garden Theatre, Lansdowne House and the British Museum.

Drayton Manor 1843 (LH)
A print of  the newly-built Drayton Manor, shown here in 1843. (Lost Heritage)

Building work started in 1831 and was completed at a cost of £50,000 in 1833. It was a quadrangular stone mansion, in the Elizabethan style, of considerable extent, but without any ostentatious display of architecture, either internally or externally. A large corridor, or gallery, in the centre of the building, had its walls covered with fine works of art, as well as almost every available space on the staircase and elsewhere; and it was to his credit that almost every picture was by a famous painter. Its crowning glory was a visit by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1843. The art collection grew so quickly that Smirke’s younger brother, Sydney Smirke, returned in 1846 to build a new gallery wing to the north-west angle of the mansion, extending westward for about 100 feet. The exterior was embellished with statues of Rubens, Vandyke, Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir Thomas Lawrence.

Robert Peel 1788-1850 (National Gelleries Scotland)
Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850). Prime Minister to Queen Victoria. (National Galleries Scotland)

Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, died in 1850 and the estate passed to his son, another Robert Peel (1822-1895), who managed the estate in a robust manner. It was said of him that his greatest misfortune was in being the son of his father. An eloquent speaker, a fine presence, a daring actor, very irritable and impatient, he was unable to forget that his father had been Prime Minister. He also had to contend with a darkening cloud of the horizon in the shape of his son, yet another Robert Peel (1867-1925), who rebelled against the values that his grandfather, the 2nd baronet, had established.

A bit of a fool; a man without a conscience!

Robert Peel, the younger, had served as a Lieutenant in the Staffordshire Yeomanry, wrote two books – ‘A Bit of a Fool’ and ‘An Engagement’ – but his standing in society could not protect him from a weakness for gambling. Here was a man who had ‘broken the bank’ in Monaco netting no less that £12,000. However, his losses were greater than his winnings, and in 1893 had been declared bankrupt. When his father, the 3rd Baronet, died in 1895 he might have been forgiven for thinking his problems were behind him. However, just three years later he was a confirmed bankrupt for a second time. It happened again in 1901, 1903 and 1910, each time managing to avoid paying back any of his creditors. His marriage to Mercedes, daughter of Baroness de Graffenried, of Switzerland, in 1897, might have provided respite but it was a false hope.

Sir Robert Peel (1867-1925) (BNA)
Sir Robert Peel, 4th Baronet (1867-1925). He lost the Peel fortune. (British Newspaper Archive)

By the time of his final insolvency trustees had been appointed to manage his finances, paying him a yearly allowance up to £1,800. Robert had sold some of the Drayton Manor gallery in 1900 (and rented the house to Mr Eugene Kelly of New York) but still owed £1,700 with no assets of his own. He claimed the situation had arisen after losing £1,000 through opening the grounds at Drayton Manor on public holidays. He had provided three bands of the Household Brigade and firework displays but it had been a loss-making undertaking. However, his creditors claimed reckless extravagance; one said he demanded a taxi to wait for him outside his London home at Burlington Gardens but rarely emerged before midday. “Sir Robert is living at Drayton Manor as a tenant for life, and he had his usual servants and retinue. He also went about in a motor-car and usually travelled first class by rail.”¹

Drayton Manor 2 (LH)
Drayton Manor showing the glory of its gardens. It was demolished in 1926. (Lost Heritage)


The house is erased from history; the rise of the pleasure garden

For the rest of his life Sir Robert, still unwilling to pay back creditors, couldn’t escape the financial burden. In 1911 he declared that he had severed all connections with Drayton Manor and wrote an open letter to his tenants thinly explaining his reasons. It was a deception because he never actually left the house. When war was declared in 1914 he offered Drayton Manor as a sanatorium or hospital to naval and military authorities, but was most likely a feeble attempt to delay the inevitable.

In July 1917 Mr Justice Sargeant directed that the remaining contents of Drayton Manor should be sold by public auction. For the next year the Peel treasures were sold off piece-meal – “The fine things which Sir Robert Peel (2nd Bt.) collected with such care and taste have been dispersed by those who came after him.”² In November 1917 the family estates in Lancashire, Warwickshire and Staffordshire were put up for sale.

Staffordshire Advertiser 26 June 1926
Sale of fixtures and fittings in June 1926. (BNA)

The Drayton Manor estate was sold off in lots in 1919, but mysteriously the mansion was withdrawn at the last-minute. A troubled Sir Robert Peel died at Drayton Manor in 1925. The remaining portions of the original estate were offered at auction in April 1926, the mansion being sold to Mr G.H. King of Aberdeen for £6,780 who also bought the adjoining stables for £400. Later that year demolition work began with speculation that the site of the mansion-house and the park farm adjoining might be developed as a garden city.

Entrance Hall to Drayton Manor (BNA)
Drayton Manor. Entrance Hall in 1898 (British Newspaper Archive)
The Library (BNA)
Drayton Manor. The Library in 1898. (British Newspaper Archive)
Dining Room (BNA)
Drayton Manor. The Dining Room in 1898. (British Newspaper Archive)
Old Picture Gallery (BNA)
Drayton Manor. Old Picture Gallery in 1898. (British Newspaper Archive)
New Picture Gallery (BNA)
Drayton Manor. New Picture Gallery in 1898. (British Newspaper Archive)
15095655_10207806367264233_5247550379433771458_n
A rare photo of Drayton Manor, looking across from the lake. (Nicholas Kingsley)

Mr George Handley, of King’s Heath, visited Drayton Manor in 1927: “A few days ago I revisited Drayton Manor, but not the mansion. No it wasn’t there! All I could discern was the place it once occupied. Gazing on a scene of desolation of confused heaps of bricks and rubbish, it appeared to me to resemble the excavations of an ancient site than the mere debris of a modern mansion! I tried to trace the path of the building but without success. Everything I remembered (excepting the clock tower) had been ‘wiped off the map’. Heaving a sigh I was unable to suppress, I turned away from the scene of the devastation the ‘house-breaker’ had so effectively wrought, and recalled what I still remembered of that once noble building – a building which attested to the genius of its architect, Sir Robert Smirke and also the consummation of the hopes and ambitions of the first baronet.”³

15178263_10207806368064253_6733941281303924491_n
A sad end to Drayton Manor. Demolition of the house in 1926. (Nicholas Kingsley)

In 1931 Mr D. R. Fox, a well-known Lichfield sportsman and garage proprietor, bought the grounds and gardens of Drayton Manor and converted them into pleasure grounds. For the next eighteen years they proved to be a popular tourist attraction with two lakes, spectacular gardens and a café. They passed into the ownership of Mr Charles Deakin who, in 1949 announced that he was negotiating a sale to Mr and Mrs George Bryan, whose family had experience running a similar facility, ‘California-in-England’, near Wokingham. They proposed to restore the grounds to their former beauty and to add many new innovations. The rest, as they say, is history!

Drayton Manor (Express)
The site of Drayton Manor. Now a popular theme park in Staffordshire (The Express)
Drayton Manor Clock Tower (Geograph)
All that remains of Drayton Manor. The Clock Tower was spared demolition. (Geograph)

Notes:-
The treasures from Drayton Manor were scattered far and wide. In 1928 it was reported that a bath from Queen Victoria’s visit in 1843 was on display at the Crane Co showrooms, next door to the New Convention Hall, in Atlantic City.

In 1961, the Birmingham Daily Post, reported on four sculptured figures found at Messrs. Bateman Ltd in Knowle. These had stood on the roof at Drayton Manor and were sold in 1926 to the then owner of the salvage yard. In the catalogue these had been described as Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Joshua Reynolds and the younger William Pitt. However, according to the newspaper, two of the statues appeared to be Elizabethan figures, speculating that the nearer one might have been Sir Francis Drake.

References:-
¹Birmingham Mail. 7 December 1914.
²Tamworth Herald. 27 October 1917.
³Tamworth Herald. 9 April 1927.

Drayton Manor,
Drayton Manor Drive, Mile Oak, Tamworth, B78 3TW

SUTTON HALL

Sutton Hall 2 (LH)
Sutton Hall was offered as a convalescent home or for institutional use before being demolished in the early 1940s. (Lost Heritage)

Sutton Hall, at Sutton-in-Craven, was built in 1894 by John William Hartley, the reclusive bachelor- owner of Greenroyd Mill (founded by Peter Hartley in 1830) and a throwback to the flourishing days of the textile industry. It was built with views across the Aire Valley and on completion contained a Reception Hall, Morning Room, Dining Room, Library, Drawing Room, Billiard Room as well as 7 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a lavatory. It also contained a large attic as well as the centrally-placed ‘Tower Room’. It was lit with gas but had been wired for electricity with state-of-the-art central heating. The house was so big that it was said to have never been completely furnished

On J.W. Hartley’s death, in 1909, he was said to own ‘practically all the houses in Sutton, and also the larger part of the farms on the hillside hear the village’ as well as an estate near Pateley Bridge. The estate passed to a cousin, Miss Emma Hartley, who sold the mill in 1911 due to the poor economic climate and the decline in the textile trade. She died in 1930 and Sutton Hall was left to Ernest Hartley but he only had possession for two years. When he died in 1932 there was a conundrum as to who should inherit the hall. His eldest son, George Clifford Hartley, would have succeeded to the estate had he reached his majority before his father died. However, he failed this by three weeks and, under the deed, couldn’t succeed because he was a minor. This left the bizarre scenario that Ernest Hartley’s brother Allen, a Morecambe bus conductor, might inherit if the title could be proved.

In the end the estate did pass to George Clifford Hartley but he had no intention of keeping Sutton Hall and put it up for sale in 1933. He cleared the contents of the house in a series of auctions that included mahogany, oak and walnut bedroom suites, Axminster and Brussels carpets, oil paintings, watercolours and silverware.

Sutton Hall 1 (LH)
Bidding for Sutton Hall started at £1,000 and just managed to reach £3,000. It had cost £40,000 to build 39 years before. (Lost Heritage)

Considering that it had cost nearly £40,000 to build just 39 years earlier the decline of the British country house was highlighted when it was sold to Ernest Turner, a Keighley builder and contractor, for just £3,000. The estate covered an area of approximately 25 acres, including Sutton Hall, lodges, garages and stables, and the timbered grounds and park. Turner immediately advertised it as being ‘suitable’ as a convalescent home or a public or private institution. There were no interested buyers and in 1934 he proposed dividing it into five flats. He gave 6½ acres of adjoining woodland to Sutton Parish Council, but the rest of the estate was developed into what he called ‘a kind of garden city – the first and the finest in this neighbourhood’, a project which involved the demolition of Sutton Hall itself in the early 1940s.

Lost Heritage

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