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Badsey Manor - Putting the Manor in context

A talk by Lizzie Noyes for the Richard Phillips Memorial Lecture, 12th April 2019

Badsey Manor in the 21st century.

Position in the village

It is unusual house, firstly because it is in at least four different styles.  The ground floor is of the local blue lias stone; the rest of the building is half timbered; in the front is a mansard roof of about 1800, while the windows are arts and crafts. Secondly it is not in the centre of the village as are most manor houses as it was originally belonged to Evesham Abbey.

Founding of the manor

Evesham Abbey was founded in about 702.  This was at the southern end of Mercia.  At this time the West Saxons inhabited the Cotswold. There seems to have been some dissent between the two which may account for the land between the two being rather empty to this day and the village of Murcot having a half saxon and half celtic name.

The first mention of the abbey in Badsey was 709 when Evesham Abbey founded a manse there.  They used the name Badsey, a saxon word. This seems to be the first move south in the Mercian expansion. 

There is no clear evidence of this building, which following the custom of the time was probably a collection wooden buildings in a flattened area surrounded by a palisade. There is however a large flat area around the manor which could be the where it was situated.

Building the Manor

In Domesday the land was owned by Evesham Abbey and while there are several references to land none mentioned the building.

The first reference to a building was in 1316 when Abbot William de Chiriton ordered stone for buildings in Badsey.  It is assumed that this is when the stone part of the present building was erected as it stands in an exact east/west orientation as do most ecclesiastical buildings. This was obviously a time of expansion as he also built the wall down to the ferry and purchased Shrawnell deer park, now The Parks, Aldington. 

Functions at the Manor

There are at least four different activities for the monks recorded at Badsey: Monks and lay-brothers worked the land providing food and an income for the abbey; there was a kitchen providing food equivalent to that in the abbey; it cared for sick monks; the monks were bled here.

Bleeding was a practice used by monks throughout Europe. It was done four times a year and four pints of blood were removed, or until the monk collapsed. Apart from it supposedly removing ailments it was also practised on healthy individuals where it was supposed to: strengthen the memory; dry up the brain;  sharpen the hearing; produce a musical voice; reduce sexual arousal.

Afterwards they were allowed to rest in a warm room for several days, have special food and be excused  their normal monastic duties.   Later on they were allowed a longer rest and sometimes given some money. The bled monks were called minuti, the reduced ones and this building became called the Seyne House.  This is not sane as in sanity but is derived from sang, blood and the old French words seyne, or seigne meaning bled.

Dissolution of the Monastery

Badsey was not mentioned, but it must be assumed that it was included in the dissolution and was taken over by the crown.

The Hoby Family

After the dissolution In 1545 Philip Hoby obtained interest in much of the land round here. Some he was given and some he bought in Badsey, Bengeworth, Littletons, Wickhamford, Offenham and Aldington, the latter two including the Shrawnell deer park. On several occasions he came here with his brothers to hunt along with his friends the Lygons, the Throgmortons and the Dudleys of Warwick.

He was an ambassador to Henry VIII for whom he travelled round Europe often searching out princesses for the king. With him went Holbein the artist, so we have a drawing of Hoby and his wife.  Later he became a member of the Privy Chamber and Henry left him money in his will.  Philip was therefore a very wealthy man. Probably he was a distant member of the Tudor family, as his coat of arms shows a Tudor lion with a gold crown round its neck.

For Edward VI he was a member of the Privy Council where his friend Dudley was in charge.  He also supported Lady Jane Grey to be queen after she had married Dudley's son. His main house was Bisham Abbey in Berkshire which contains many of the Hoby heirlooms to this day and where he is buried in the church with his brother.  He also had a house in Blackfriars in London.

He may have owned the manor, but after his death Queen Elizabeth granted it to Sir Robert Throgmorton in 1562, although Richard Hoby, Philip's half-brother, was living here during Philip's life time and it was finally granted to him in 1598.  The Throgmortons and Hobys were related by marriage and it is difficult to know exactly how the house was owned.   What we do know is that the half-timbered house we see to-day was largely built in 1587. The dendrochronology done on the timbers shows this. Fortunately the timbers were of oak, so it was possible to date them.  Most houses in the area were of ash, which is undateable.  The house was probably erected for the marriage in Badsey church of Richard's daughter Elizabeth to Thomas Sheldon MP of Broadway. The house must also have been quite grand as Philip Hoby left hangings for the house.

Richard lived in the house until his death in 1616 when he was buried in the church alongside his mother and first wife.

Tobacco in Badsey

John Stratford was one of the first people in the country to grow tobacco, including in Badsey.  The Stratford family were married into the Hobys and also the Throgmortons. How did tobacco get here? There is no clear evidence, but Lettuce Throgmorton was married to Sir Walter Raleigh who brought tobacco to this country.

Plan of the House

Nowadays it is an unusual shaped house with one long arm and one short. Was it always like this?  The evidence suggests not. It was definitely a courtyard house and the cobbled yard is still in existence. There was an entry arch leading to the yard, but why have an arch when it would be perfectly easy to go round the edge of the house? Elizabethan houses were often in the shape of an E so it is likely that there was another wing on the right.  In dry weather there is also evidence of the foundations of a wing across the fourth side of the square.  Although the house looks large to day it is likely that it was much larger for someone of Philip Hoby's standing. In addition the front of the house is not symmetrical. The panels in the middle of the front of the house are symmetrical, while those on the left do not have equal panels on the right.

The Civil War

There is no evidence of what happened to the house during the Civil War but it is likely that part of it was lost then as this was the fate of many of the large houses round here. We know that both warring sides passed through this area in order to access Evesham bridge.  Troops to the level of two thousand horse camped around here before the battle of Evesham. The order was given for 'free quarter' which meant every man for himself.  Officers probably billeted themselves in large houses while common soldier would head for the barns or churches.  On the north side of the tower in Badsey church there is a semi circle of bullet holes. This could have been due to target practice as it could have been where an errant soldier had been shot.

The Wilson Family

This was probably a local family who had done well out of the civil war. The first we know of them was when their son was baptised in the church in 1663. In 1677 they obtained a 1000 year lease on the manor house, the title and rights of lord of the manor and of other land including Badsey church yard. We know remarkably little about them. They owned land in the village and presumably had income from rents. They were important enough to be buried in the chancel near the High Alter.

About 1800 they made a series of changes to the house.  Whether this was due to the house needing repair, or if they wanted to modernise it we do not know.  They took of the front gables and replaced them with a hip roof. The house was rendered to cover up the timbers, the passage way was filled in and a Georgian window inserted.

Like most land owners the Wilsons did well out of the enclosure act in 1812 although they were only the eighth largest land owner in the village. Edward was also called the Lord of the Manor. Another hint of their decline was that Edward needed employment and joined the 172nd Company of Royal Marines in 1813. After some time in India his garrison was billeted on Saint Helena to guard Napoleon. Later he came home to Badsey and died in 1837 at he age of 44.  His widow had to apply to the Admiralty for financial assistance. From then on parts of the Manor were rented out and his son, also Edward moved out ending up as the innkeeper of The New Inn at Longford St Catherine in Gloucestershire. He had tried to sell the house without success, although he managed to sell the churchyard to the parish and the title of Lord of the Manor to Christ Church Oxford.

In 1873 he moved back to Badsey and lived in part of the house until his death in September 1907 when it was put on the market again while the family had a small house built at the top of the village. The Manor was sold in January 1908 to his sister, Matilda Osborne Wingfield, and her son, John Wingfield.

The Twentieth Century

Fortunately Mr Wingfield had knowledge of the Arts and Crafts movement.  In a talk he gave in London about the house he said “Generation after generation had done its best to spoil it and it has been our lot, so far as it is practicable to restore it to its original design.....” He removed the render, restored the passageway through the house, replaced the iron railings with a stone wall and replaced the windows with some more in keeping. The house was then let out and the buildings were described as having stabling for four horses, harness room, loft, carriage or motor house, granary, coal house and cow house.  The garden was described as a pleasure garden with a croquet lawn and provision for a tennis court. There was excellent spring water from the well, although water could be laid on from the mains. The sewer was already connected. The rest of the land the kitchen garden, pasture orchard and paddock were already let out.

In September 1913, John Wingfield sold the house to the Reverend John Ludlow Lopes.  The house was first used by a boys' home from Birmingham until the middle of the first world war.  Reverend Lopes sold the property to William Baker Driver in October 1915.  Mr Driver never lived in the house and it was taken over by the government and used a hostel for 100 German prisoners of war. They worked in the village and were obviously trusted as they were loaned bicycles and small boys would lead them to where they had to work.  They made wooden toys for children.  Apparently there was a chapel and a solitary confinement cell, but nobody seems to know where they were. Everything was fine until girls were seen talking to the prisoner through the fence. The prisoners were finally repatriated in 1919.

After the attentions of boys and prisoners the house was not in a good state. The large chimney on the north side of the house fell down. Various rooms were let out including one for the visiting doctor. On several occasions parts of the house were used for film sets.

After the evacuation of Dunkirk a number of soldiers were billeted in the village. The Manor House was improved to house families of men who were too ill to look after themselves.  Apparently for the children it was a wonderful place to live, although rather cold. Mr Harvey, the acting headmaster at Badsey School also live there.

The present house

After the war a Robinson family from Lancashire bought the house and decided to restore it and divide it into two dwellings, the way it remains until this day.  The passage way was closed up again and a kitchen was added to the smaller dwelling on the north side.  Much of the land was sold off for market gardening, although the manor retained an orchard going down to Badsey Brook. Mr Robinson ran a dairy, a turkey farm and a mink farm.  The kitchen garden to the north was sold off to Marshalls Transport and part was built on. Later on the orchard was sold off for building.

The house now stands rather marooned in the centre of Badsey. We bought our part to do up as a retirement project.  We added a utility room and garage. It is a wonderful place to live, both because of the house and the facilities of the village.  The village assumes it belongs to them and we are merely custodians.