Miss Mary Dyott's Speech
MISS MARY DYOTT WAS THE GRANDDAUGHTER OF FRANCES HOWARD PAGET
The text below is a transcript of a speech given by Miss Mary Dyott about
1979/80 on the Manor House and Village of Elford.
THE MANOR OF ELFORD
I have divided this talk into 5 parts. The history of the owners of the land
between 1004-1935, the history of the Manor of Elford, a short history of Fisherwick as from about 1800 it formed part of
the Elford Estate, a few words on the Church you already have much of the history in the pamphlet in the church and I will
try not to repeat this and lastly a few words on the village old and new.
OWNERS OF ELFORD MANOR ESTATE
This is far too complicated to go into in any detail. It appears never to have
been sold but always passed to some other member of the family. I have heard it passed through the female line 11 times.
In 1004 Wulfric Spot who founded Burton Abbey gave Elleford
and Oakley (an old Manor situated about 1 mile north west from the Church) to his daughter but at the time of Doomsday it
was held by the King. It is not known how long he held it but by the time of Henry 111 1216 1272 it was owned by Wakelin de
Ardern. From the Arderns it went to the Stanleys and hence to the Stantons, the Smythes, and the Huddlestones, always through
of male issue. In the latter days of Henry V111 1509 - 1547 to the family of Bowes, in that Sir John Bowes married Anne Huddleston,
the heiress of Elford. John Bowes came of a race, which for some generations had been connected with Staffordshire. One John
Bowes owned lands in Tipton, Stafford, Gnosall, Tamworth and Oakley in the reign of Edward V1 1547 1553.
Little is know of Sir John Bowes beyond the appalling rows
he had with his neighbour William Skeffington of Fisherwick. They fought over land and fishing rights in a most un-neighbourly
and unchristian way. He is known to have been the father of a son Richard and a daughter Elizabeth, the latter born in 1580.
Many years passed away and at the end of 1656 the last male
heir of the race of Bowes of Elford died he was George Bowes who had married Mary Burdett of Bramcote near Polesworth. The
union was not a long one, he died at the age of 36 and his widow survived him by 44 years. Their one and only son dying 4
years after his father at the age of 14.
Mary Bowes born Burdett (known in Elford as old madam Bowes)
was a remarkable woman. She had sound Christian principles, excellent judgement, shrewd foresight, masculine resolution, a
kind heart and generous hand. She produced results most beneficial to the Elford Estates. She had one small daughter who was
only 6 when her father died and she became heiress to the Elford Estates. Mary as she was christened married in 1683 Craven
Howard but continued to live in Elford for the 17 years of her married life.
Old madam Bowes who remained in Elford with her daughter
and son-in-law died in 1700. She left instructions for her funeral more or less as follows:-
be privately buried as I have lived.
the next day after my death.
black hung in the Chantry.
Hurst of clothe over my corpse.
left endless instructions as to what was to be given to the poor and needy, servants and those working on the Estate. Madam
Bowes died in March, her son-in-law in June and daughter Mary in August.
madam Bowes daughter who had married Craven Howard had 2 daughters and one son; the one son was born in 1688 and named Henry
Bowes-Howard. Thus into Elford the line of Howard, (for Henry was the great nephew of Thomas 1st Earl of Berkshire)
Henry took his seat in the House of Lords in 1708 as 4th Earl of Berkshire.
was he of course who built Elford Hall as we remember it. He and his wife Catherine Graham had many children, few survived,
but amongst them was William Viscount Andover born 1714. In fact out of 9 children
only William and one brother Thomas lived to maturity. Thomas inherited Ashstead which property on his death came back to
William Viscount Andover, together with Levens, and Castle Rising. William married in 1736 Lady Mary Finch 2nd
daughter of the Earl of Aylesford. He became the father of 4 children and made Elford his residence. Lord Andover died on
the 15th of July 1756, he was returning from Lichfield via Fisherwick Park, he had reached within a few yards of
the lodge now known as Copes Lodge by Stubby Leas when the young horse he was riding took fright and threw him, he received
such injuries that he died on the spot.
of Lord Andovers children I need not refer to again, but the 4th child a girl named Frances born in 1747 became
in the course of time the owner of Elford, inherited from her mother the Viscountess Andover.
married in 1783 Richard Bagot 5th son of Sir Walter Wagstaffe Bagot who assumed the name of Howard, his wife Frances
of course being an heiress. This constant change of name on marrying an heiress must seem to you to make for complications.
Frances Howard must have been 36 when she married. However she had 3 children, 1st Mary born in 1785 and who did
not die until 1877, some 8 years before my Mother was born. 2nd Henry born 1787 and died of smallpox in 1788. 3rd
Henry Richard born 1788 and died the following year.
are of course only interested in Mary Howard the name being familiar to most of you. Mary Howard married at the age of 22
in 1807. The Hon. Faulk Greville Upton 2nd son of the 1st Lord Templetown, he like many before him assumed
the name of Howard upon his marriage to an heiress. He died aged 72 at Elford, but is buried in Ashstead.
must dwell briefly on the virtues of Mary Howard. The possessor of the Estates of Castle Rising in Norfolk, Elford in Staffordshire,
Levens in Westmoreland and Ashstead in Surrey. She accepted this trust with deep responsibility forever dwelling amongst her
own people. A kind and good Christian she did much for the people working on her Estates, her poor relations (and there were
many) her servants and very many private charities. She was responsible for the re-building or restoration of some 12 churches;
she re-built several schools and cottages, including the school in Elford. She founded or endowed many charities. Dying in
Ashstead in her 93rd year she left something in the region of 3 million. One is apt to say good heavens she could
well afford to give so much away, but I have often been told that she lived a most simple and plain life with no extravagances
of the vast sum she left very little was in what we would call hard cash. Her 3 million really consisted of the value of the
land, houses and the contents of the houses.
left no children and the estates were left to various cousins. And here we come to my Great Grandfather, Francis Edward Paget,
Rector of Elford.
must give you a short resume of the Paget clan, a good old Staffordshire clan.
can be traced back to the reign of Henry V11. Lewis Paget lived in Staffordshire.
Possibly one of his brothers William Paget was born near Wednesbury. He went to London and had 4 children. William his eldest
son was born in 1506 quite obviously a person of great and eminent abilities. Educated at St Pauls School and Trinity Collage
Cambridge. By the age of 24 he was already recognised by Henry V111 and after that did much for the King. In 1540 he was made
clerk of the Privy Council 1544 he was knighted. The story goes that HenryV111 wanted to make him an Earl. Thanks replied
Paget. I beg to refuse the honour as I would rather keep my head. (1547) On his death bed Henry V111 bequeathed Paget £300,
and appointed him an executor. In 1549 he was summoned to the House of Peers and took his seat on December 3rd
as Baron Paget of Beaudesert in the County of Stafford. On January 19th 1550 he was formally created to that honour.
important bearing on this is the fact that the Barony of Paget was entailed to descend both through male and female children.
He died on January 9th 1563 aged 57. Two hundred years later the barony did descend through the female line there
being no male heir but one female.
Paget who married Sir Nicolas Bayly of Plasnyddidd. Her son Henry born 1744 became 9th Baron in right of his Mother.
He in turn became the Father of the 1st marquess of Anglesey my Great, Great, Great Uncle.
first Lord Anglesey had several brothers, but we are only interested in the 4th son Edward. He married first Hon.
Frances Bagot. She died in childbirth the follwing year, giving birth to Francis Edward Paget my Great Grandfather. He married
secondly, Lady Harriet Legge but hat is not of much interest to us. Francis Paget being Motherless was brought up at Blythfield
by his Grandparents. Being a cousin of Mary Howards through the Bagots, it was she who gave him the living at Elford. He in
his turn had 5 daughters and at the very end one son. Francis Howard Paget my Grandfather who died in 1935 a cousin of Mary
Howards to whom she left the Elford Estate. The rest of the story may be known to most of you, but I put it briefly as now
nearly 50 years have passed since Birmingham became the owners.
my Grandfather had some idea of what might happen, but family gossip goes that on his deathbed in 1935 he made his eldest
son promise he would never sell the Estate. Undaunted by his promise within 2 years it was given to the Birmingham
Corporation. You might ask why? The family asked why? 50years ago. Some called it madness some generosity, some called it
a scandal, but I do not think that at the moment he had any idea how things would turn out. The gift consisted of the house,
cottages, some 600 acres of land, 70 acres of woodland and facilities for boating on several miles of river. He also gave
the Corporation £1,000 for re-planting woodlands.
were some conditions namely that the Estate should be preserved as an open space and not broken up for 100 years. Pensioners
on the Estate should not be disturbed but if no use could be found for the Manor House it might be demolished with some ceremony,
he cut a piece of turf which was placed in a silver casket. So far as I know this casket is still somewhere in the Birmingham
Museum. England is at last waking up to the fact he added that there must be trees and shrubs and open spaces for her citizens,
not only for there enjoyment but also for there health. Alas for the best laid plans of mice and men. One wonders sometimes
if there is anyone living in Birmingham who has ever heard of Elford, let alone allowed to make use of the facilities, which
my Uncle mentioned. Maybe we should not be to hard on Birmingham, those who accepted the gift are long since dead and times
THE MANOR OF ELFORD
Long ago Needwood Forest reached to within a few miles of Elford. Tradition has placed the Manor House around 1480
in a situation nearer to Oakley and Croxall. It is not improbable that The Slang Oak stood in what was Elford Park surrounding
the house. There is evidence to show that Lords of the Manor resided there from a period dating from the reign of Henry V11
1457 1509. Maps appearing around 1509 do not all mark the position of the house, but neither do they mark the spot where the
more ancient mansion is believed to have stood, further down the river towards Fisherwick where the river takes a sharp bend.
Here in the days of my youth one could walk across the river to the Fisherwick Woods over what was called The Scour (The Oxford
English Dictionary defines a Scour as a place scoured by running water) and it really only some few inches deep.
The 3rd Mansion now pulled down some 15 years ago was built by Henry-Bowes Howard
who took his seat in the House of Lords as 4th Earl of Berkshire in 1708. He married in 1709 his first cousin Catherine
daughter and heiress of Colonel James Graham of Levens Westmoreland. Soon after this he began to build the 3rd
Mansion but it was not however completed in his lifetime. His son, William Viscount Andover finished the job. Paget records
at this point that the stables were not built until sometime afterwards, but gives no date.
This house consisted of 3 floors
and a basement, why on earth a basement is hard to understand. The Kitchens ran along the edge of the churchyard at the back
of the house with some 6 or 8 bedrooms above. The third side of the courtyard was the Laundry with what had been manservants
bedrooms above. The Servants Hall, which was large and long, ran down the fourth side. Thus was single story.
The basement itself
consisted of a number smallish dark rooms such as, wine cellars, china closets, Butlers Pantry, Housemaids Closet and still
rooms meat larders etc. from the dinning room one had to go down a long dark staircase (lit by candles) along the stone passage
of the basement and up a smaller flight of stairs to the ground level of the Kitchen. Why any food arrived warm is hard to
believe and the mind boggles at the number of parlour maids or members of the household who fell down what was known as The
Dark Staircase. Two flights of stair went from the so-called ground floor to the first floor of bedrooms. One was of Golden
Oak, very wide but narrow treads the other scrubbed oak with large wide dark handrail and big newel posts.
Of the 6 bedrooms
on that floor, the one I remember most was perhaps the Four Poster Bedroom known I think as the Mary Howard Room. The bed
was nearly 7 feet wide, the furniture dark and heavily carved or inlaid. To finish the suit there was a boudoir for the lady,
a dressing room for the man and a very dark somewhat smaller room (no window), which contained 2 wash hand, stands. A hipbath,
a saucer bath, a bidet pan and a rather large china bowl some 18 inches deep and 2 feet across which I was told was to wash
your feet in! On the top floor there were some 6 8 bedrooms, there had been school rooms and bedrooms etc for the young of
the household, but were never used in my day.
When I stayed with
my Grandparents the household ran strictly to time, i.e., Morning Prayers 8.45 a.m., Breakfast 9 a.m., Lunch 1 oclock, Tea
5 p.m. and dinner 7.30. Evening Prayers shortly after dinner had finished. All prayers were held in the Chapel. Looking back
I would recall that it must have held some 25-30 persons. The alter was raised on three steps in a sort of alcove. There was
a small organ in one corner upon which on some occasions my Grandmother played a Hymn. On 4 5 mornings a week my Grandfather
held prayers for the men at 6.30 a.m. Much to there credit all the men on the estate arranged amongst them selves that some
of them would attend these prayers so that there was always someone there.
There was of course
no central heating, no light other than candles and no bathrooms. There where however 3 water closets. The water for these
and the taps in the Kitchen was pumped up by hand to a tank in the house twice a day. The pump room, which I think,
is still there was a small bothy at the top of the wide path going down to the garden house. Where on earth the water came
from I have no idea, but I feel there must have been a well in the vicinity as we always drank the water. All the drains went
into the river as they all did in the village. This I might add never stopped us swimming in the river. When the river flooded
the water was apt to come into the basement passage backwards up the drains. My Mother always said she remembered during one
bad flood they had a small boat and rowed in the basement passage.
Apart from the 3
water closets there were 3 earth closets, the one leading from my Grandfathers study was his private domain he would use no
To keep us warm there
were 3 fires, one in the drawing room, one in the dinning room and one in my Grandfathers study. The Kitchen had 2 large ranges
this perhaps was the only warm room in the house, but being some150 yards away it was not of much use to us.
Living was extremely
simple. Bacon/Egg or Sausage breakfast, Meat, Vegetables and steamed pudding lunch, and for dinner (although we put on evening
dress) consisted of such odd things as a poached egg in oxo, nut rissoles which my Grandmother loved or boiled cod. Followed
by normally a fruit pie.
Angelica was grown
in the garden. Cooked fresh angelica tart was a great favourite with some members of the family and heartily disliked by others.
One of my Uncles
once rescued a drowning Thrush from the river, brought it to the Kitchen to dry out. Having recovered it hopped onto the Kitchen
table and spotting a large Angelica it flew into the middle, discharged the largest mess it could produce, flew through the
window and disappeared. From the members of the family who disliked Angelica (including my Uncle) there were loud cheers when
only a junket arrived for lunch.
There was no variation.
Bread was made in
the old bread ovens on a Monday and this would last the week. My Grandmother who would insist on buying tea 56lbs at once
was always surprised how short a time it lasted. As the Kitchen range was never without a pot of tea stewing on the hob this
is not to be wondered at.
Life went on quietly and
uneventfully untill my Grandmother died in 1934, whereupon my Grandfather said he could not live without his "Honey Pot Angel"
as he called her. Turned his face to the wall and within a year was dead.
The original Elizabethan Fisherwick
Hall was owned by the Family of Skeffington for some 200 years. The last of the family by then Lord Massareene died in 1757.
Mr Swinfen of Swinfen
had purchased the estate a year before. He only held it for a few months. It was sold to Samuel Hill of Shenstone Park who
almost immediately died and it passed to his nephew Mr Egerton of Tatton, but he resold it at once back to Mr Swinfen who
at once sold it to the 1st Marquis of Donegall; Great Nephew of Lord Massareene.
In 1766 he pulled
down the Elizabethan Mansion and erected a most pretentious which was not finished until 1774. this cost £200,000 and Capability
Brown laid out the gardens. Lord Donegall is supposed to have lost the estate when gambling in Lichfield but what was left
of it passed to his son in 1799. In 6 years he sold up, part was bought by Sir Robert Peel and the rest including the house
by Mr Richard Howard of Elford. The Hall, which had only stood for 40 years, was pulled down.
Mr Richard Howard
was born the 5th son of Sir Walter Bagot assuming the name Howard when he married in 1783 Lady Frances Howard Mother
of the Hon. Mary Howard so well remembered by Elford residents for her building of the school.
Nothing is left of
Capability Browns work, so far as I know the walls of the Kitchen garden still stand, through which the heated pipes run or
did run to warm the walls. The orangery is a wreck of its former self and the woodlands of course belong to Birmingham.
am not saying much about the Church as most of you will have some idea of the history, and there is a good pamphlet in the
are however one or two things that might interest you.
It is reasonable to suppose that the first Church was erected about
the end of the 11th or early 12th century, the original founder was of the de Ellefords, possibly Hugo
old north wall pulled down in 1848 was found to contain amongst the rubble, stones between the courses of ashlar which had
evidently been used in the erection of a building of early Norman date. The old Church possessed a nave, south aisle and short
Chantry was erected towards the close of the 10th century. This Chantry of the Cross dedicated to the Blessed Virgin
Mary had provisions made for the maintenance of lights before the image of the Virgin for ever. During the restoration in
1848 a niche in the wall was discovered in the rear of which was found a tiny chimney to the sides of which adhered dense
masses of soot from the lamp which had been maintained before the image of the Virgin, but which had been extinguished when
Henry V111 in 1545 abolished all Chantries.
is said that the commissioners for Church goods found little booty at Elford, the extent of there gains on may 14th
1552 being as follows: a Chalice and paten of silver, half dozen vestments, a cope, four albs and an amice (an oblong piece
of cloth worn round the neck and shoulders), four alter cloths, 2 Towels, 2 pewter cruets, 2 cloths (napkins), 2 frontals,
a pyx and censor of brass and 3 bells, value for whole £10. the puritan Rector, Tomas Dowtey, appears to have spared much
in the Church. Below the wall plate in the Chantry are the shields of the Lords of the Manor from the Saxon to the present
times, those on the North side comprise a list of 16 from the Earl of Mercia to Stanley, and Arderne, those on the South side
a list of 10 from Stanley to Howard.
Tomb of Sir Thomas Arderne is one of the finest, together with his wife Matilda, the daughter and heiress of Sir Richard Stafford.
Sir Thomas is equipped in armour of the period, holding his wifes hand. This does not necessarily mean affection; it generally
means the wife was an heiress, which in this case she certainly was. The shields round the sides of the tomb supported by
figures are the quarterings of a number of families, including the Arderenes
, Staffords, Bagoys, Pepes, Campvilles, Traceys, Corbets, Bassets and Marmions etc.
1899 the living about £200 per annum was including 240 acres of glebe. The register dates from 1552.
And now a few words about the old pulpit, which once stood in the
The old Jacobean pulpit was given to Lichfield Cathedral by the Reverend Prebendary Bacon in 1671, who preached
the first sermon from it on the 4th Sunday after Trinity of that year. It remained in the Cathedral for 118 years.
In 1789 it was purchased by Lady Andover and the Reverend W.Sawtry and erected in Elford Church near the west door where it
remained for 59 years. In 1848 when Elford Church was restored the pulpit was taken out and lay in dust and oblivion for 59
years. I remember my Mother saying that as a child she and her brothers used to climb into the bit that was in the stables
and preach sermons. In 1912 Whittington Church was restored and my Mother remembering the pulpit asked Elford if Whittington
might have it. Many letters were exchanged between my Grandfather, the Reverend Ernest Hammick, Rector of Elford and my Father
and the Reverend D. Cohu, Vicar of Whittington.
Grandfather writes that part of the pulpit lay in the rectory stables, part in the timber yard, part with the fire engine.
Later he writes that a further part had been found elsewhere. So much for a 15th century pulpit. It was decided
however not to make an out and out gift to Whittington. It should go on loan. An extremely lengthy agreement was drawn up
stating that Whittington must keep the said pulpit in good order, preserve it from being altered in any way and insure it
for not less than £50. Should Whittington have no further use for it, it must be returned to Elford. This all strikes me as
rather funny when one considers how Elford had treated it for 74 years.
1939 the Cathedral suddenly thought it would be a good idea to have it back. Whittington expressed dismay and appealed to
Elford. Few letters remain of this part of the story, but the long and short of it was that Elford gave the pulpit
to Whittington and left it to them to do as they wished, as the pulpit was now legally theirs. Whittington would not part
with it and the matter was dropped. It is still in Whittington Church. Should you go and see it you will notice that the Wine
Stem supporting the pulpit is sunk into a hole in the floor. My Father said that when he went into the Church to see how things
were going, he found the men about to cut off the Wine Stem as the pulpit was to high. He stopped this and made them sink
it into the floor. Before I leave the subject of the pulpit I should add that I have always understood that your pulpit in
Elford, put in in 1848 is made up of 12 different kinds of wood to mark the 12 Apostles but I have never had this confirmed.
history of the tombs is lengthy and can be found in many reference books. I expect you know that when the Church was restored
in 1848 parts of the William Staunton tomb and parts of the Ardeene tomb were found inverted and formed part of the pavement
of the Church. Upon further investigation Norman stonework, medieval tiles and ancient coffins were also discovered. One massive
stone coffin was found the length was 6ft 6 inches and it was 18 inches wide at the head. In it were human remains, probably
12th century. I expect you have noticed the carving of the birds nest on one of the Chancel Capitals. During the
restoration in 1846 a swallow built in the Church and much work was halted whilst the bird sat. So touched was the stonemason
that he carved a bird alighting on its nest.
In the days of my youth we
all sat in the Chantry Chapel. The door from the Hall led straight into the churchyard across to the Chapel door. We did not
have far to go. We took our pews very much in "pecking order" with my Grandparents infront. As each member of the family left
home we were moved up one. When all my Aunts and Uncles had gone I found myself at last in the pew alongside my Grandparents.
given you a brief outline of the history of the village, Manor House, its owners and the Church I must add just a few notes.
first mention of Elford was around 667A.D.
last Manor House was demolished by Birmingham in 1965.
my Mother was married in 1906 it was found that there was no record of a daughter of the house being married in the Church
for 300 years.
Donegall built the bridges over the river. In my day there was no fork of the road as you left the bridge on the Elford side.
The road bent towards Tamworth and vehicles had to double back towards Elford. Gossip has it that Lord Donegall did this to
annoy Lord Andover with who he was not on very good terms it made it difficult for him to turn his carriages as he crossed
is known as The Mile Wall between Copes Lodge and Mr Wards farm was built by Lord Donegall. He used bricks left over from
the building of Clifton Campville Hall, which was never completed. Donegall had a private racecourse, which ran behind the
wall, and he was anxious that passers-by should not see what was going on.
the First World War the Post Office was at the far end of The Square on the right hand side, it was kept by a Mr Cunningham.
From there it moved to The Wickets where it was kept by Mrs Griffiths born Jinny Salt of Elford. She was an old and much loved
friend of my family. When staying at Elford I took tea with her every Saturday. From there the Post Office moved to its present
Rectory was sold to Lady Piercey about 1952/3 and the present one was built in part of the garden.
Mother was born in a top back room of Avenue House. Whilst my Grandfather managed the estate, Miss Eleanor Bagot lived in
the Hall. Mrs Howard in her will, left the estate to my Grandfather but Eleanor Bagot was to live in the hall for the rest
of her life. She out lived Mrs Howard by 10 years.
were few rules to be obeyed when I stayed with my Grandparents, which I did very often and for weeks ay a time. Three times
to Church on Sunday. I must be in by midnight and was given a key for the door leading into the churchyard. One has to remember
that with no car it was unlikely that I stayed out until that time.
must I be late for a meal. My Grandfather stood up and would not sit down until everyone staying in the house had assembled
round the table. Woe to any unpunctual visitor! He then said grace and we seated ourselves.
cannot close without mention of the Head Gardener our beloved Jim Mewis. Around the same age as my Grandfather he started
in the gardens at the age of 10 and finally became head gardener. He attended to all the wants of the young Pagets, fed them
on fruit from the greenhouses, hid them behind hedges when they were where they should not be and would always defend them
when in trouble. During the First World War my Sister and I together with our nurse spent weeks at the Garden House. He was
just the same with us. I certainly believe he would invent any story to get us out of trouble. So far as my Grandfather was
concerned Jim always had the last word. He died in 1938 and is buried in Elford. He was indeed what my Mother would have called
one of natures gentlemen. In these days I do not think people realise the deep affection which existed between the old families
who employed labour and the old families they employed, such people as old Jim, Jinny Griffiths who in the days of her youth
eas a housemaid at the Hall, Mr Phillips who sang in the choir for 60 years, old George Williams who dug the graves. All of
these and many more were not only respected but dearly loved.
am going to close this talk, which I hope has not been to full of dates or to long winded, be two of my favourite quotations;
old order changeth, yielding place to new,
god fulfils himself in many ways, lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
secondly the last verse of a poem I found in an old autograph book dated approximately 1860
seem to live so many lives,
Of mingled joy and pain,
old hopes pass away, and we
Begin our tasks again.
The photographs below are of memorial stones in St Peters
Church Elford and are mentioned in the speech above.