Burghill House as the Court was originally known, was built by Benjamin Biddulph in the late 18th century, and was thought to have been designed by Anthony Keck of Gloucestershire.
Benjamin Biddulph died before the house was completed and nothing at all had been done to the surrounding grounds, and although some trees were planted along the years the full splendour of pleasure grounds, gardens, summer houses and parkland was not recorded until 1832.
The Woodhouses at Burghill Court
In 1874 the house was purchased by John Woodhouse, a wine merchant, and he set about rebuilding it and transforming it into a lovely big Georgian house which from then on was called Burghill Court.
John’s wife, Elinor along with her two daughters were well loved members of the community and were highly respected; they were also generous, and in 1898 Elinor built the club house in Tillington for use by local men, and also gave many to the church for necessary repairs.
The eldest daughter, Elinor Drinkwater Woodhouse, was at one time engaged to a missionary, but was grief stricken when she learned that he had been killed, and presumably eaten, by cannibals. She never married.
Elinor’s son John Gordon Woodhouse made a somewhat unwise marriage to Violet Gwynne of Folkington Manor, she being something of a shopaholic and rather flighty. They moved to London and her influence changed him for the worse – his mother Elinor was not so unkind as to totally disinherit him, but when she died in 1923 she was clever enough to leave him Burghill Court but only a pittance in cash, thus ensuring that he could never afford to live there and his two sisters could continue to do so in peace. John Gordon and Violet later moved to Stroud in Gloucestershire.
Murder at Burghill Court
Just three years later, the two sisters were brutally murdered by Charles Houghton, a long time employee of the Woodhouse family, being first taken on as a footman before rising to the post of butler.
After 22 years in service he became an alcoholic, and eventually Elinor and Martha Woodhouse were forced to dismiss him – he was given a month’s pay and asked to leave by the following day, but when he protested at such short notice he was told that he could stay until the end of the week.
The following morning he appeared to be normal, even attending family prayers and serving breakfast, but shortly afterwards he shot both sisters. The police broke into his room, where he had botched an attempt at suicide having cut himself seven times with a razor.
On 5th November 1926, Houghton was held in the condemned cell at Gloucester prison following his sentence of death, and although an appeal was made against the sentence this was withdrawn although his solicitors did try to plea insanity hoping that it might save Houghton from the scaffold. The Home Secretary refused to interfere with the sentence, and at 8 on Friday 3rd December 1926 Houghton was hanged by Thomas Pierrepoint.
Houghton was buried alongside the north wall of the prison, in a space reserved for such offenders.
Burghill House Household – 1851
|Georgina Owen||4||Daughter and Lady||b.Ireland|
|Ellen Owen||1||Daughter||b. Shrewsbury|
|Jane Bright||27||Lady’s Maid||b. Shrewsbury|
|Debra Charnock||40||Nurse||b. Worcester|
|Elizabeth Davis||21||Housemaid||b. Montgomerieshire|
|Helene Evans||18||Housemaid||b. Merioneth|
|Daniel Bright||23||Footman||b. Condover|
|George Bevan||26||Groom||b. Wellington, Shropshire|
|John Price||21||Labourer||b. Denbigh|
1857 Thomas Monington Weston in residence.
Burghill House Household – 1861
|Arthur Henry Wall||45||Magistrate||b. Kington, Herefordshire|
|Margaret Wall||48||Wife||b. Kington, Herefordshire|
|James Turner||41||Coachman||b. Aymestry, Herefordshire|
|John Hoy||30||Butler||b. Clifton, Bristol|
|Caroline Davis||40||Housemaid||b. Leominster, Herefordshire|
|Anne Trehearne||27||Cook||b. Ledbury, Herefordshire|
|Mary Drowns||19||Kitchenmaid||b. Burghill, Herefordshire|
Burghill House Household – 1871
|Arthur H. Wall||55||Magistrate||b. Kington, Herefordshire|
|Margaret Wall||58||Wife||b. Kington, Herefordshire|
|Milbrough Taylor||69||Wife’s sister||b. Kington, Herefordshire|
|Mary Wynn||48||visitor||b. Hereford City, Herefordshire|
|John Hoy||40||Butler||b. Bristol, Avon|
|Thomas Eastwood||31||Gardener||b. Northumberland|
|Caroline Davis||50||Housemaid||b. Leominster, Herefordshire|
|Sarah Plevy||35||Cook||b. Presteign, Radnor|
|Elizabeth Plevy||33||Housemaid||b. Presteign, Radnor|
|Eliza Phillips||16||Under Housemaid||b. Presteign, Radnor|
Burghill Court Household – 1881
|John G. Woodhouse||57||Justice of the Peace, Herefordshire||b. Liverpool, Lancashire|
|Elinor L. Woodhouse||51||Wife||b. Liverpool, Lancashire|
|Frances H. Woodhouse||30||Step Daughter, school manager||b. Cheshire|
|Elinor D. Woodhouse||19||Daughter,||b. Liverpool, Lancashire|
|Martha G. Woodhouse||12||Daughter||b. Liverpool Lancashire|
|John G. Woodhouse||10||Son||b. Liverpool, Lancashire|
|Jessie L. Baskerville||35||Governess|
|James Hollis||30||Butler||b. Oxfordshire|
|Mary Vale||40||Cook||b. Almeley, Herefordshire|
|Ellen George||50||Housemaid||b. Flint, Flintshire|
|Alice Morgan||20||Serving Maid||b. Goodrich, Herefordshire|
|Sarah Dale||20||Housemaid||b. Breinton, Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Lloyd||20||Kitchen Maid||b. Herefordshire|
Burghill Court Household – 1891
|Elinor L. Woodhouse||61||Widow living on own means||b. Liverpool, Lancashire|
|Frances H. Woodhouse||40||Step Daughter, Clerk to School board||b. Cheshire|
|Elinor D. Woodhouse||29||Daughter living on own means||b. Liverpool, Lancashire|
|Martha G. Woodhouse||22||Daughter living on own means||b. Liverpool, Lancashire|
|John G. Woodhouse||20||Son, Under Graduate Cambridge||b. Liverpool, Lancashire|
|Frances E. Drinkwater||19||Niece living on own means||b. Switzerland, British Subject|
|Charles Ines||33||Butler||b. Aconbury, Herefordshire|
|Ellen Genge||60||Housemaid||b. Flint, Flintshire|
|Selina Bowyer||21||Cook||b. Shropshire|
|Sarah A. Bray||18||Housemaid||b. Colwall, Herefordshire|
|Mary Davies||18||Kitchenmaid||b. Herefordshire|
Burghill Court Household – 1901
|Elinor L. Woodhouse||71||Widow living on own means||b. Liverpool Lancashire|
|Elinor Drinkwater Woodhouse||39||Daughter, living on own means||b. Liverpool Lancashire|
|Martha Gordon Woodhouse||32||Daughter living on own means||b. Liverpool, Lancashire|
|Frances Blanche Maude||20||Visitor||b. Kensington, London|
|Jane Aubrey||32||Cook||b. Brecknockshire|
|Ellen George||70||Housemaid||b. Flint, Flintshire|
|Sarah Ann Anney||32||Housemaid||b. Canon Pyon, Herefordshire|
|Constance Ellen Wilkes||17||Housemaid||b. Kings Pyon, Herefordshire|
|Rosetta Preeece||29||Kitchen Maid||b. Weston Beggard, Herefordshire|
|Edmund Vaine||43||Butler||b. Stirling, Scotland|
Burghill Court Household – 1911
|Elinor L. Woodhouse||81||Widow living on own means||b. Liverpool, Lancashire|
|Elinor Drinkwater Woodhouse||49||Daughter living on own means||b. Liverpool, Lancashire|
|Martha Gordon Woodhouse||42||Daughter living on own means||b. Liverpool, Lancashire|
|Alice Woodhouse||58||b. Cheshire|
|Annie Bunn||27||Cook||b. Worcester|
|Alice Sarah Anne Probert||25||Housemaid||b. Eye, Herefordshire|
|Beatrice Emma Lewis||18||Housemaid||b. Stoke Prior, Herefordshire|
|Ella Dorothy Powell||16||Kitchenmaid||b. Bullingham, Herefordshire|
|Charles Houghton||29||Butler (and murderer!)||b. Cheshire|