Dormington Court dates from the early 17th century, and became much larger when an extension was built in the early 18th century.
It is part timber frame and part brick, and originally boasted a superb stable block; it is now a hotel and many of the original farm buildings have been bulldozed and replaced with a housing estate.
One of the most notable owners was William Vevers.
William Vevers of Dormington Court was born in 1782, the son of John Vevers of Yarkhill Court. He was a rider to hounds and was well known in the area since childhood, few better men across country were to be found anywhere in England.
William Vevers and Horse Racing
William was a frequent competitor for the Hunters’ Stakes at Hereford Races, not only riding his own horses but also those of his friends. He was said to have an elegant and firm seat, and he won the race at Warwick in 1816 for the Hunters’ Stakes, in five heats, with his mare Bradamante, by Brigliadoro. He owned many racehorses, including the incredible Lady Byron who was perhaps the best four mile horse of her time. She was by Sir Ulic, and was a small, light, horse but had a glittering career which ended with her winning at Newmarket in 1818. The race made her a great favourite for the Worcestershire Stakes, but a rather stupid trainer gave her one gallop too many during the preparation, and she broke down just before the race. She was kept on as a brood mare and she produced some stunning horses.
William Vevers and Steeple Chasing
It was in the steeple chasing sphere that Mr. Vevers was most well known; he began by winning the Ross Steeple Chase with his horse Sailor Boy, even though incredibly he suffered a heavy fall in the course of the race. One of his most famous steeplechasers was Charity, by Woodman, who was bought by Mr. Vevers from Mr. Williams of Cowarn Court, Herefordshire, having never won a race. This soon changed, and he won the Usk stakes and the hurdle race at Cardiff, as well as the hurdle race at Monmouth in 1836. He went on to win numerous other prestigious races including the great Liverpool steeplechase in 1841 (the Grand National of the day?).His last race was at Swindon, which he lost through no fault of his own, and William Vevers kept him at home until he died on 3rd March 1848 – the anniversary of his win at Liverpool.
William went on to own many superb horses and had many successes, including at Paris in 1846 when he was 64 years old, although in this instance he came second. The last steeplechase he rode was at Ledbury in 1849, which he won on his horse Vengeance.
In October 1855, his whole valuable stud was put up for sale by auction, including the steeplechasers Vainhope; Vengeance; Hardwick and Little Tommy.
William Vevers was also a courser, and a breeder of top class dogs although he wasn’t too keen on this, but he did enjoy fishing.
Testimonials to William Vevers
A testimonial, in the form of a massive silver tea and supper service, with toast rack, spoons and forks, was presented to William in 1845 by friends and neighbours, which perhaps sums up his character:
“Presented to William Vevers Esq. of Dormington Court, Herefordshire, by his friends and neighbours, in testimony of his generous and social qualities, superior talent and determined zeal and activity which have distinguished him as a sportsman for more than half a century; and in grateful acknowledgement of the spirited manner in which he upheld the pre-eminence of his native county in the contest between the members of the Herefordshire and Monmouthshire Hunts at their steeplechase on 27th February 1845”.
In 1838, a silver tankard was presented to him:
“The gift of the Rev. J. Leyson Penoyre to William Vevers Esq. of Dormington Court for the best thoroughbred stallion used in the county of Hereford, and also for the spirited exertions in the improvement of the breed of horses in that county”.
In fact, the best hunter he ever owned was Rattler, a very fast animal who was able to carry 20 stone. At the age of ten he was sold to the French Government for 300 guineas, and proved to be one of the best stallions ever imported to France.
William died on 23rd April 1858 after a long illness, he was 76.
William’s wife, Elizabeth, died 28th February 1862 at Dormington Court
Dormington Court Household 1851
|William Vevers||Head||68||Farmer b. Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Vevers||Wife||64||b. Herefordshire|
|Thomas Vevers||Son||34||Son b. Herefordshire|
|Richard Vevers||Son||32||Son b. Herefordshire|
|Edward Vevers||Son||16||Son b. Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Smythe||Daughter||40||Widow b. Herefordshire|
|Charles Vevers||Son||29||Son b. Herefordshire|
|John Vevers||Visitor||79||b. Herefordshire|
|Samuel Bradshaw||45||Housekeeper, b. Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Meek||22||General Servant, b. Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Price||24||General Servant b. Herefordshire|
|Ann Bailey||12||General Servant b. Herefordshire|
|Edward Edwards||18||General Servant b. Herefordshire|
|James Hicks||20||General Servant b. Gloucestershire|
|George Stephens||21||General Servant b. Warwickshire|
|Frederick Lawrence||15||General Servant b. Gloucestershire|
|Richard Jenkins||14||General Servant b. Gloucestershire|
|William Morris||23||General Servant b. Herefordshire|
|John Hill||25||General Servant b. Herefordshire|
|Thomas Howells||36||General Servant b. Herefordshire|
Dormington Court Household 1861
|Elizabeth Vevers||Head||75||Farmer and employer, b. Herefordshire|
|Thomas Vevers||Son||46||Son, b. Dormington, Herefordshire|
|Frances Vevers||Daughter||32||b. Dormington, Herefordshire|
|Catharine Jenkins||27||House Servant, b. Herefordshire|
|Esther ??||25||House Servant b. Herefordshire|
Dormington Court Household 1871
|Thomas Vevers||Head||52||Farmer (unmarried)|
|Ann Williams||40||General Servant b. Herefordshire|
Dormington Court Household 1881
|Henry Hall||Head||32||Farmer b. Yarkhill, Herefordshire|
|Catherine Hall||Wife||40||b. Bosbury, Herefordshire|
|Annie Pitt||16||Domestic Servant b. Dormington, Herefordshire|
|Emma Eversham||12||Domestic Servant b. Mordiford, Herefordshire|
Dormington Court Household 1911
|George Henry Bray||Head||37||Unmarried farmer, born Dilwyn, Herefordshire|
|Sarah Ann Line||57||Housekeeper, b. Knighton, Radnorshire|
|Florence Baugh||15||General Servant, b. Herefordshire|
|Herbert Lewis||16||Assistant Groom, b. Withington, Herefordshire|