Holme Lacy House is not far from Hereford, and is the largest manor house in Herefordshire. It started life in around the 14th century, after Walter de Lacy was granted the estate by William the Conqueror following his support for William during the Norman Conquest, and his daughter Clarice de Lacy married Thomas Scudamore (a great Herefordshire family); a descendant of this marriage, John Scudamore, built a large brick house in the shape of the letter “H”, with gables and stone pillions, and successive generations enlarged and improved the building until in 1674 it was much as you see it today, although renovations were carried out in the 19th century.
The mansion became renowned for its beautiful gardens, and the five miles of salmon fishing along the River Wye, and King Charles lst and his retinue honored the house with a visit in 1645, something which all of the grand country houses aspired to at the time.
The Scudamores and Holme Lacy House
Of Norman origins, the Scudamores were widespread throughout the county of Herefordshire, and beyond. George Scudamore, the descendant of Clarice de Lacy and Thomas Scudamore, settled in Holme Lacy and successive generations inherited the house; great great grandson John was Receiver for Henry VIII during the dissolution of the monasteries, and his grandson John was Elizabeth I’s Usher.
Edwyn Francis Scudamore-Stanhope 10th Earl of Chesterfield
Sir Edwyn (sometimes spelled Edwin) was by all accounts a well liked and respected man. In 1832 after a long absence from Herefordshire, he returned home to a rapturous welcome.
It was reported that: “ the reception of Sir Edwyn and Lady Scudamore Stanhope was marked by an enthusiasm not easily to be forgotten either by themselves or by those who were fortunate enough to witness it
” At Hoarwithy they had the first intimation of the jubilee which they had occasioned, and of the joyous welcome that had been prepared for them, by finding an arch of evergreens and flowers thrown across the road, and by seeing a gay concourse of the villagers, with a band of music coming out to meet them, by whom they were loudly cheered as they passed onwards. At Dewchurch they encountered a similar indication of respect, with the addition of their phaeton being stopped by the peasantry, and decorated with bouquets of flowers. From thence, they were accompanied by an increasing multitude to Caldicot turnpike, where at the entrance to the road leading down to the park, over which also a gaily decorated arch of evergreens had been thrown, they were met by hundreds of horsemen, consisting of the tenantry of the estate, headed by the steward and several gentleman and tradesmen from Hereford and the neighbourhood, with laurel in their hats and wearing breast knots of blue ribbon, accompanied by a multitude on foot. It is impossible to convey an adequate idea of the tumultuous cheering that took place as the travellers drove up.”
Sir Edwyn certainly knew how to throw a good party, and the papers reported on them at great length, including his custom of giving all his domestic staff plus any friends, family and neighbours that they wished to invite, a lavish New Year party. The servants and their guests would assemble at nine and would be given a hearty reception followed by adjournment to the hall which had been decorated with all things Christmassy to within an inch of its life! Dancing was followed by a lavish repast.
After one such New Year party, the house steward Mr. Bratby (possibly Bradley as shown in the census below) proposed the health of Sir Edwyn, who he described as one of the best and kindest of masters and a perfect specimen of the class of old English gentlemen.
1851 – Holme Lacy House Household
|Sir Edwin Francis Stanhope||57||b. Bath|
|Lady Mary S. Stanhope||52||b. Calcutta, India|
|S. Berkley S. Stanhope||26||Son b. London|
|John Phillpots||24||Groom, b. Herefordshire|
|Silas Evans||16||Footboy b. Tarrington, Herefordshire|
|Eliza Marley||35||Housekeeper b. Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Staud||43||Lady’s Maid b. Monmouth|
|Isabella Barringdon||38||Lady’s Maid b. Middlesex|
|Hester Edwards||32||Housemaid b. Herefordshire|
|Hannah Rumble||18||Housemaid b. Herefordshire|
|Mary Jones||22||Dairymaid b. Pembrokeshire, Wales|
|Harriet Waud||20||Kitchenmaid b. Weobley, Herefordshire|
|George Evans||49||House Carpenter b. Little Birch, Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Evans||50||? b. Herefordshire|
In 1855, Captain Edwyn Stanhope the fourth son of Edwin Francis Scuadmore-Stanhope, died on 13th September aged just 30.
He died in Hong Kong whilst serving with his regiment, and was much lamented by his fellow officers; the Colonel of the regiment wrote a moving letter to the family, saying “Knowing as you do, how beloved he was by us all, I need not endeavour to convey what our feelings are. We have lost one of the most noble hearted, most honourable, and affectionate men that ever drew a sword”.
Lady Scudamore Stanhope died in the summer of 1859 – she had been unwell for many years, but was much loved by not only her friends and relatives but also the poor around their estate.
1861 – Holme Lacy House Household
|Edwyn A.J. Stanhope||67||Baronet, retired Captain||b. Bath, Somerset|
|William P. Stanhope||33||M.A. Curate of Ballingham||b. Holme Lacy, Herefordshire|
|William Bradley||46||Butler||b. Derbyshire|
|Robert White||42||Coachman||b. Welsh Bicknor, Herefordshire|
|George Scudamore||19||Groom||b. Longhope, Gloucestershire|
|Charles Perkins||21||Footman||b. Mordiford, Herefordshire|
|William Mapp||19||Second Footman||b. Much Cowarne, Herefordshire|
|Amy Baker||39||Housekeeper||b. Cambridgeshire|
|Elizabeth Stead||58||Lady’s Maid||b. Monmouthshire|
|Frances Carter||30||Laundress||b. Northamptonshire|
|Elizabeth Williams||35||Housemaid||b. Radnorshire|
|Jane Williams||26||Cook||b. Flintshire|
|Mary Bailey||24||Under Housemaid||Little Birch, Herefordshire|
|Mary Ann ?||23||Kitchen Maid||b. Crickhowell, Monmouthshire|
1871 – Home Lacy House Household
|William Stanhope||43||Vicar of Ballingham||b. Holme Lacy, Herefordshire|
|John Corbet||24||Footman||b. Portland Place, Middlesex|
|William Davies||19||Footman||b. Gloucestershire|
|Robert White||52||Coachman||b. Welsh Bicknor, Herefordshire|
|William Willetts||25||Groom||b. Bourton on the Hill, Gloucestershire|
|Mary Lowe||34||b. Warwickshire|
|Emma Jones||32||Cook||b. Newcastle, Monmouthshire|
|Hannah Walker||22||Housemaid||b. Bodenham, Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Williams||41||Housemaid||b. Berkshire|
|Elizabeth Head||68||Housekeeper||b. Monmouthshire|
|Mary Stephens||17||Housemaid||b. Dinedor, Herefordshire|
|Jane Price||18||Kitchenmaid||b. Hentland, Herefordshire|
Edwin Francis Scudamore-Stanhope died in 1874.
1881 – Holme Lacy House Household
|Henry S. Stanhope||59||Baronet, Magistrate||b. Teignmouth, Devon|
|Dorathea S. Stanhope||53||Wife||b. Scotland|
|Jane Herbert||40||Cook||b. Cheltenham, Glos|
|Adele Grundmann||35||Lady’s Maid||b. Switzerland|
|Jane Williams||27||Laundry Maid||b. Breconshire|
|Harriett Exton||34||Housemaid||b. Homer, Herefordshire|
|Sarah Minard||18||Housemaid||b. Much Dewchurch, Herefordshire|
|Mary Pritchard||21||Kitchenmaid||b.St. Devereux, Herefordshire|
|Marianne Williams||17||Scullery Maid||b. Herefordshire|
|Job Sarviul (?)||44||Coachman||b. Gloucestershire|
|James Martin||25||Footman||b. Woodthorpe, Nottinghamshire|
|Charles Jackson||19||Footman||b. Shrivenham, Berkshire|
1891 – Holme Lacy House Household
(I am really not convinced that I have transcribed the names correctly…..the writing on the census return was appalling….if anyone can correct me I would be delighted)
|Frances Ellbiverson||54||Wife||b. Suffolk|
|Louisa M. Ellbiverson||26||Daughter||b. Hanover Square, London|
|Cecil P. Ellbiverson||22||Son||b. Paddington, London|
|Harold A. Ellbiverson||19||Son||b. Paddington, London|
|Belina Rees (?)||32||Housekeeper||b. Huntington, Herefordshire|
|Ellen Piper||28||Lady’s Maid||b. London|
|Annie Fraser||40||Housemaid||b. Scotland|
|Rachel Mason||23||Housemaid||b. Cambridgeshire|
|Elizabeth Waters||19||Housemaid||b. Pimlico, London|
|Clara Taylor||22||Kitchenmaid||b. Pimlico, London|
|Jane Alexander||19||Scullerymaid||b. Hampshire|
|Harry Goldsmith||23||Footman||b. Hanover Square, London|
|Ernest Scott||19||Footman||b. Essex|
|David Ripper||52||Butler||b. Thetford, Norfolk|
|Charles Taverner||59||Coachman/Groom||b. Malden, Essex|
1901 – Holme Lacy House Household
|Enid Chesterfield||22||Wife||b. Yorkshire|
|Bernard H. Gunston||43||Visitor, Army Captain||b. Lancashire|
|Evelyn Stanhope||34||Visitor, Chief Police Constable of Herefordshire||b. Bath, Somerset|
|Maggie M. Ashill||30||Cook||b. Scotland|
|Constance Ashill||25||Lady’s Maid||b. Leicestershire|
|May Stuart||32||Housemaid||b. Aberdeen, Scotland|
|Mary Marpole||25||Laundry Maid||b. Herefordshire|
|Susan Burchill||22||Kitchenmaid||b. Henley, Oxon|
|Alice Porter||26||Housemaid||b. Middlesex|
|Gertrude Jessop||18||Housemaid||b. Hull, Yorkshire|
|Lottie Llewellyn||18||Scullery Maid||b. Herefordshire|
|George Fiandes (?)||54||Butler||b. Dorset|
|Albert Cooke||29||Butler||b. Welsh Newton, Herefordshire|
|Herbert H (?)||20||General Servant||b. Norfolk|
|John Gains||23||General Servant||b. Dinedor, Herefordshire|
|William Evans||16||General Servant||b. Norfolk|
The Sale of Holme Lacy House in 1902
After six hundred years in the same family, Holme Lacy House was put up for sale by the 11th Earl of Chesterfield, along with the estate of 5,542 acres; six villages; eighteen farms, deer park and ancient gardens. The Earl and Countess said goodbye to their beloved Herefordshire home, and the minute they left the property it was overrun by the auctioneers and their men who were keen to arrange the lots for sale = absolutely everything was to go, from the bootscraper to the contents of the attic, and I can imagine their distress as they left for their new home – Cambridge House in Regents Park, London.
Once the contents of the house had been catalogued, the lots included valuable paintings by old masters, tapestries, a Tudor refectory table, Chinese bookcase, and many pieces of beautiful historical furniture.
In 1909 the house and estate was again put up for sale, and although during the formal auction the reserve price was not met, a purchase was made by private arrangement by Robert Lucas Tooth.
Sir Robert Lucas Tooth
In 1910 Holme Lacy house was bought by Sir Robert Lucas Tooth, an Australian millionaire and the son of Mr. Edwin Tooth of Cranbrook, Kent. He was born in 1844 and assumed by Royal license the name and arms of Lucas-Tooth, then was created a baronet in 1906. He was educated at Eton, after which he had a seat in two parliaments in Australia. He returned to England in 1889 and contested the Loughborough division of Leicestershire as a Conservative in 1895.
He was a philanthropist and in 1913 gave a gift of £50,000 to Prince Alexander of Teck, as the start of a fund for the purpose of assisting and extending existing organisations for the “physical and moral training of boys”. In the same year, he sent a donation of £1000 to the Mawson Antarctic Expedition Relief Fund, helping the “Aurora” commanded by Captain J.K.Davis to reach King George V. Land and bring back Dr. Mawson and six others who were over wintering there.
In 1914 Sir Robert contributed £10,000 to Lady Dudley’s Field Hospital, set up so that Australians could play their part in the war before being able to actively contribute.
He had two sons, both of which died in action during WW1 – Captain Sedwyn Lucas Tooth, Lancashire Fusiliers was the elder, and the younger was Captain Duglas Lucas Tooth of the 9th Lancers.
First House in Herefordshire to have electricity
Sir Robert spent a great deal of money on Holme Lacy House, making it the first house in Herefordshire to have electricity installed, powered by generators and huge batteries, and he also installed a sewage system and interior water supply.
1911 – Holme Lacy House Household
|Helen Gordon||37||Servant||b. London|
|Beatrice Diddans||28||Servant||b. Hatfield, Hertfordshire|
|Elizabeth Lampard||22||Servant||b. Essex|
|John Thomas||49||Night Watchman||b. England|
After the death of Sir Robert at the age of 71, and the death of his two sons there were no heirs to the estate and it was again sold on in 1919 to R. Hadden Tebb, who in turn offloaded it five years later to Noel Wills.
Noel H. Wills
Noel Wills had other properties as well as Holme Lacy House, including a large mansion in Scotland which he bought in 1913, and the beautiful Miserden Park in Gloucestershire purchased in 1925.
In 1922 the Holme Lacy Estate was offered for sale by auction in London, but although bidding was initially good the reserve price was not reached, and the same applied to the residential section of the estate which included four miles of salmon fishing.
Holme Lacy House given to Herefordshire Council
In 1929 following the death of Mr. F. Noel H. Wills the estate was offered as a gift to Herefordshire Council by the executors and trustees, suggesting that it might be suitable for scholastic purposes. It was also pointed out that it was centrally situated for meets of the South Herefordshire, Ledbury and Berkeley foxhounds, and also for golf at Hereford, Ross, Malvern and Ledbury. A condition of the gift was that the mansion house was not to be destroyed or sold without the consent of the donor.
The estate had already changed hands twice in a short period of time and was now proving difficult to sell, and in 1930 Herefordshire councillors went to inspect the property. Their subsequent recommendations were that it should be used as a training college, the students to be relocated there from Hereford, but that the main building should be used for “mental defectives”. Also Staff from the County Council should transfer there, and that the land garden and outbuildings should be used as a non residential farm institute. These recommendations were debated, and adopted.
Holme Lacy House today
Currently the beautiful house is part of the Warner Leisure Group, and I suppose that in one way it is good that the future of this historic building is assured but I personally find it sad that it has had to sprout a vast extension in order to accommodate the thousands of guests. I wonder how many people book in on the assumption that they will be staying in the house itself?!
The training college and equestrian centre are thriving and are highly thought of.