Wormsley Grange was built in around the mid 18th century, and is best known for being the birthplace of Richard Payne Knight, the landscape theorist, and his brother Thomas Andrew Knight the renowned horticulturist who planted his hugely successful experimental fruit orchards in the grounds.
Thomas Andrew Knight was responsible for developing much of the fruit and vegetables that we enjoy now, and he was mentioned in Darwin’s The Origin of Species for his work on cultivated plants.
Click here to read more about Thomas Knight at Downton Castle.
Richard Payne Knight
Richard Payne Knight was born in 1750, and was a sickly child who didn’t attend school until he was 14; he went on the Grand Tour to Italy in 1767 and remained there for a few years. Richard returned to Italy time and again and by all accounts at this time he was rather a shy young man, and a tad dull but remarkably intelligent.
However, once back in Herefordshire he set about designing and building the castellated mansion, Downton Castle near Ludlow, and he achieved some acclaim for his unorthodox architectural skills. He was better received for his natural landscape designs.
Richard Payne Knight became an MP and retained his Ludlow seat for 22 years; he wrote poetry in his spare time, but his offerings didn’t go down well with pundits such as Horace Walpole – he ended up being blackballed by the Literary Club in 1795 and became known as “the Pagan”. All this notwithstanding, he was a founder of the British Institution in 1805, and never stopped striving to expand his literary and fine art knowledge.
In 1809 Richard gave Downton Castle to his brother Thomas, and went to London where he enjoyed endless dinner parties, and ate rather more than any person should – in consequence of which he became somewhat large and died of a stroke in 1824.
He was buried in the churchyard at Wormsley.
Click here for more on Downton Castle and Richard Payne Knight
Wormsley Grange passed through many hands down the years; for example in the 1830s it was lived in and farmed by a Mr. Reynolds. When he packed up and moved out the following advert appeared in the local papers which leads me to believe that Mr. Reynolds was a keen breeder of horses:
Sale of Valuable Live and Dead Stock
Grey Mare, Derby, 6 years old.
Grey Mare, Jolly, 6 years old
Black Gelding, Surly, 6 years old
Black Mare, Diamond, 6 years old
Black Mare, Lester, 6 years old
Black Mare, Bunting, 6 years old
Black Mare, Blackbird in foal to Suffolk horse
Entire Suffolk horse, aged, warranted perfectly sound; a good worker, free from vice and a sure foal getter.
Brown Cart Gelding, rising 3 years by Young Merriman, dam Blackbird
Chestnut Filly rising 2 by Suffolk Horse, dam Blackbird
Chestnut Colt, rising 2 by Suffolk Horse, dam Bunting
Yearling Colt by Suffolk House, dam Bunting
Bay Gelding, 16 hands, aged, quiet in harness
Brown Galloway filly, 4, with good action
Brown filly, 15 hands, in fine condition, 5, by General
Brown filly, rising 4 dam by Lishmahago
Brown gelding rising 3, by Young Merriman, dam by Master Henry (promising to make a fine match horse)
Grey Gelding rising 3, by Fitznoble, dam by Ludlow (a very promising colt)
Chestnut Colt rising 2, by Tom Brown, dam by Lishmahago
Bay colt, rising 2, by Suffolk horse
Yearling black Filly by Suffolk horse, dam by Lishmahago
Following Mr. Reynolds came Edmund Leader, who specialised in pure bred Hereford cattle, all of which were descended from the celebrated herd of Mr. Wheeler of Ivington.
On his death in 1841, all the stock was put up for sale, along with the contents of Wormsley Grange and the advertisement gives an insight into how the house was furnished:
Excellent Brussels carpets; hearth rugs, fenders and fire irons; handsome mahogany 12 foot dining table; mahogany and other chairs; mahogany round two leaf and Pembroke tables; mahogany sofa with satin hair covering; oil table covers; clock faced barometer; butler’s tray and stand; excellent 8 day clock; a splendid Spanish mahogany four post bedstead with cornice poles, brass rings and elegant drab damask furniture; other four post and tent bedsteads, straw palliasses, superior goose feather beds, bolsters and pillows; Witney blankets, Marseilles quilts and cotton counterpanes; elegant mahogany wardroble, mahogany and other chests with drawers, swing dressing glasses; wash stands and chamber ware; night commodes and dressing tables; bed-round carpets and chamber horses; roller blinds; eight pairs of flaxen sheets, twelve pillow cases; 6 damask tablecloths; 12 chamber towels etc. and a large variety of dairy, kitchen and culinary requisites. A quantity of china, glass and earthenware.
Edward Farr then took over Wormsley Grange, and he remained there until his death; his wife died a few years later and their eldest son Richard took over the running of the farm.
Wormsley Grange remains a working farm to this day.
1851 – Wormsley Grange Household
|Jane Farr||53||Widow, farmer of 500 acres employing 10 labourers||b. Carmarthenshire, Wales|
|Richard Farr||24||Son||b. St Peters, Carmarthenshire, Wales|
|William Farr||19||Son||b. St. Peters, Carmarthenshire, Wales|
|Robert Farr||17||Son||b. St. Peters, Carmarthenshire, Wales|
|Eliza Daniel||18||Niece||b. St. Peters, Carmarthenshire, Wales|
|Susannah Morgan||15||House Servant||b. Radnorshire, Wales|
|George Tomkins||28||Farm Labourer||b. Norton Canon, Herefordshire|
|Thomas Price||23||Farm Labourer||b. Herefordshire|
|William Jones||12||Farm Labourer||b. Hampton, Gloucestershire|
|John Pugh||40||Farm Labourer||b. Herefordshire|
1861 – Wormsley Grange Household
|Richard Farr||36||Farmer of 511 acres employing 10 men and 3 boys||b. Carmarthenshire, Wales|
|Annie Farr||32||Wife||b. Carmarthenshire, Wales|
|W.A. Aubrey Farr||5||Son||b. Wormsley, Herefordshire|
|C Sylverwood Hall||20||Pupil learning farming||b. Alfreton, Derbyshire|
|Harriet Bayley||21||Housemaid||b. Mordiford, Herefordshire|
|Joan Williams||56||Cook||b. Brecknockshire, Wales|
1871 – Wormsley Grange Household
|William Pinder||71||Chelsea Pensioner and Bailiff||b. Lincolnshire|
|Elizabeth Pinder||66||Wife||b. Shropshire|
|John Rollins||32||Lodger – Labourer||b. Gloucestershire|
1881 – Wormsley Grange, Household
|Susanna Moss||55||Farmer 506 acres||b. Paddington, Middlesex|
|Mary A. Horn||46||Sister, widow||b. Paddington, Middlesex|
|Thomas Bowen||20||Groom||b. Credenhill, Herefordshire|
|Sarah A. Pinfold||30||Cook||b. Knowle, Warwickshire|
|Mary Sirrell (?)||24||Housemaid||b. Kinnersley, Herefordshire|
|Anne Gunter||15||General Domestic Servant||b. Birley, Herefordshire|
1891 – Wormsley Grange Household
|Dennis James||27||Farmer||b. London|
|Emilie James||30||Wife||b. Clapham, London|
|Bessie James||4||Daughter||b. Weobley, Herefordshire|
|Reginald Dennis James||3||Son||b. Weobley, Herefordshire|
|Herbert Davies||20||Groom||b. Weobley, Herefordshire|
|Kate Emily White||25||Governess||b. Gloucestershire|
|Mary Ann Morris||22||Cook||b. Herefordshire|