Brinsop Court was originally built in the 13th century, but of course has been much extended and renovated since then. It lies some six miles from Hereford in glorious Herefordshire countryside and has a rich history, which includes the “fact” that St. George killed his dragon at nearby Brinsop Church.
For nearly five hundred years, the Court was in the hands of the Dansey family, who extended the house and added things such as the moat around the property, but eventually the line of Danseys came to an end, and in 1815 Brinsop Court was advertised for sale by auction:
The freehold estate comprised the Manor of Brinsop, with farm and cottages, including 550 acres of rich arable pasture, orchards and meadows. There was also beautiful woodland divided into seven coppices which formed the boundary to the estate. It was described as being “the most eligible property delightfully situated within the circle of a good neighbourhood, in a very fertile and beautiful part of the County, abounding with game and fish, and offers a desirable and beneficial investment for money.
The Turnpike Road from Weobley to Hereford runs through the estate, which is five miles distant from Hereford, ten from Leominster and two from the River Wye.”
David Ricardo was born in April 1772 in London, the third son of a family of Dutch Jews. He went into his father’s business at the age of 14, but he fell out with him over religion and struck out on his own as a member of the stock exchange.
He was something of a character to say the least, but very clever in his dealings on the stock exchange, and became extremely wealthy as a financial broker and speculator. Some reports on the internet have him being linked to the killing on the stock exchange following the French defeat at Waterloo – however given that he died in 1823 this seems a little far fetched! (Nathan Rothschild was the one who supposedly, by foul means, brought about the plunge in shares and then subsequently made a fortune – but this was a smear produced by an anti-Semitic who wrote under the name of “Satan”, and his writings have fairly recently been proved to be totally false).
David Ricardo was married to Priscilla and they produced three sons, and two daughters.
He bought many large properties, including Brinsop Court and Gatcombe Park – whilst he never lived at Brinsop, he died at Gatcombe Park.
He died in 1823 aged just 51, and his Will which was dated 4th April 1820 included the following legacies which rather show the extent of his wealth:
The Will of David Ricardo
To his widow he left four thousand pounds, plus a further four thousand pounds per annum for life.
His house in Upper Brook Street was to be sold, but all the furniture; carriages; horses; plate; library and wine etc. were also left to his wife.
His unmarried daughters were left £20,000 each, with any married ones receiving £5,000.
The estates of Bromesberrow, the White-leafed Oak Estate with furniture and effects, and others in the counties of Worcester and Gloucester were left to his son, Osman. (There was some speculation as to whether the ownership of Bromesberrow was valid, so David Ricardo left provision in the shape of £50,000 to cover any expenses regarding defence of same).
Gatcomb Park, with all furniture and effects, plus other estates in Gloucestershire, and also Brinsop Court were left to his son David.
Hadlow Place and Berrow in Kent were left to his third son, Mortimer.
For a brief period, David Ricardo’s son Osman took up residence at the Court, and was nominated Sheriff for Herefordshire.
Brinsop Court was then advertised for lease:
“All that Capital Farm called Brinsop Court, six miles from the city of Hereford, consisting of five hundred and fifty one acres of superior grass, arable and hop land. The incoming Tenant to enter upon the usual covenants of a Michaelmas Take, with the advantage of an ensuing crop of wheat.”
The tenants who first leased the Court were Thomas and Mary Hutchinson, brother and sister.
In 1844, the Hutchinsons advertised for a Ploughman to work with a large team of horses – they needed him to be married so that his wife could also be put to work, but they categorically stated that a large family would not be welcome!
Poet Laureate William Wordsworth frequently visited Mary at Brinsop Court, causing quite a stir on each occasion which usually resulted in a mention in the papers, and she went on to become his wife. Her sister Sara also periodically visited, she being a previous love interest of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Mary died a widow in Grasmere on 17th November 1858, at the home of her husband William Wordsworth.
Following the death of the Hutchinsons, Brinsop Court was first leased by a leading agriculturalist, Mr. Higgins, before being taken over by the Edwards for over 60 years, a farming family from Wales, starting with Peter Norman Edwards, and continuing on with his son Dearman.
Death of Child on Brinsop Court Estate
In 1858, this tragic story was reported and I include it because it is representative of many such events which came about because parents were forced to leave their children home alone.
“Brinsop – Another child burnt to death. On Tuesday last, H. Underwood Esq. held an inquest in this parish on the body of a child four years and six months old, the son of John Fox, a labourer for Mr. Edwards of Brinsop Court. On the previous Wednesday the deceased boy and a number of his brothers and sisters were left by themselves in the house while their mother and father were out at work hardy by. By some means, the boy’s clothes caught fire, and his terrific screams soon brought his parents to the spot. But before they came, a little sister only 11 years of age, with heroic courage and wonderful presence of mind considering her tender age, had stripped the clothes from the boy; but not until he had been burnt so badly that death ensued on the following Sunday, although Mr. Lomax, surgeon of Weobley, was called in and prescribed for the child. Another of Fox’s children had been previously burned, but not fatally.”
Brinsop Court falls into disrepair
In 1867 a group of archaeologists paid a visit to Brinsop, and the report was as follows:
“From the church, the party passed on to Brinsop Court, a celebrated mansion of the 15th century formerly the seat of the Dansey family, surrounded by a broad moat. This place afforded a rich treat to the archaologists from the many noticeable features of interest it contains; amongst others, the remains of a large hall or refectory, which has seemingly never been touched as regards repairs from its first formation. The old timbered roof of this building is in good preservation, being supported on curiously decorated arches springing from king posts erected on the centre of stout cross girders. The windows, now filled in, are otherwise in good preservation. Some remnants of the original and some rude colouring and plaster still remain. The place is now a farmhouse, fast falling into decay. The poet Wordsworth is said to have planted the fine Yew tree now standing in front of the house. The front gable of the house has the remains of a grotesquely carved figure…..”
It seems clear from this that whilst the tenants may have been very good farmers, they were less inclined to tend to the upkeep of the house and the landlord was not doing his job either!
The Yew tree planted by Wordsworth fell victim to severe gales in 1915
The Astley family at Brinsop Court
In 1912, Hubert Delaval Astley and Lady Sutton bought Brinsop Court, and they set about renovating and restoring the gardens. They also added an extension to the house.
Hubert, born in 1860, was a noted Ornithologist and in 1900 had a book published “My birds in freedom & captivity.”
The son of Lt. Col. Francis L’Estrange Astley, he graduated from Oxford University with a Master of Arts, and became the Rector of Ellesborough, Buckinghamshire. He married Constance Edith Corbet (this was her second marriage) in 1895, and died in May 1925 at Brinsop Court.
His son,Captain Philip Astley M.C. took over the Court, although his mother remained in residence, and this was his country seat whilst he had a flat near Cavendish Square and a villa near Lake Como in Italy.
Philip went to Eton, then Sandhurst; following the outbreak of war, he went to France in 1915 and won the M.C. during the retreat from St. Quentin, while serving with the Machine Gun Corps. As well as Brinsop Court, he also owned an estate in Kenya.
In 1931 he became engaged to one of England’s most beautiful and successful actresses, Madeleine Carroll, who was a B.A of Birmingham University, and was once a school teacher. Just before the announcement of the engagement, she was in the stage production of “After All” at the Criterion Theatre, but the stress of this and recent film work made it necessary for her to take a rest. She went abroad to Italy, and shortly afterwards Captain Philip Astley joined her – they married at a quiet ceremony and remained together for nine years enjoying high society life before Madeleine returned to acting and eventually, divorce.
She was rather a wonderful and compassionate lady, and following the death of her sister in an air raid on London she devoted much of her time to helping those affected by the war; she became a member of the Red Cross and turned her French Chateau to war orphans.
Sir Derrick Bailey
After the war, Captain Astley sold Brinsop Court to Sir Derrick Bailey – a fascinating man born in London in 1918, his father was Sir Abraham Bailey 1st Bt, a millionaire and companion of Cecil Rhodes. His half brother, John, married Churchill’s daughter, Diana. Derrick also had a twin sister, Ann.
He was educated at Winchester and then Christ Church, Oxford, and gained cricketing expertise playing for Oxfordshire in 1937. By this time his father was growing old, and Derrick went to South Africa to help him, then when war broke out he joined the South African Irish Regiment. Unfortunately he contracted malaria and was transferred to the South African Air Force in 1940. Three years later, he became a member of RAF 223 Squadron, flying the Baltimore bomber. He was eventually made formation leader after many sorties, and his biggest challenge was the support of the Allies when they advanced on Italy – after 50 bombing sorties during the Italian campaign he was awarded the DFC. He left the Squadron in 1944 to serve in the Middle East and South Africa before leaving as a Captain in 1946, at which point he inherited his father’s baronetcy and bought Brinsop Court.
Derrick went to the Royal Agricultural College in Circencester before applying himself to the farm at Brinsop, he also took up cricket again and secured a place on the Gloucestershire second X1 team. He went from strength to strength and became a first class cricketer and also Captain of the team in 1951/52 after which he devoted his free time to the Herefordshire Gents cricket side and also hunting – he became joint Master of the Radnor and West Herefordshire Hunt, and later Master of the North Hereford Hunt. He also loved racing, and joinly owned “Holmbush” the mount of Lester Piggott who rode to a splendid win in 1950.
Derrick never lost his love of flying, and in the 1960s he set up Glos-Air, an aircraft maintenance company based at Staverton airport. Also he established Aurigny Air Services which ran between Alderney, Guernsey, Jersey, France and England. He took up golf, a hobby he pursued until his death aged 90.
He married twice – in 1946 to Nancy Stormonth Darling, with whom he had four sons and a daughter, and following divorce, in 1980 to Jean Roscoe. This marriage also ended in divorce.
In 2008, Brinsop Court was purchased by Martin and Pat Churchward who have set about further repairs to the building. It is now funded by its rebirth as a self catering holiday centre.
1841 census for Brinsop Court
Brinsop Court Household and Servants 1851 census
|Peter Norman Edwards||47||Farmer b. Radnorshire|
|Rebecca Edwards||42||Wife b. Shaftsbury|
|Norman Edwards||8||Son b. Radnorshire|
|Frederic Edwards||4||Son b. Radnorshire|
|Bernard Edwards||8||Son b. Radnorshire|
|Octavius Edwards||9 months||Son b. Radnorshire|
|John Shipley||74||Father in Law, gentleman b. Dorsetshire|
|Eleanor Davies||26||Cook b. Radnorshire|
|Elizabeth Davies||25||Housemaid b. Radnorshire|
|Elizabeth Lewis||22||Nursemaid b. Radnorshire|
|Benjamin Williams||44||Gamekeeper b. Radnorshire|
|William Suter||20||Shepherd b. Radnorshire|
|Thomas Janes||19||Servant b. Brinsop, Herefordshire|
Brinsop Court Household and servants 1861 census
|Peter Norman Edwards||56||Farmer b. Radnorshire|
|Rebecca Edwards||51||Wife b. Radnorshire|
|Dearman Edwards||21||Son b. Radnorshire|
|Jane Edwards||19||Daughter b. Radnorshire|
|Norman Edwards||18||Son b. Radnorshire|
|Frederic Edwards||14||Son b. Radnorshire|
|Sophia Edwards||8||Daughter b Brinsop, Herefordshire|
|Isabella Horrocks||28||Governess b. St. Johns, Hereford|
|Sarah Broad||26||Cook b. Kington, Herefordshire|
|Julia Dobbs||20||Housemaid b. Herefordshire|
|Benjamin Luter||25||Shepherd b. Glascombe, Herefordshire|
|Richard Lloyd||19||Servant b. Herefordshire|
Brinsop Court Household and servants 1871 census
|Rebecca Edwards||67||Widow b. Radnorshire|
|Dearman Edwards||30||Son b. Radnorshire|
|Norman Edwards||28||Son b. Radnorshire|
|Jane Edwards||29||Daughter b. Radnorshire|
|Frederic Edwards||24||Son, Bank Clerk, b. Radnorshire|
|Bernard Edwards||22||Son, Farmer, b. Radnorshire|
|Octavias Edwards||21||Son, Medical Student, b. Radnorshire|
|Sophia Edwards||18||Daughter b. Brinsop Court, Herefordshire|
|Mary B. Syms||22||Visitor|
|Adda Richards||20||Domestic Servant b. Herefordshire|
|William Corbett||23||Groom b. Stoke Lacy, Herefordshire|
|Thomas Evans||15||Farm servant (indoor) b Brinsop, Herefordshire|
Brinsop Court Household and Servants 1881 census
|Dearman Edwards||41||Farmer b. Radnorshire|
|Clarice A. Edwards||36||Wife b. Cheltenham Gloucestershire|
|Winifred T. Edwards||3||Daughter b. Brinsop, Herefordshire|
|Dearman S. Edwards||1||Son b. Brinsop, Herefordshire|
|Louise V. Jewesbury||8||Niece b. Swindon, Wiltshire|
|Mary G. Jewesbury||6||Nece b. Swindon, Wiltshire|
|Edith E. Boyd||26||Visitor b. Liverpool|
|Ann Pugh||43||Cook b. Glasbury, Radnorshire|
|May J. French||22||Housemaid b. Huntingdonshire|
|Jane Bowcoth||20||Nurse b. Tupsley, Herefordshire|
|Thomas Bowcoth||24||Groom b. Tupsley, Herefordshire|
Brinsop Court Household and Servants 1891 census
|Dearman Edwards||51||Farmer, Auctioneer and Valuer b. Wacton, Radnorshire|
|Clarice A. Edwards||46||Wife b. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire|
|Winifred T. Edwards||13||Daughter b. Brinsop, Herefordshire|
|Dearman L. Edwards||11||Son b. Brinsop, Herefordshire|
|Beatrice M. C. Edwards||8||Daughter b. Brinsop, Herefordshire|
|Harold D. Dewesbury||20||Nephew, Civil Engineer, b. London|
|Harry L.B. Burgess||13||Visitor b. Cambridge|
|Anne Pugh||50||Cook b. Brecon|
|Julia Luther||27||Maid b. Brinsop, Herefordshire|
|Ellen Morris||14||Housemaid b. Tillington, Herefordshire|
|Alfred Arrowsmith||27||Groom b. Ludlow, Salop|
Brinsop Court Household and Servants 1901 census
|Dearman Edwards||61||Farmer b. Radnorshire|
|Clarice A. Edwards||56||Wife b. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire|
|Winifred T. Edwards||22||Daughter b. Brinsop, Herefordshire|
|Dearman L. Edwards||21||Son b. Brinsop, Herefordshire|
|Richard W. Ellwood||22||Visitor b. Gloucester|
|Annie M. Tucker||29||Cook b. Weston Super Mare|
|Annie L. Blenkin||14||General Domestic Servant b. Brinsop, Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Jones||17||General Domestic Servant b. Yazor, Herefordshire|
Brinsop Court Household and Servants 1911 census
|Dearman Edwards||71||Farmer and Valuer b. Radnorshire|
|Clarice Amelia Edwards||68||Wife b. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire|
|Beatrice Marie Clarice Edwards||28||Daughter b. Brinsop, Herefordshire|
|Martha Rawlings||26||Cook b. Herefordshire|
|Annie Blenkin||24||Parlour Maid b. Herefordshire|
|Frederic Henry Edwards||34||Nephew, Solicitor, b. Holmer, Hereford|
|Leslie Shorland Ball||23||Visitor b. Eccles, Lancashire|