Fownhope Court started life in the 17th century, with renovations and alterations in the 19th and 20th centuries. I believe that the Court was owned by Sir William Gregory in the mid 1600s, but it was later sold to the Lechmere family who remained there right through to the 1900s.
In 1831 John Scudamore Lechmere, was at Fownhope Court, when his only daughter Catherine J.A. Lechmere died suddenly at her brother’s house in Lugwardine.
The Lechmeres of Fownhope Court
The Lechmere family were generally well respected in Herefordshire, but one chap frequently found himself on the wrong side of the law.
Thomas Lechmere was born in 1819, and married Elizabeth Eckley in 1846
Thomas Lechmere was a bit of a lad it seems, and maybe not the most pleasant of characters even though he was a Magistrate for the county and a landed proprietor. In 1869 he was charged at Hereford City Police Court with being drunk; with assaulting his wife, and refusing to leave the residence of Mr. J. Cleave when required to do so.
Mr. J. Gwillim, solicitor, appeared in support of the charge.
Mr. Cleave, also a solicitor and clerk of the peace for the country, stated that Thomas Lechmere called at his house in Bridge Street, Hereford, during the evening and asked to see his wife who was there at the time. Thomas said that he was going to take her home and that he would not leave without her…….he was horribly drunk, and appeared deranged with disgustingly coarse language and conduct. During his tirade, his wife came into the room and she flatly refused to go home with him, whereupon Thomas ran at her and hit her such a violent blow that the crack could be heard in a distant room.
Mr. Cleave went on to say that he knew that this was not the first time that Thomas had assaulted his wife, and in fact she had been beaten by him on several occasions which was why she was at his house that day.
Thomas Lechmere was remanded in custody, surprisingly admitting that it was all true.
Thomas Lechmere in trouble again
In 1876, Thomas was once again in trouble (incredibly he was still a Magistrate), and was fined for being drunk and incapable whilst in charge of a horse and trap in Ethelbert Street, Hereford. The case had been held back for a few days, as Thomas was too ill to attend, and when it was finally heard, he pleaded guilty and not only paid the fine, but also put money into the poor box.
This then was a man who was possibly an alcoholic, or prone to excessive drinking when he became violent and unreasonable but then when sober, genuinely regretted his actions.
Throughout the marriage, and despite Thomas’s treatment of her, Elizabeth went on to have a prodigious amount of children.
1861 – Fownhope Court Household
|Thomas Lechmere||42||Justice of the Peace||b. Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Lechmere||37||Wife||b. Credenhill, Herefordshire|
|Mary Jane Lechmere||11||Daughter||b. Fownhope, Herefordshire|
|John Scudamore Lechmere||10||Son||b. Herefordshire|
|Edmund Lechmere||9||Son||b. Brecon|
|Elizabeth Lechmere||4||Daughter||b. Credenhill, Herefordshire|
|Arthur Lechmere||3||Son||b. Herefordshire|
|Annie Maria Lechmere||2||Daughter||b. Credenhill, Herefordshire|
|Sarah Johnston||57||Cook||b. Herefordshire|
|Jane Yeoman||39||Nurse||b. Herefordshire|
|Thomas Badham||27||General Servant||b. Herefordshire|
|Fanny Lewis||18||General Servant||b. Herefordshire|
|May Jane Griffith||16||General Servant||b. Herefordshire|
1871 – Fownhope Court Household
|Thomas Lechmere||52||JP and landowner||b. city of Hereford|
|Elizabeth Lechmere||48||Wife||b. Credenhill, Herefordshire|
|Mary Jane Lechmere||21||Daughter||b. Fownhope, Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Lechmere||14||Daughter||b. Credenhill, Herefordshire|
|Ann Maria Lechmere||12||Daughter||b. Credenhill, Herefordshire|
|Edith Lechmere||9||Daughter||b. Fownhope, Herefordshire|
|Arthur Lechmere||13||Son||b. Credenhill, Herefordshire|
|Robert H. Lechmere||6||Son||b. Fownhope, Herefordshire|
|John Fordman||65||Groom||b. Fownhope, Herefordshire|
|Jane Robins||26||Cook||b. Herefordshire|
|Ann Hodges||14||Housemaid||b. Fownhope, Herefordshire|
|Mary Ann Smith||15||Housemaid||b. Woolhope, Herefordshire|
1881 – Fownhope Court Household
|Thomas Lechmere||62||Widower, JP for Herefordshire||b. Hereford|
|Arthur Lechmere||23||Son, Farmer and gentleman||b. Credenhill, Herefordshire|
|Mary Jane Lechmere||30||Daughter||b. Fownhope, Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Lechmere||24||Daughter||b. Credenhill, Herefordshire|
|Annie M. Lechmere||22||Daughter||b. Credenhill, Herefordshire|
|Edith B. Lechmere||34||Daughter||b. Fownhope, Herefordshire|
|Jane Dawes||34||Cook||b. Worcestershire|
|Emma A. Carver||25||Housemaid||b. Hereford|
|Louisa Stone||17||Housemaid||b. Woolhope, Herefordshire|
|Henry Izzard||19||General Servant||b. Lugwardine, Herefordshire|
Hans Hamilton Howard Brooke
Hans Hamilton Howard Brooke, born 1st April 1849 at Castle Howard was the son of R. Howard Brooke and had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy. He died at Fownhope Court on 16th June 1890
Colonel Sir Robert Bridgford
Colonel Sir Robert Bridgford KCV owned Fownhope Court in the early 1900s; he was born in 1836 and was active in his father’s business in Manchester – Messrs. J.T. Bridgford and Sons, land agents etc. He was heavily involved with the Volunteer movement, for which he gained due recognition – for over thirty four years he was in command of the battalion, and the War Office repeatedly extended his term of service.
Sir Robert contracted a serious illness in 1901 after working himself into the ground, and knew that he would not be able to continue as head of the battalion for much longer
He was created a Companion of the Bath in 1885, and received a knighthood in the year of the Coronation.
His interest in Herefordshire included being the agent for the Brockhampton Estate, and he owned the Upper Newton estate at Kinnersley. He also bred pedigree Hereford cattle; was a JP for both Lancashire and Herefordshire, and was Deputy Lieutenant of Herefordshire.
He died in May 1905 after a long illness initially contracted in Africa whilst training the Imperial Yeomanry.
The Rev Walter Spencer lived at Fownhope Court for many years; he was the father of Lady Greenwood wife of Sir Hamar Greenwood, Chief Secretary for Ireland. He was a virtual recluse, taking his pleasure from a glorious collection of old china and wood carvings and hee himself was a talented wood carver.
At the end of his life he was very ill, confined to his bed for three years before he died of heart disease
1911 – Fownhope Court Household
|Walter Spencer||61||b. Lancaster|
|Geoffrey Francis Spencer||16||Son||b. Codicote, Hertfordshire|
|Olive Annette Spencer||11||Daughter||b. Codicote, Hertfordshire|
|Frances Beechey||67||Sister||b. Lancaster|
|Elizabeth Lewis||45||Cook||b. Abbeydore, Herefordshire|
|Harriet Stephens||33||House and Parlourmaid||b. Brecon, Wales|
|Ellen Mary Jeeves||22||Housemaid||b. Hertfordshire|