Background – before Garnstone Castle was built.
In the mid 16th century the Garnstone estate was granted to trustees by James Tomkyns for his own use along with his wife Margery, and his descendants remained there until 1661. At this time it became part of the settlement made upon Anne Tomkyns on her marriage to Roger Vaughan, and it was sold to Colonel Birch, a successful officer in Cromwell’s army.
Colonel Birch was originally a pack horse driver, travelling and trading his own goods, and he was so successful at defending these goods from Parliamentarians that he was noticed by Cromwell. Cromwell was so impressed that he offered Birch a commission in his troop, and in 1645 Colonel Birch managed to capture Hereford which pleased Parliament no end. He later became MP for Leominster and later Weobley until 1691 when he died.
Samuel Peploe (1)
Samuel Peploe was educated at Oxford University and was ordained a priest in 1692; becoming Vicar of Preston, Lancashire in 1700. He had a hatred of the Jacobites, which was further fuelled by the damage that they did to his property and his loyalty to the government eventually ensured his nomation to Bishop of Chester in 1725. When he died in 1752 his son John succeeded him as warden of Manchester and inherited the Garnstone estate.
John Peploe Birch b. 1742 – 1805
Married Anne Clowes b. 1743, a girl who was not without her own means. John’s father Samuel (above) had left Garnstone estate to him in trust, to be inherited at the age of 21 provided that John adopted the surname Birch. This he did, keeping Peploe as his middle name.
This couple never appeared to live at Garnstone, preferring to live in Barnstone or London despite the fact that John was appointed High Sheriff of Herefordshire. However John left Garnstone Estate to Anne who lived for several more years, and both of them were buried at Weobley.
John and Anne’s son, Samuel, inherited the Garnstone Estate.
Designed by John Nash and built in 1807 for Samuel Peploe, Garnstone Castle was an extremely large and rather beautiful building with its Gothic towers, battlements and stunning views which was constructed to impress rather than for defence purposes. ( Eastnor Castle was another example of this.) Materials were sourced from the estate, and bricks were made locally – green sandstone was used for the seven inch courses, but eventually this was proved to be a mistake as it was too soft and it needed replacing in later years. There were other flaws in the design, including the use of lead for the vast flat roof…….this leaked dreadfully especially after heavy snowfall, necessitating much manpower and many hours to clear the snow from the roof, using specially designed shovels.
All the floors were made of oak from the grounds, and oak was also used for the doors …… no expense was spared on the interior; however, the cost of coal to heat this vast building was enormous and over the years the drain on the family’s finances must have been considerable.
The mansion stood on a gentle slope with magnificent views in all directions. On the south side of the house was a beautiful flower garden with numerous roses and herbaceous plants, bordered by an iron railing beyond which was the deer park and rookery. This was said to be one of the finest parks in England, and there was a herd of some 200 Black deer – not a breed as such but a variant in the same way that white deer can sometimes occur in herds, and very rare.
In the grounds were magnificent cedars, ancient oaks and elms, and there was a splendid avenue of 22 Wellingtonias bordering the drive up to the Castle.
There was an extensive kitchen garden, which although positioned well with regard to the house was north facing and therefore not altogether productive. There were however many good fruit trees, as well as two vineries; one peach house and a fig house.
There were 17 farms all with good tenants with the rental amounting to around £7,300 a year.
Samuel Peploe (2)
Born in 1774 in Lancashire, Samuel married Katherine Frances, daughter of Sir George Cornewall, 2nd Bart. Of Moccas Court, Herefordshire
Samuel was educated at Eton, and took a great interest in music and the arts; later he took the trouble to learn both French and Italian and was fluent in these languages – he was a most charming and considerate man, never talking down to those in lower walks of life yet comfortable in the company of high society. He was a philanthropist, donating large sums of money to local causes and took a keen interest in the Weobley school for the poor, as an example – he provided a sumptuous dinner of roast beef and plum pudding along with good cider for the children when they had finished their exams.
He was described as one of the County’s most distinguished gentleman, who as a Magistrate showed great wisdom which was always guided by justice; he was an eminent agriculturist and had a fine flock of sheep including Ryelands, Leicester and Southdowns. In 1841 he was elected Governor of the Royal Agricultural Society of England. Samuel also became Lord Lieutenant 1840
Samuel was a liberal and enlightened landlord, earning himself great respect and love from friends and tenants alike.
Samuel Peploe died in April 1845 and although he had been ill for some time it was sudden and unexpected, indeed in 1844 it was reported that his health was much improved and there were hopes of a good recovery.
Copied from the Gazette on 23rd May
The Queen has been pleased to grant unto Daniel Peploe Webb of Garnstone in the county of Hereford, eldest son and heir of Daniel Webb of Audley Square in the county of Middlesex, deceased, her Royal licence and authority that he and his issue may (in compliance with a direction in the last will and testament of the said Samuel Peploe) henceforth take and use the surname of Peploe only, instead of that of Webb, and bear the arms of Peploe quarterly, in the first quarter, with those of his own family; such arms being first duly exemplified according to the laws of arms, and recorded in the Heralds’ Office, otherwise the said licence and permission to be void and of none effect”.
Copied from The Edinburgh Gazette, 20th July
The Queen has been pleased to give and grant unto John Birch Webb, Clerk, Vicar of Weobley, in the county of Hereford, and of Garnstone, in the said county, second but eldest surviving son and heir of Daniel Webb, of Audley Square, in the county of Middlesex, Esquire, deceased, by Anne, his Wife, Sister of Samuel Peploe, of Garnstone aforesaid, Esquire, deceased, Her Royal licence and authority that he and his issue may (in. compliance with A proviso contained in the last will and testament of the said Samuel Peploe,)- henceforth take and use the surname of Peploe” only, instead of that of Webb, and bear the arms of Peploe quarterly, in the first quarter, with those of his own family; such arms being first duly exemplified according to the laws of arms, and recorded in the College of Arms, otherwise the said licence to be void and of none effect: And also to command that the said Royal concession and declaration be recorded in Her Majesty’s College of Arms.
Daniel Peploe Peploe
Daniel Peploe Peploe was appointed High Sheriff of Herefordshire in 1846 at a Court held in Buckingham Palace and he then arrived for the Lent Assizes in an elegant carriage drawn by four superb horses, and escorted by many representatives of the principal families in Herefordshire; the Garnstone tenantry; the most respectable citizens and numerous attendants which formed a cavalcade of vehicles and horsemen not seen since the revered Thomas Andrew Knight of Downton Castle filled the office of High Sheriff.
1851 Garnstone Castle Household
|Daniel P. Peploe||57||Half pay Officer, unattached; Magistrate||b. Middlesex|
|Thomas Humphries||35||Butler||b. Rugely, Staffordshire|
|James Cox||26||Under Butler||b. Hereford|
|William Gibbs||26||Footman||b. Wiltshire|
|William Hemmings||36||Coachman||b. Warwickshire|
|William Winney (?)||25||Groom||b. Eardisland, Herefordshire|
|John Thomas||26||Helper in stables||b. Madley, Herefordshire|
|Frances Fennell||50||Housekeeper||b. Middlesex|
|Augusta L. Watts||31||Cook||b. Marylebone, Middlesex|
|Mary Owens||29||Laundry Maid||b. Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Howells||35||Upper House Maid||b. Peterchurch, Herefordshire|
|Margaret Jones||24||Kitchen Maid||b. Middlesex|
|Sarah Fennell||31||Upper Stillroom Maid||b. Gloucestershire|
|Eliza Bamfield||21||Under Stillroom Maid||b. Kentchurch, Herefordshire|
|Ann Grubb||24||Under House Maid||b. Monkland, Herefordshire|
|Ann Harris||20||Scullery Maid||b. Much Dewchurch, Herefordshire|
1861 Garnstone Castle Household
|Daniel P. Peploe||58||Gentleman and Deputy Lieutenant||b. Dudley Square, London|
|Thomas Humphries||44||Butler||b. Church Stretton, Salop|
|William Gibbs||37||Upper Footman||b. Wiltshire|
|Daniel Hill||24||Under Butler||b. St. Nicholas, Hereford|
|Thomas Lee||30||Coachman||b. Sittingbourne, Kent|
|Frederick Osborne||20||Groom||b. St. Georges, Kent|
|Isaac Staggs||22||Helper in stables||b. Hollingsbury, Kent|
|Andrew Hathaway||15||Boy in stables||b. Ludlow, Salop|
|Augusta L. Watts||40||Cook||b. Marylebone, London|
|Charlotte Jones||36||Stillroom Maid||b. Holyhead, North Wales|
|Mary Harris||25||Laundry Maid||b. Dilwyn, Herefordshire|
|Harriett A. Hill||39||Housemaid||b. Lambeth, London|
|Mary Webster||26||Under Housemaid||b. Staffordshire|
|Jane Price||21||Under Housemaid||b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Ann Harris||30||Kitchen Maid||b. Much Dewchurch, Herefordshire|
|Caroline Greaving||21||Scullery Maid||b. Hadley, Suffolk|
Daniel Peploe Peploe (2)
Born in 1829 to the Reverend John Birch Peploe and Annie Molyneaux, the second Daniel Peploe was educated at Rugby and then Trinity College.
He married Eliza Theophilia Debonnaire in Ludlow, Shropshire – he was a Major in the 4th Dragoon Guards and served in the Crimea War.
Daniel was also a J.P. and was an MP for Hereford between 1874 and 1889
He died 4th November 1887 in Florence, Italy, his will being proved by his wife Eliza and Daniel Henry Theophilus Peploe, his son, who were the executors. The estate amounted to £25,619 16s 6d.
1871 Garnstone Castle Household
|Daniel P. Peploe||42||Landowner||b. Weobley, Herefordshire|
|Eliza D. Peploe||34||Wife||b. East Indies|
|Daniel H. T. Peploe||9||Son||b. Lyonshall, Herefordshire|
|Fitzgerald C Peploe||8||Son||b. Lyonshall, Herefordshire|
|Evelyn Peploe||5||Daughter||b. Holmer, Herefordshire|
|Marie Meyer||30||Governess||b. Switzerland|
|Elise Huber||18||Nurse||b. Switzerland|
|Jeannie||36||Ladies Maid||b. Switzerland|
|David Green||33||Butler||b. Poland|
|Charles Taylor||25||Under Butler||b. Berkshire|
|Welbaine Abbey||25||Footman||b. Middlesex|
|William Mather||20||Page||b. Knighton, Herefordshire|
|Samuel Purdy||43||Coachman||b. Norfolk|
|Francis Hart||25||Stableman||b. Bedfordshire|
|Thomas Davis||24||Stableman||b. Lyonshall, Herefordshire|
|William Miles||29||Stableman||b. Hereford|
|Margaret Rilbrick||64||Housekeeper||b. Bolton, Lancashire|
|Mary Holiday||55||Housemaid||b. Haverfordwest, Pembroke|
|Rosanna Bishop||21||Housemaid||b. Bristow, Herefordshire|
|Emily Malpas||20||Housemaid||b. Ross on Wye, Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Gibbs||24||Laundry Maid||b. Hereford|
|Harriett Rogers||18||Under Laundry Maid||b. Sarnesfield, Herefordshire|
|Harriett Howell||34||Cook||b. Suffolk|
|Sarah Jeannie||24||Kitchen Maid||b. Little Chesterfield|
|Mary Hodges||26||Still room Maid||b. Bodenham, Herefordshire|
|Emily Pugh||20||Scullery Maid||b. Kinnersley, Herefordshire|
|Thomas Carpenter||Baker||b. Hereford|
|Annie M Perdy||45||Dressmaker||b. Berkshire|
Fitzgerald Cornwall Peploe
Daniel Peploe’s son, Fitzgerald Cornwall Peploe was born 3rd September 1862, and shunning the British Army to the disgust of his father he travelled to Canada to learn about farming. His heart however was not in it, and finally he followed his dream and his talent to study sculpture in Florence, then Paris and Rome. He became an extremely accomplished sculptor, and settled in New York where he produced some outstanding works including a bust of Lady Randolph Churchill.
He never married, and rumour has it that he was a little over fond of the drink – then again what great artist didn’t have their vices.
He died aged just 45 of heart disease and was buried at the Kensico Cemetery, New York.
The following two census returns showed the castle being manned by a skeleton staff.
1881 Garnstone Castle Household
|Mary A. Lane||29||Housekeeper||b. Glamorganshire|
|Mary Price||26||Laundry Maid||b. Canon Pyon, Herefordshire|
|Eliza Williams||21||Laundry Maid||b. Kings Pyon, Herefordshire|
|Alice Walker||20||Housemaid||b. Hereford|
1891 Garnstone Castle Household
|Mark Biggs||40||Gardener||b. Middlesex|
|Catherine Biggs||39||Wife||b. Norfolk|
|Gilbert Biggs||12||Son||b. Weobley, Herefordshire|
|Alice Mary Biggs||11||Daughter||b. Weobley, Herefordshire|
|Ernest Richard Biggs||9||Son||b. Weobley, Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Sarah Bounds||16||Domestic Servant||b. Norton Canon, Herefordshire|
1901 Garnstone Castle Household
|Sir Joseph Verdin||63||Living on own means||b. Northwich, Cheshire|
|Mary Verdin||67||Sister||b. Northwich, Cheshire|
|J.M. Crighton Browne||35||Niece||b. Lanes, Liverpool|
|Gladys M. Crighton Browne||5||Great Niece||b. Regents Park, London|
|Cecil H.V. Crighton Browne||4||Nephew||b. Sloane Street, London|
|Maria Middleton||34||Cook||b. Derbyshire|
|Mary Williams||28||Ladies Maid||b. Anglesey|
|Sara Ann Howman||35||Ladies Maid||b. Albrighton, Salop|
|Louisa Howard||22||Kitchen Maid||b. Wakefield, Yorkshire|
|Mary Davies||32||Head Housemaid||b. Knighton, Radnorshire|
|Nellie Skinner||21||Housemaid||b. Wolverton, Buckinghamshire|
|Cecilia Jones||29||Laundry Maid||b. Vauxhall Walk, London|
|Emily Davidson||18||Laundry Maid||b. Stokesay, Salop|
|Shaly Wilson||21||Housemaid||b. Kidderminster, Worcestershire|
|Ann Higgins||18||Housemaid||b. Salop|
|Mary Ann Jones||19||Scullery Maid||b. Bewdley, Worcestershire|
|Hannah Gould||17||Nursery Maid||b. Salop|
|John Wilson||25||1st Footman||b. Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire|
|Chas Taylor||18||2nd Footman||b. Belper, Derbyshire|
|Henry Harrison||25||2nd Coachman||b. Salop|
|Geo. Downes||24||Groom||b. Cheshire|
|Arthur Lewis||17||Groom||b. Bromyard, Herefordshire|
The whole of the Garnstone Castle estate was sold for £150,000 to Joseph Verdin
Sir Joseph Verdin at Garnstone Castle.
Born on 4th January 1838 in Northwich, Chestire, Joseph Verdin was a JP and Deputy Lieutenant for Cheshire, becoming a Baronet in 1896 and knighted in 1897.
Joseph Verdin & Sons Salt Business
Along with his brothers, Joseph was involved in the extensive family salt business; there were six salt plants employing a very large workforce and they were the largest salt manufacturers in Great Britain. The brothers became very wealthy, and used some of their riches to help the local community, including educational facilities for their own workforce, and various infirmaries. Things went well in the 1880s, but problems began to arise with subsidence in areas surrounding the brine pumps, and although Sir Joseph set up a trust to help compensate those affected by the subsidence, an Act in 1891 which provided compensation for property owners made the Trust pointless so he used the money to help various schools and hospitals etc. Eventually the salt business was ruined by the formation of the Salt Union in 1888 and in the end, still a bachelor, he and his sister Mary moved to Garnstone Castle in 1900 where he became JP for Herefordshire and then High Sheriff in 1903.
Sir Joseph became a very popular country squire, sparing no expense in keeping up the estate and household and was something of a philanthropist. A regular visitor to Garnstone Castle was Norman Verdin, the eldest son or Sir Joseph’s brother; himself a JP for the county of Cheshire and Captain in the Cheshire Yeomanry, and heir to the childless Sir Joseph.
Soldiers Returning from the War are Entertained at Garnstone Castle
On 18th September the grounds of Garnstone Castle were opened to the ex service men of the Weobley district, first and foremost to welcome the demobilised men but also the residents from surrounding villages. The band of the Hereford Working Boys Home played gamely throughout the afternoon, and there was much varied entertainment as well as organised races.
Afterwards a good meat tea was served in a large marquee, including beef; roast mutton; hams; tongues etc. and glorious puddings, which was followed by dancing.
Sir Joseph replying to a speech of gratitude said that he had no wish to be thanked as he had only done what was his duty – to welcome home the men who had fought for the country.
He remained at the Castle until his death in December 1920, his sister Mary having died in 1903.
1911 Garnstone Castle Household
|Joseph Verdin||73||Private Means||b. Northwich, Cheshire|
|John Joseph Verdin Cooke||42||Nephew, Salt Proprietor||b. Crewe, Cheshire|
|Maria Middleton||45||Housekeeper, Cook||b. Staveley, Yorkshire|
|Ellen Wildman||33||Head Housemaid||b. Staffordshire|
|Louisa Wyatt||24||Second Housemaid||b. Hansford, Staffordshire|
|Sarah Ann Colley||20||Third Housemaid||b. Weobley, Herefordshire|
|Mary Louie Johnson||17||Fourth Housemaid||b. Northwich, Cheshire|
|Minnie Grace Baker||27||Head Laundry Maid|
|Florence May Butter||20||Second Laundry Miad||b. Kynaston, Herefordshire|
|Margaret Florence Lynne||21||Kitchen Maid||b. Exelby|
|Louisa Bertha Webster||19||Scullery Miad|
|Samuel Cork||31||Butler||b. Hanley, Staffordshire|
|Henry Woof||20||First Footman||b. Lancashire|
|Egbert Thomas Arnold||20||Second Footman||b. Derby|
|William George Gittings||14||Hall Boy||b. Herefordshire|
Richard Norman Harrison Verdin
In 1909 Richard Norman Harrison Verdin, educated at Harrow and Magdalen College Oxford, married Miss Alison Macfie Barbour of Bolesworth Castle near Chester, an event which the inhabitants of Weobley were keenly interested in, given that the pair would eventually take ownership of Garnstone Castle.
Indeed Richard (known as Norman) proved to be as kind and philanthropic as his Uncle when he moved to Garnstone in 1931, and he became Chairman of the Weobley Parish Council and Chairman of the Managers of Weobley School. He was also a President of the Three Counties Agricultural Show and sat on the boards of many local interests – maintaining interest in all activities until he died.
He was survived by his wife, three sons and one daughter when he died on October 22nd 1956 aged 79, but left unsettled estate of £137,322 0s 2d. The settled land grant however, had already been issued to Lt. Col Richard B. Verdin retired, of Nantwich, Cheshire.
One year after probate was granted on the estate one final lavish ball was held before Garnstone Castle was demolished, perhaps because it was just too expensive to keep going.