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.




garnstone 2









Garnstone Castle

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.


 Royal Grants


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
Sarah 68 Housekeeper b. Wiltshire
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
Richard 23 Groom b. Middlesex
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


October 1899

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.

William Henry Verdin b. Northwich, Cheshire 1849 Landowner, Own Account
Emily Jane Verdin b. Liverpool, Lancashire 1854 Wife, Home Duties
Emily Gwendoline Verdin b. Winsford, Cheshire 1881 Daughter
Isabella Allen b. Hutton, Berwickshire, Scotland 1882 Cook
Florence Anne Pugh b. Bilston, Staffordshire 1889 Lady’s Maid
Catherine Roberts b. Denbighshire 1875 Laundry Maid
Nora Walker b. Leicestershire 1893 Housemaid
Violet Florence Hill b. Gloucestershire 1898 Housemaid
Rose Hewins b. Glamorganshire, Wales 1904 Housemaid
Hannah Dower b. Mountain Ash, Glamorganshire, Wales 1904 Kitchenmaid
Ada Parsons b. Herefordshire 1905 Scullerymaid
Harold Cadwallader b. Jackfield, Shropshire 1905 Footman
Cyril Palmer b. Whitchurch, Shropshire 1907 Hall Boy