Moccas Court was built in the early eighteenth century, and is a very fine, very large brick built mansion. Over the centuries, the Cornewall family retained ownership, but now it has gone the way of so many country houses that are so expensive to maintain and it is used variously as a wedding location; B & B, and party venue.
Sir George Cornewall 3rd Baronet
Sir George Cornewall, was born in 1774 being the son of Sir George Cornewall, 2nd Baronet and gained the rank of Colonel in the Herefordshire Militia.
In 1797, Sir George Cornewall resided at Moccas Court, and there was a wonderful occasion when his Troop of Yeomanry had a grand field day at the Court. It was reported that Lady Cornewall “came upon the ground, and, in the presence of a vast concourse of people, presented the Troop with a standard, which she delivered to the Commanding Officer with an elegant and concise address. The ceremony of consecration being performed by the Rev. Mr. Lewis of Dorstone, who delivered a solemn exhortation upon the occasion. Sir George presented the standard to Cornet Parry, at the same time addressing the Corps in an appropriate speech, which was received with loud and repeated huzzas. The Troop then went through their evolutions and firings, with a degree of steadiness highly creditable, and afterwards marched to Moccas Court where they dined with their Commander. Lady Cornewall did them the honour of presiding at the head of the table.”
At the age of 71, Sir George contracted a painful illness, and after five weeks of suffering, died in 1819. He was described as being hugely respected in Herefordshire, both for his public services and private virtues.
In 1835 the youngest daughter died.
1836 Sir George Cornewall, Baronet died, and was noted among his friends for his musical taste – he is succeeded in his title and estates by his eldest son, Sir Velters Cornewall, a minor.
Tragic death of Mary Jane Cornewall
1839 Miss Mary Jane Cornewall, the second daughter of the late Sir George was amusing herself with her brothers in a boat on the River Wye when she overbalanced and fell in the water. She was only beneath the surface for a short while, but when dragged out was lifeless and all efforts to make her breathe proved ineffectual. She was just 17.
Sir Velters Cornewall, Baronet
Born in 1824, Sir Velters Cornewall, Baronet, came of age in 1845 and the birthday celebrations were pretty impressive to say the least as he took possession of the Moccas Court Estates.
Sir Velters Cornewall comes of age
The tenants on these estates were keen to show support and esteem for the Cornewall family in general and Sir Velters in particular, and a whacking great ox, weighing 20 stone per quarter, and raised by one of the oldest tenants – Mr. Hadley of Weston in Bredwardine – was purchased and slaughtered ready to be roasted whole on the day of Sir Velters’ birthday.
The day before his birthday, the ox was decorated with ribbons and flowers, and its horns were gilded, then it was mounted on a cart. Preceded by a marching band with flags and streamers, and banners proclaiming “Long Life to Sir Velters”; “May he tread in the steps of his Forefathers”; “Prosperity to the House of Moccas” and amusingly “No Tax on Cider”, the ox was drawn by Mr. Hadley’s team of four bay horses through Bredwardine, and across the park to the mansion where the Cornewall family and friends were waiting. Lots of cheering ensued, before the ox went on to the massive fireplace built specially for the occasion, with the band playing “The roast beef of old England”. At about 1 o’clock the ox went on the spit, and once it was turning three huge cheers rang out before the procession dispersed to enjoy some prime old stingo, brewed for the occasion; the fire beneath the ox was kept going throughout the night
Next day, the church bells from all the surrounding villages started ringing out and before long the villagers were seen wending their way across the park to the ox roast, “thicker and faster” as midday approached. Hogsheads of cider, the gift of the tenantry, were sent for the labourers of Peterchurch, Dorstone ,Bredwardine, Monnington and Staunton on Wye. Everyone assembled in front of Moccas Court at 11 o’clock, and were shortly joined by the birthday boy, Sir Velters and his much esteemed mother, Lady Cornewall plus a great number of their friends and family. Their appearance caused a huge cheer which echoed all around, before a procession formed which preceded by a band moved to the area set aside for rural sports.
There was an enormous crowd by this time, and whilst they all waited for the ox to be carved the sports started with youths swarming over a greasy pole in the hope of winning a new hat; there were races by the boys for hats; and by the girls for new gown pieces; by men with wheelbarrows for smock frocks, jumping sacks, catching a greased pig by the tail and many other sports.
Later, the tenantry and visitors, numbering around 60, had a huge dinner in Moccas Court dining room, after which there were many, many, many speeches!! One can imagine at this point that perhaps more fun was being had outside in the park by the villagers.
Once he had sobered up, Sir Velters Cornewall set off on a continental tour.
Sudden death at Moccas Court
In 1851, Henry Hughes an under groom of T.W.C. Master who resided with Sir Velters Cornewall at Moccas Court, died suddenly. He was 18 and had been working for Mr. Master for over three years, but was known to have heart disease and periodic fits. One day, whilst taking Mr. Master across the River Wye he collapsed “as if he had been shot”, and although at first it was thought that he was having a fit it turned out that he was quite dead. It was believed to have been his heart that gave out.
Death of Sir Velters Cornewall’s brother
In 1862 Lieutenant Cornewall, younger brother of Sir Velters Cornewall, and an officer who was well loved by the men under him for his unfailing kindness, and respected by his fellow officers, was killed by a single shot fired from a house during the capture of Ning-po from the Taepings in China.
Sir Velters Cornewall and the Herefordshire Hunt
Every year, “puppy walkers” for the Hereford Hunt were given a slap up dinner by the joint Masters, Sir Velters and John Hungerford Arkwright. Sir Velters was clearly a keen huntsman but as will be seen, he was perhaps not the most respected of Masters!
First however, there is an accident to report in 1862, when Sir Velters Cornewall was leaving Hereford with Miss Cornewall and some friends on their way back to Moccas Court. It was a foggy night, but the coachman preferred to rely on his eyes rather than lamps, and let his horses bowl along at a cracking pace. Suddenly they met a cart belonging to Messrs James and Son, and the collision was quite spectacular, resulting in the total demolition of the carriage, and the breaking away of the cart from the shafts. The poor driver of the cart was thrown to the side of the track whilst his horse took off towards Hereford dragging the shafts behind it. Sadly, one of Sir Velters’ horses broke its leg, but the party although violently shaken, were not badly hurt.
In 1867, Sir Velters assumed sole mastership of the Herefordshire Hounds but he failed miserably and the pack of hounds was put up for sale. It appears that he was less than popular in the hunting field, and had very little support; and indeed that he conducted himself in something less than the manner that might be expected from one of his standing, AND a Master of hounds. However, once he retired from mastership, the Herefordshire Hunt once again thrived and the papers were less than kind to him with the unfortunate result that Sir Velters reacted to the negative feelings about his dealings with the Hunt by entering into correspondence which was said to make him a laughing stock.
Here is the letter:
“Sir, I don’t take in the Hereford Journal,but some kind friend sent it me this week, and after searching about for his reason, I at last found that I was the subject of some very polished and truthful remarks in the editorial column, that I was held up as the great obstacle to hunting in Herefordshire,and now that I was gone there might be some chance if its being carried on in a gentlemanly way.
If the Editor of the Journal could think that a low scurrilous article like his could have any effect upon the feelings of a gentleman, he must mix very little with that class. I have such perfect confidence in the good feelings of all classes in my county towards me, as not to say a word in my defence.
The Editor was not impressed, and wrote that “the public appearances of Sir V. Cornewall would not have led us to suppose that he would have ventured to constitute himself a censor of gentlemanly qualities. None but gentlemen know the feelings of a gentleman,and,not again to allude to the bearing of Sir V. Cornewall in the hunting field,we should have supposed that apart from this, the rememberance of a very recent performance of his when at a public dinner he “spit out” his words at a highly esteemed county gentleman, and which words he had immediately to retract, would have caused him to be a little cautious in alluding to the feelings of a gentleman. As to the epithets which Sir V. Cornewall applied to us, they are evidently the product of an excited frame of mind, and the public are the best judges as to how far they are deserved. We therefore pass them by without further notice, and will only add that so long as Sir. V. Cornewall holds no better position in popular estimation than he does at present, what his opinion of ourselves may be is to us a matter of supreme indifference.”
It seems that no matter how well respected a person might have been in other aspects of life, to disport oneself badly on the hunting field, especially when Master, is unforgiveable, for it was not only the press that gave him a hard time.
Death of Sir Velters Cornewall, Baronet
In 1868, Sir Velters died aged just 44 having never married. Perhaps there is a clue above as to his nature, and maybe no prospective bride was willing to take him on!
He was succeeded in the Baronetcy by his brother, the Rev. George Henry Cornewall.
George Henry Cornewall
George Henry Cornewall was born in 1833 and was educated at Rugby, then at Trinity College Cambridge, where he took his B.A. Degree in 1855
Baths at Moccas Court
In 1926, a lovely piece appeared in the Manchester Guardian:
“The number of rich people known to the Marquis of Northampton who are never clean might have been considerably greater had he lived three quarters of a century ago. Mrs. Janet Rose in her reminiscences of early Victorian days, tells how horrified the good people of Herefordshire were when it became known that the two Miss Cornewalls of Moccas Court took baths. “”But, my dear”” protested a very proper dowager to one of the young ladies, “”I suppose you have to take off all your clothes – how shocking””.
Some of the following census records show what appears to be an inordinate number of servants at Moccas Court, but there were many visitors who each took a number of their own servants with them. Goodness knows where they all slept, there must have been more bedrooms in the servants quarters than in the main house.
Moccas Court Household and servants 1851 census
|Velters Cornewall||27||Baronet, Magistrate, b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Jane Cornewall||59||Mother b. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire|
|Frances Ann Cornewall||24||Sister b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Henrietta Cornewall||22||Sister b.Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Thomas William Charlton Master||35||Brother in Law, Magistrate for Gloucester, b. London|
|Catherine Elizabeth Cheston Master||30||Sister b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Alice Mary Jane Master||8||Niece b. London|
|Isabel Catherine Master||6||Niece b.Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Barton Philip Chester Master||4||Nephew b. Cirencester, Gloucestershire|
|Harriett Whalley||53||Visitor b. Upper Slaughter, Gloucestershire|
|Emma Lucy Parker||27||Visitor, Governess, b. St. James, London|
|Elizabeth Emma Blackwell||40||Widow, visitor b. Warwick|
|Harriet Powell||34||Housekeeper b. Bredwardine, Herefordshire|
|Sarah Owen||30||Lady’s Maid b. St. Peters, Hereford|
|Ellen Jones||33||Lady’s Maid b. St. Nicholas, Herefordshire|
|Anne Bucket||22||Lady’s Maid b. Oxford|
|Mary Morris||35||Cook b. Suffolk|
|Mary Thomas||33||Nurse b. Burghill, Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Bailey||27||Laundress b. Holme Lacy, Herefordshire|
|Margaret Montgomery||38||Housemaid, b ?|
|Elizabeth Pearce||36||Kitchenmaid b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Mary Thomas||21||Housemaid b. Lugwardine, Herefordshire|
|Charlotte Price||26||Housemaid b. Radnor|
|Elisabeth Skyrme||21||Kitchenmaid b. Herefordshire|
|William Morris||25||Butler b. Pencombe, Herefordshire|
|William Pearce||29||Under Butler b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Edwin Hutchins||24||Footman b. Hants|
|Samuel Parry||31||Groom b. Charlton Kings, Gloucester|
|Robert Ollif||34||Groom b. Hemel Hempstead|
|William Meen||15||Groom b. London|
|John Jackson||12||Houseboy b. Worcester|
|George Waterman||23||Groom b. Worcester|
|Henry Hughes||19||Groom b. Almondsbury, Gloucestershire|
|Emily Weller||21||Nursery Maid b. Hollington, Sussex|
|Maria Wingson||30||Lady’s Maid b. Buckinghamshire|
Moccas Court household and staff 1861 census
|Velters Cornewall||37||Baronet, landed proprietor and Magistrate b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|George Henry Cornewall||27||Brother, Rector of Moccas, b.Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Frances Anne Cornewall||34||Sister b.Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Thomas William Charlton Master||45||Brother in Law, Visitor, Magistrate b.Middlesex|
|Catherine E. Charlton Master||40||Sister, Visitor b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Thomas William Charlton Master||19||Visitor, Nephew, Oxford Undergraduate b.Marylebone, Middlesex|
|Alice Mary Jane Master||18||Niece, Visitor b. St George’s Middlesex|
|Isabel C.Master||16||Niece, Visitor b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Charles G. Cheston Master||9||Nephew, Visitor b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Arthur C. Cheston Master||6||Nephew, Visitor b. Cirencester, Gloucestershire|
|Harriet Whalley||63||Visitor b. Upper Slaughter, Gloucestershire|
|Anne Louise Dayon||28||Governess b. Switzerland|
|Harriet Powell||49||Housekeeper b. Bredwardine, Herefordshire|
|Eliza Dymmock||30||Lady’s Maid b. Tarrington, Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Blunt||33||Cook b. Hertfordshire|
|Elizabeth Bailey||37||Laundry Maid b. Holme Lacy, Herefordshire|
|Margaret Montgomery||47||Housemaid b. Scotland|
|Emma Probert||27||Kitchenmaid b. Canon Pyon, Herefordshire|
|Sarah Watkins||19||Housemaid b. Madley, Herefordshire|
|Levia Stanton||28||Stillroom Maid b. Kington, Herefordshire|
|Mary Powles||23||Scullery Maid b. Staunton on Wye, Herefordshire|
|Mary Thomas||42||Visitor’s servant, Nurse b. Burgill, Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Russell||41||Visitor’s servant, Lady’s Maid b. Blakemere, Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Dymmock||26||Visitor’s servant, Lady’s Maid b. Stoke Edith, Herefordshire|
|Elizabeth Burrowes||26||Visitor’s servant, Schoolroom Maid, b. Cirencester, Gloucestershire|
|William Monis||45||Butler, b. Pencombe, Herefordshire|
|Henry Dart||28||Footman, b. Devon|
|George A. Stewart||18||Under Butler b. Berkshire|
|Alfred Stacey||20||Groom b. Bridgewater|
|Henry Linton||21||Groom b. Worcestershire|
|Archibald M. Steward||16||Groom b. Chiswick, Middlesex|
|William Kyte||11||Houseboy b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|George Knapp||22||Groom b.Bibury, Gloucestershire|
Moccas Court household and staff 1871 census
|George Henry Cornewall||37||Baronet, Rector of Moccas, b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Louisa Frances Cornewall||38||Wife b. London|
|Geoffrey Cornewall||1||Son b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Amy Cornewall||2||Daughter b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Mary Louisa Cornewall||9 mths||Daughter b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Sarah Morgan Holrozd||35||Visitor b. Calcutta, East Indies|
|Susanna Smith||56||Housekeeper b. Knighton, Radnorshire|
|Mary Hall||30||Cook b. High Gosforth, Northumberland|
|Elizabeth Macke||31||Lady’s Maid b. Falmouth, Cornwall|
|Emily Seek||26||Nurse b. Neward, Nottinghamshire|
|Harriett Evans||17||Nursery Maid b. Kemble, Gloucestershire|
|Mary Ann Edwards||32||Housemaid b. Much Dewchurch, Herefordshire|
|Anne Bosworth||20||Under Housemaid b. All Saints, Hereford|
|Leah Brew||23||Laundry Maid b. Greenwich, Kent|
|Jane Fritts||22||Under Laundry Maid, b. All Saints, Hereford|
|Fanny Evans||20||Kitchenmaid b. Radnorshire|
|Ellen Albert||17||Still Room Maid, b. All Saints, Hereford|
|Sarah Powell||16||Scullery Maid b. Liverpool, Lancashire|
|Stephen Baker||40||Butler b. Balham, Surrey|
|Andrew Hill||25||Footman, b. Shropshire|
|George Davis||22||Usher of Hall b. Holmer, Herefordshire|
|George Wigmore||28||Coachman b. Charlton, Wiltshire|
|Edward Garmon||22||Groom b. Ewyas Harold, Herefordshire|
|William Sevill||15||Stable Boy b. Dymock, Gloucestershire|
Moccas Court household and staff 1881 census
|Rodney Saunders||40||Butler b. Ryde, Isle of Wight|
|Fanny Saunders||37||Wife b. Ryde, Isle of Wight|
|Agnes Saunders||12||Daughter b. Ryde, Isle of Wight|
|Bessie Saunders||9||Daughter b. Wiltshire|
|Catherine Edwards||12||Niece, Visitor b. Bayswater, London|
Moccas Court household and staff 1891 census
|George H. Cornewall||57||Baronet, Rector of Moccas b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Louisa F. Cornewall||58||Wife b. Bloomsbury, London|
|Geoffrey Cornewall||21||Son, Student at Trinity College, Cambridge, b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|William F. Cornewall||19||Son b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Mary L. Cornewall||20||Daughter b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Henrietta Master||62||Sister, Widow, Visitor, b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Walter C. Wright||19||Gentleman, Visitor, Cadet RMC b. New Zealand|
|William Tattenson||28||Butler b. Longton, Lancashire|
|Albert Nash||19||Footman b. Fownhope, Herefordshire|
|H.A. Stephenson||33||Housekeeper & Lady’s Maid b. Gloucestershire|
|Sarah Ashford||28||Cook b. Somerset|
|Elizabeth Wigmore||30||Laundry Maid b. Lechdale, Gloucestershire|
|Louisa Jones||30||Housemaid b. Sollars Hope, Herefordshire|
|Rose Wilding||22||Kitchenmaid b. Herefordshire|
|Sarah A. Garrett||23||Housemaid b. Dorstone, Herefordshire|
|Ellen A. Evans||17||Scullerymaid b. Holmer, Herefordshire|
Moccas Court Household and staff 1901 census
|George Henry Cornewall||67||Clergyman, b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Geoffrey Cornewall||31||Son, Barrister at Law b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Sarah Ann Ashwood||44||Cook b. Wolverhampton|
|Florence Ellen Parker||23||Laundress b. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire|
|Kate Cottle||37||Housemaid b. Westwood, Wiltshire|
|Lucy Amelia Morris||24||Kitchenmaid b. Whitney on Wye, Herefordshire|
|Edith Annie Williams||21||Housemaid b. Monmouthshire|
|Louisa Meath||17||Scullermaid b. Byford, Herefordshire|
|Joshua James Harper||18||Footman b. Leominster, Herefordshire|
Moccas Court Household and staff 1911 census
|Geoffrey Cornewall||41||Unmarried, Baronet b. Moccas Herefordshire|
|Mary Louisa Cornewall||40||Sister, unmarried, b. Moccas, Herefordshire|
|Caroline Lydia Ruxton||48||Visitor b. Ireland|
|Ernest Edward Reed||21||Footman b. Almondsbury, Gloucester|
|Elizabeth Stuart||34||Cook b. Aberdeen, Scotland|
|Edith May Pratt||25||Lady’s Maid b. Devon|
|Clara Moon||32||Laundrymaid b. Aston, Warwickshire|
|Charlotte Lancelot||30||Housemaid b. Glastonbury, Somerset|
|Bertha Mary Ann Jenkins||21||Kitchenmaid b. Norton Canon, Herefordshire|
|Elsie May Lloyd||20||Housemaid b. Gloucestershire|
|Elsie May Walton||14||Scullery Maid b. Moccas, Herefordshire|