Weobley has an absolute wealth of beautiful black and white buildings
At one time there was a castle which is reputed to have been built by the de Lacy family towards the end of the eleventh century, but that fell into ruin and has now totally disappeared, probably due to the fact that villagers helped themselves to the stones in order to build their own houses!
Weobley is home to one of Herefordshire’s biggest and most impressive timber houses – the Ley which was built in 1589.
There was a range of industry in the past, with thriving shops; Weobley found wealth in the wool trade and then became famous for making ale, gloves and nails, although the nail factory burned to the ground in 1943.
Charles 1 visited Weobley in 1645 after the battle of Naseby, staying at The Unicorn which was a coaching house. It was renamed The Throne in honour of the king’s visit, and still stands although it is now a private house. The “new” Unicorn pub, built in the 17th century specialised in home made cider from its own orchard; help with harvesting the apples was rewarded with tokens for spending in the pub!
The Domesday Book referred to Weobley as Wibelai – Wibba being a sixth century Saxon chief, and ley meaning a forest clearing.
In the 20th century there was a devastating fire in Broad Street which coupled with the alleged fact that the Marquess of Bath had at least 4o buildings taken down, meant that Weobley dramatically decreased in size! The destroyed area is now a garden.
Churches of Weobley
Buildings in Weobley
- Weobley Union Workhouse
The Workhouse at Weobley was built in 1837 at White Hill, and the building still exists but became the home of the Council Offices and has now been converted into flats.Read More >
- Garnstone Castle - History
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 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
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.