Wednesday 10 June 2009

Comberford 8: Comberford Hall

8.1: Patrick Comerford at Comberford Hall in October 2008

By Patrick Comerford

The history of Comberford Hall is intimately entwined the history of the Comberford family until the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century.

The 15th-century, half-timbered Comberford Hall, built in 1439 by William Comberford, MP, was still standing in the late 18th century, but Shaw noted in 1798 that it had been “entirely demolished” by then and that a new house had been built on the site by Lord Donegall. Shaw also noted that traces of a moated site occupied by an earlier Comberford Hall could be found in a garden to the east of Comberford Hall. This was still clearly traceable in the 1970s.[1]

Robert Comberford and John Comberford leased the manor of Comberford and Wigginton with appurtenances in Staffordshire to John Birch, William Bromwich and John Hopkins on 23 March 1664 for 20 years,[2] perhaps in a continuation of the trusts established by William Comberford at the time of the English Civil War to protect and to secure the Comberford family estates [see: Comberford 6: ‘A family brought low …’].

After the death of Robert Comberford in 1671, his kinsman, Francis Comberford, the Quaker former magistrate of Bradley, failed in his efforts to claim Comberford Hall and the Comberford estate, and they passed to the Skeffington family of neighbouring Fisherwick, whose members later held the title of Lord Masserene. In 1706, when the Privy Council ordered a return by the parish clergy of Papists and reported Papists, “with their respective qualities, estates and places of abode,” 55 were counted in Tamworth, including Mrs Comberford of Comberford, with her three grandchildren and three servants.[3] This Mrs Comberford was Anne Brooke [see Comberford 6: ‘A family brought low …’], and it is likely that she and her family continued living at Comberford Hall as tenants of the Skeffington family until the mid-18th century, unable to redeem the mortgages raised on the Comberford estates.

8.2: Comberford Hall in 2008, ancestral home of the Comberford family

Some local historians say Comberford Hall was rebuilt in the 1790s. However, Mrs Valerie Coltman, whose family lived there until the late 1950s, believes Comberford Hall was rebuilt at a much earlier date in 1720. As evidence, she says she unearthed a plumb line dated 1720 in part of the walled garden when she was restoring it. In addition, she says the original staircase in the house, which was similar to the staircase in neighbouring Fisherwick Hall but was destroyed in a fire in the 1980s, was from the early 18th century. This dating, she says, is confirmed by the black Hamburg vine that once grew in the Georgian greenhouse, and black mulberry tree, and the damson, nectarine and peach trees there, which she says dated back to that period. She recalls that local legend says the house was rebuilt after a fire in which eight children died.[4]

Greenslade is of the opinion that there was a chapel in Comberford Hall and that it survived until the mid-18th century, when the estate was sold.[5]

Like neighbouring Fisherwick Hall, Comberford Hall descended in the mid-18th century with the title of Viscount Masserene, until 1755 when the 5th Viscount Masserene sold his mortgaged estates – perhaps to pay the debts of his gambling son, Clotworthy Skeffington – to Samuel Swinfen of Swinfen Hall, in Weeford, near Lichfield, as the trustee of his neighbour Samuel Hill of Shenstone Park, who built Swinfen Hall in 1757.[6]

On Hill’s death on 21 February 1758, Comberford and Fisherwick, along with the Tatton Park estate, passed to his nephew, Samuel Egerton (1711-1780) of Tatton Park, Cheshire. In 1758, Egerton had already embarked on his grand rebuilding of Tatton Park, with its neoclassical facade and exuberant rococo interiors, and in 1759 he sold his Comberford and Fisherwick estates back to their former trustee, Samuel Swinfen.[7]

8.3: Samuel Egerton, who inherited Comberford Hall in 1758, was painted by Bartolomeo Nazari in 1732 while he was an apprentice to the art dealer Joseph Smith in Venice

Samuel Swinfen sold the estates once again in 1761, this time to Thomas Thynne, 3rd Viscount Weymouth (1734-1796), a descendant of the Duchess of Somerset, who was a beneficiary under William Comberford’s will [see Comberford 5: Recusants, royal guests and civil war]. In 1756, Comberford Common was enclosed under an Act of Parliament.

8.4: Thomas Thynne (1734-1796), 1st Marquess of Bath, owner of Comberford Hall from 1761 to 1789

On 1 August 1789, Viscount Weymouth – who was about to become the 1st Marquis of Bath – and his son, the Hon Thomas Thynne, sold the Manors of Comberford and Wigginton, including lands in Hopwas and Coton, to Arthur Chichester (1739-1799), 5th Earl of Donegall.[8]

Within a year, Lord Donegall had raised £20,000 from the banker Henry Hoare, using the Manors and Lands of Comberford and Wigginton as collateral security.[9] Eventually, the Chichester family, crippled by the gambling debts of a profligate son, would find it impossible to pay off this loan, and would be forced to sell Comberford Hall and the manorial rights and lands that went with it.

8.5: Arthur Chichester (1739-1799), 1st Marquess of Donegall, painted by Thomas Gainsborough ... he was owner of Comberford Hall from 1789, and is said to have rebuilt Comberford Hall in the 1790s

Chichester, who was educated at Eton and Oxford, became the 1st Marquess of Donegall in 1791. Through the properties he inherited from his father, Donegall was the greatest landowner of his day in Ireland. His estates included 11,000 acres at Dunbrody, Co Wexford, almost 90,000 acres in Co Antrim, 160,000 acres in Co Donegal, the whole town of Belfast, and the townland of Ballynafeigh in Co Down, totalling over quarter of a million acres. However, he never lived on his Irish estates. Instead, Donegall made his principal residence in Staffordshire, tearing down the Skeffingtons’ old Tudor manor house at Fisherwick, close to Comberford, replacing it with a vast Palladian mansion set in a park of 4,000 acres, all designed and constructed by Capability Brown. At Fisherwick, he also collected an expensive library and rare specimens of natural history.[10]

8.6: Mrs Valerie Coltman in the walled gardens at Comberford Hall in the 1950s. She believes the gardens are evidence that Comberford Hall was rebuilt in 1720 (Photograph courtesy Mrs Valerie Coltman)

Lord Donegall is said to have rebuilt Comberford Hall, replacing the original half-timbered Tudor manor house dating back to the late 15th century, at the same time as he rebuilt neighbouring Fisherwick Hall. However, Mrs Valerie Coltman says it is more likely that Comberford Hall was rebuilt more than 70 years earlier in 1720.[11]

Although he gave his name to Donegal House in Bore Street, Lichfield, Donegal House was built in 1730 by a local merchant James Robinson. Robinson’s great-grand-daughters, Ellen-Jane and Marianne, who died in 1812, are commemorated in a marble memorial sculpture by Sir Francis Chantrey (1817) in Lichfield Cathedral known as the “Sleeping Children.”[12]

Shaw notes in 1798 that Lord Donegall was still Lord of Comberford Manor, along with Wigginton, Hopwas, Horton, Tynmore and Fisherwick.[13]

8.7: Lord Spencer Stanley Chichester ... inherited Comberford Hall in 1799 ... but lost it in 1808 because of his gambling debts

Donegall died in 1799, and Comberford Hall and his other Staffordshire estates, including Fisherwick, again heavily mortgaged, passed to a younger son, Lord Spencer Stanley Chichester, who also inherited Dunbrody Abbey, Co Wexford, along with a townhouse in Saint James’s Square, London, 20,000 acres on the Inishowen Peninsula in Co Donegal, the townland of Ballymacarrett in Co Down, the lands through which the newly-built Lagan Canal passed, and the family’s Gainsborough portraits.[14]

But Spencer Chichester’s gambling debts soon caught up on him. In 1801, he sold some of his lands in Lichfield, Alrewas, Whittington, Wichnor, Comberford, Coton, Tamworth and Hopwas, including two public houses and various burgage tenements in Lichfield, to the Lane family of King’s Bromley.[15]

By January 1805, Chichester was seeking legal opinion on his title to the Manor of Comberford and Wigginton.[16] Eventually, he was forced to sell Fisherwick, where the great house was demolished.[17]

8.8: Sir Robert Peel (1750-1830), by John Henry Robinson ... Peel foreclosed the mortgages on Comberford Hall in 1809, when it was sold to Richard Howard; his brother’s great-grandson, William Felton Peel (1839-1907), lived at Comberford Hall until 1902

Meanwhile, the interest in the loan secured against Comberford Manor and other estates seems to have been transferred by the banker Henry Hoare to Sir Robert Peel (1750-1830), MP for Tamworth (1790-1818) and father of Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850), who was Prime Minister (1834-1835, 1841-1846). Robert Peel senior held the mortgages on a number of neighbouring estates in the Lichfield and Tamworth area, including some associated with families linked with the Comberfords over the generations, such as Dyott family estates in Freeford and Fulfen in Saint Michael’s Parish, Lichfield. By 1808, Chichester’s gambling debts forced him to divest himself of Comberford Hall. In 1808, the Fisherwick estate was put up for sale, and included the Manors of Fisherwick, Horton, Comberford, Wigginton, and one-third of the Manor of Packington.[18]

8.9: Richard Howard (1733-1819) became the proprietor of Comberford Hall in 1808 (Staffordshire County Buildings Picture Collection)

On 28 September 1808, John Forster, trustee for Lord Spencer Chichester, assigned two mortgages secured on his property in Comberford and Wigginton to William Bagot, 1st Lord Bagot, trustee for his brother Richard Howard, formerly Bagot (1733-1819), who in 1783 married the Hon Frances Howard, daughter of William Howard (1714-1756), Viscount Andover, and heiress to the Elford estates. Richard Howard was the fourth son of Sir Walter Wagstaffe Bagot (1702-1768), 5th Baronet of Blithfield, and Barbara Legge (died 1765), daughter of William Legge, 1st Earl of Dartmouth. Richard Howard became the next proprietor of Comberford Hall, along with land, cloth and corn mills at Comberford, and fishing rights in the River Tame. The witnesses to this assignment in 1808 included Peter Gybon, bailiff of Burton.[19]

A year later, in 1809, the mortgages on Comberford Hall and the other Staffordshire estates acquired by the Chichester family were foreclosed by Sir Robert Peel, and the estates of Comberford and Wigginton were sold to Richard Howard. The Howard family’s tenants at Comberford Hall included Thomas Bradley Paget (1758-1817), a Tamworth banker, his daughter Sara Elizabeth (1789-1811), and her husband Henry Alford in 1811. Sara died on 10 February 1811 and was buried in Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth. Thomas Bradley Paget died at Bole Hall, Tamworth, in 1817. William Tongue was Howard’s tenant at Comberford Hall ca 1818-1849.

8.10, Sydney Tongue (1825-1866) of Comberford Hall married John Dudley Oliver (1809-1870) in 1866

William Tongue’s first daughter, Sydney Tongue (1825-1866) was born in 1825. On 5 April 1866, she married John Dudley Oliver (1809-1870), son of the Revd John Oliver (1763-1832), of Cherrymount, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, and Rector of Swepstone, Leicestershire. Sydney was John Dudley Oliver’s third wife; he had lived at Cherrymount, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, and Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin, and after their marriage they lived at Buckland, Farringdon, Berkshire. She died on 29 January 1909, and she has living descendants in the Oliver family.

William Tongue’s second daughter, Elizabeth Tongue of Comberford Hall, married into the Allsopp brewing family of Burton-on-Trent on 21 August 1839, when she married Sir Henry Allsopp (1811-1887), Conservative MP for East Worcestershire and later 1st Baron Hindlip (1886). Lady Hindlip died on 19 August 1906. Her direct descendant is the present Charles Henry Allsopp, 6th Lord Hindlip. However, Richard Howard may have been living at Comberford Hall at the time of his death in 1819.[20]

In 1807, Mary Howard of Elford Hall, daughter and heir of Richard and Frances Howard, married the Hon Fulke Greville Upton (1773-1846), son of the 1st Lord Templetown of Castle Upton, near Belfast. He changed his surname to Howard and this couple held the titles to the Manors of Comberford and Wigginton and one-third of the Manor of Packington between 1808 and 1844.[21]

Fulk Greville Howard was born in Geneva, the younger son of Clotworthy Upton, 1st Baron Templetown, and educated at Westminster School (1786-1791), Christ Church, Oxford (1791) and the Military Academy, Berlin. He joined the army and was an ensign in the 1st Foot Guards (1793), lieutenant and captain (1794), captain and lieutenant-colonel (1804), lieutenant-colonel of the 7th West Indian Regiment (1807). Reduced to half-pay, he commanded the Irish 9th garrison battalion (July 1807), was brevet colonel in 1813 and fully retired in 1825. He took part in the Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland during the French Revolutionary Wars in 1799, losing the sight of one eye in the Helder Expedition.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1803. He was MP for Castle Rising, Norfolk (1808-1832).

By 1844, the old original house had long been destroyed, and Colonel Fulke Howard died on 4 March 1846. Mary and Fulk Howard had no children and his property was therefore dispersed among his relatives. Later tenants at Comberford Hall included Richard Haines in 1860, Edward Farmer (ca 1797-1871), who lived there from ca 1867 until his death in March 1871. Edward Farmer was a master miller who lived and worked in Fazeley for many years, and he was joined in turn in the business by his nephew Charles Haywood, later Charles Haywood Farmer, and his youngest brother Edward Haywood, who continued the milling business together after Edward’s death.[22]

It is curious to note that Edward Farmer of Comberford Hall was a contemporary of Edward Farmer (1809-1876) of Tamworth, who was a detective with the railway and a writer who specialised in tragic tales in which children often suffered bravely before dying in their mother’s arms. His best known work, Little Jim, is set in Polesworth, near Tamworth, and is typical of his melodramatic verse:

I have no pain, dear mother, now;
But oh! I am so dry;
Just moisten poor Jim’s lips again;
And, mother, don’t you cry!

It was a well-known party piece, recited in many Victorian homes, but it also become the subject of popular parody.

This other Edward Farmer had to deal with a tragic rail accident that occurred near Tamworth on 14 September 1870. The Irish mail-train, on its way from Holyhead to London, was mistaken for a late-running goods train. Preparations to shunt the goods train off the main track led the express onto a siding at full speed. The engine ploughed through the buffers, left the rails, and plunged into the River Anker. Amazingly, the death toll was only three: the driver, the fireman and a priest who was a passenger on the train. Farmer died in Derby in 1876, and is commemorated by an obelisk in Saint Editha's Churchyard, Tamworth.[23]

Edward Farmer of Comberford Hall died in 1871, and was succeeded there by his nephew, Charles Haywood, later Charles Haywood-Farmer (1829-1885), who lived at Comberford Hall from Spring 1871 until 1874 or 1875. His third child was born there in Spring 1874, and the family later lived at Dosthill House, Tamworth.

In 1873, Mary Howard, as Lady of the Manor of Comberford, appointed Daniel Sell of Fisherwick to be the gamekeeper of her manors.[24] A court roll for the Manor of Comberford survives from December 1873.[25]

When Mary Howard died in 1877, she divided her estates between different cousins. Comberford Hall then passed from the trustees of the Hon Mary Greville Howard to her distant cousin Howard Francis Paget (1858-1935) of Elford, son of the Revd Francis Edward Paget (1806-1882), Rector of Elford; Francis Edward Paget was an early follower of the Oxford Movement, and was known as a writer of Tractarian fiction.[26] In 1894, Mary Howard’s trustees and Howard Francis Paget appointed Augustus Frederick Coe, solicitor, of 14 Hart Street, Bloomsbury Square, London, as Steward of the Manors of Comberford, Wigginton, Coton and Hopwas and Elford and Oakley, and Coe in turn appointed Arthur Williams of Hopwas as Bailiff of the Manor.[27]

From about 1888 to about 1896, Comberford Hall was the home of Sydney Fisher (1857-1927), a Tamworth paper manufacturer of Alders, Tamworth, Oakfield House, Bolehall, and Amington Hall, Tamworth. In 1886, Sydney Fisher married Annie Louise Van Notten-Pole, a sister of Sir Cecil Pery van Notten-Pole (1863-1948).[28] Frederick Arthur Morris was living at Comberford Hall in 1896.[29]

8.11: William Felton Peel (1839-1907) was living at Comberford Hall from 1900 to 1902

When James Comerford visited Comberford ca 1900-1902, William Felton Peel (1839-1907) was living at Comberford Hall, which was his family home from 1900 to 1903. Peel, who was born in Tamworth on 13 February 1839, was a son of Captain Edmund Peel RN (1801-1871), and a great-grandson of William Peel (1745-1791), uncle of the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850). William Felton Peel worked as a cotton and foreign produce merchant in Alexandria and in Bombay, where five of his eight children were born between 1868 and 1874. He later returned to England, and was in business in Broughton, Salford, near Manchester, where the other three children were born between 1876 and 1879. He lived at Comberford Hall until 1902, and in 1903 he moved with his family to Hawley Hill House, in Blackwater, Hawley, Hampshire. He died in 1907 following an accident while he was playing polo in Alexandria Egypt. He is buried in Hawley Trinity Churchyard. He married Sarah Edith, daughter of Major-General Michael Francklin Willoughby. Sarah died in 1932 in Wargrave, Berkshire.

The Peels’ first five children (they eventually had 14) – Emilie Constance, Edith, Lucy, Willoughby Seymour and Jonathan – were born in India.

One of their sons, Lieut Charles William Maberly Peel (1888-1915), was born in Chorlton, Lancashire. At the outbreak of World War I, he was appointed to a commission in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. He was attached from the 3rd Battalion to the 2nd Battalion RDF when he was killed on 24 April 1915 in the tragedy of Mouse Trap Farm in the Somme. Their other sons included: William Seymour Peel (born in Bombay 1873) and Jonathan Peel (born in India 1874), who were living with the family in Alexandria in 1914; Lieut-Col Willoughby Ewart Peel DSO (d 1966); Major Digby Robert Peel MC (1887-1971) of the Royal Artillery, who married Dorothy Zoë Fock, daughter of Col Henry Edward William Fock, 5th Baron de Robeck, on 8 October 1910 at Saint David’s Church, Naas, Co Kildare; and Sir Edward ‘Teddie’ Townley Peel KBE, DSO, MC (1884-1961).

Their sons-in-law included Admiral Robert Hamilton Anstruther, Lieutenant-Colonel Reginald Norton Knatchbull (1872-1917), who was killed in action in Mesopotamia, and Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Griffith Bassett Jeffreys of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, from Dunmore, Co Galway.[30]

In 1906, Comberford Weir was sold to the Mayor, Aldermen, Burgesses and Rural District Council of Tamworth,[31] and the Paget family proposed selling the Manor of Comberford and Wigginton in 1906-1907.[32] William Felton Peel died on 1 August 1907, and by 1908 Algernon Francis Ardwick Mawson was living at Comberford Hall. He later lived in Andover, Hampshire.[33]

In May 1914, Howard Paget donated land to the Lichfield Diocesan Trust for the erection of a mission church in Comberford.[34]

8.12: Christopher Askew Chandos-Pole as a boy before he came to live at Comberford Hall

At the time of the 1901 census and the 1911 census, Edwin Mostyn and his wife Edith were living in Comberford Hall.[35] At the same time, Comberford Lodge was also the home to Edwin Mostyn. A year later, in 1912, Comberford Hall was the home of Christopher Askew Chandos-Pole, who was related to Charles Darwin. In 1916, the Tamworth historian Charles Frederick Palmer was living there. Joseph Udale either owned or farmed Comberford Hall Farm in 1924, a holding of over 150 acres, but Comberford Hall was occupied by Percival Allen Warden, who was still there in 1936.[36]

When Howard Francis Paget died in 1935, his son handed over Elford estate to Birmingham City Council, along with many of the papers associated with the ownership of Comberford Hall. Later, Comberford Hall passed to the Arden, Pickin and Coltman families. Charles Pickin was living at Comberford Hall in 1940.

8.13: Mrs Valerie Coltman at Comberford Hall in the 1950s (Photograph courtesy Mrs Valerie Coltman)

Later, John David Coltman and his wife Valerie lived there until the late 1950s, when the Coltmans sold Comberford Hall to the Mills family.[37]

8.14: Comberford Hall in the early 1970s (Photograph © Patrick Comerford, 1971)

Comberford Hall subsequently passed to Joan Mills, who married Jim (JF) Darrell. The Darrell family was living there when Patrick Comerford visited Comberford Hall in the 1970s, and during their time at Comberford Hall the stables were converted into cottages.

8.15: The drive leading to Comberford Hall (Photograph © Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Comberford Hall was severely damaged by fire in the 1980s, with the loss of the original shutters on the outside windows, and much of the interior, including the original Georgian staircase.[38]

The house was rebuilt, and on 21 May 1999, Comberford Hall was sold for £355,000.

8.16: Comberford Hall in 2006 (Photograph courtesy Bill Tandly, Lichfield)

By 2003, Comberford Hall was home to Richard John Butler and Emma Louise Butler. They operated from Comberford Hall as Butler Development Ltd and Abacus Securities Nationwide Ltd. In 2006, Comberford Hall at Comberford, Tamworth, B79 9BA, was placed on the market by the Butler family through the Lichfield estate agent, Bill Tandy. The house, in a secluded setting at the end of a long gravel approach drive, was described as a “[s]ubstantial sized Grade 2 Listed Georgian residence with garden grounds, stabling and paddocks and with impressive drive approach.”[39]

8.17: Comberford Hall in 2007

The accommodation included a classical portico entrance, spacious inner reception hall, 19 ft x 15 ft; drawing room, 21 ft x 15 ft; dining room, sitting room, further family sitting room, large farmhouse kitchen with Aga, utility room, impressive gallery landing, master bedroom en-suite with dressing room and bathroom, three further bedrooms each with en-suite, a second-floor, fully self-contained three-bedroom apartment, coach house garaging, stabling for three horses and mature gardens.[40]

8.18: The interior of Comberford Hall in 2006 (Photographs courtesy Bill Tandy Lichfield)

By 2007 and 2008, Comberford Hall was the office of Gemini Property Plus.[41]

In March 2008, Comberford Hall was back on the market through Paul Carr estate agents, of Four Oaks. It was put to auction by Cotton Chartered Surveyors of Edgbaston at Aston Villa Football Club on 4 December 2008, with an asking price of £850,000, but was withdrawn and remained on the market.[42]

In 2008, Comberford Hall was described as a freehold, Grade II listed four-bedroom Georgian residence with garden, “set within a secluded setting at the end of a long private drive,” and grounds, stabling and paddock.” A second-floor three-bedroom self-contained apartment “could easily be converted into part of the main house if required.”

8.19: Comberford Hall in 2012 (Photograph courtesy Paul Carr)

In July 2012, Comberford Hall was on the market again, with the estate agents Paul Carr of Four Oaks inviting offers in the region of £950,000. By July 2014, it was on the market through the estate agents Acres of Four Oaks, Sutton, Coldfield, who were quoting £925,000.

8.20: Comberford Hall ... the interior in 2012

It is described as an eight-bedroom, detached, gated, Grade II listed Georgian three-storey family residence, set in extensive grounds and benefitting from stabling, detached garaging and a lake and enjoying an idyllic rural setting only two miles north of Tamworth.

8.21: Comberford Hall: the ground floor in 2012

The ground floor accommodation includes: A reception hall (19' 7 max x 16' 6 max), with a solid oak staircase, detailed architrave, cornice coving, wooden flooring, radiator and dado rail. A lounge (18' 10 x 15' 4), with a deep bay window facing the side, double doors opening onto the front gravel drive, a large fireplace with fitted log burner, ornate ceiling rose, dado rail, wooden flooring and four wall lights. A Drawing Room (20' 10 x 15' 5), with three sets of double French doors opening onto the front gravel drive, open fireplace, ceiling rose, dado rail, wooden flooring and four wall lights. A study/music room (14' 3 x 14' 2) with a window facing the side, radiator, downlighting, coving and solid oak wooden flooring. A breakfast room (14' 10 max x 15' 2 max into the bay), with a full height arch window facing the side, radiator, coving, large open fireplace with log style fire, door to a store cupboard. An opening through to the breakfast kitchen (15' 4 max x 16' 7) with fitted cabinets, granite work surfaces, inset Belfast-style sink unit, wall tiles, central island/breakfast bar, aga, radiator, a window facing the side, flagstone flooring, downlighting, and door leading to the basement store rooms. A door to the rear inner lobby. A door to a w.c., down lighting and provision for a washing machine and a stacked tumble dryer. Door to the rear entrance with a window facing the side, door opening out onto the side drive and a staircase leading off to the first and second floor.

8.22: Comberford Hall: the first floor in 2012

The first floor accommodation: main landing (23' 6 x 14' 3), with a ceiling rose, ornate coving, dado rail and doors leading off to the bedrooms. Master Bedroom (18' 11 max including wardrobes x 15' 4), with a bay window facing the side and a window facing the front, radiator, wall lighting, coving, full arrangement of beech effect fitted wardrobes and matching fitted doors opening into: en-suite bathroom (14' 3 max x 8' 9 min), with door to main landing and windows facing the side. Dressing Room (9' 8 excluding wardrobes x 4' 8), with a window facing the front, ceiling rose, radiator and fitted wardrobes. Bedroom 2 (16' 9 max x 15' 4 max), with a window facing the side and door to: en-suite bathroom (6' 1 x 5' 10). Bedroom 3 (15' 3 x 11' 6), with a window facing the front and a door to: en-suite shower room (6' 2 max x 7' 3), with a window facing the side. Bedroom Four (11' 2 x 11' 2), with a window facing the side, and an en-suite shower room (8' 1 x 6' 7).

8.23: Comberford Hall: the second floor in 2012

The second floor accommodation, previously used as office accommodation but offering the potential of a separate annex or incorporation into the main house, included: Landing (15' 8 max x 14' 11). Lounge (18' 10 x 15' 6), with a window facing the side and front. Bedroom 5 (14' max x 10' 4) with two windows facing the side. A store (9' 11 x 5' 6) with a a window facing the side and the potential to be converted into an en-suite to Bedroom 5. Bedroom Six (16' 1 x 11' 6), with a window facing the front. Bedroom Seven (10' 9 x 7') with a window facing the front. Breakfast Kitchen (14' 5 x 10' 11). Bathroom (8' 7 max x 8' 1).

8.24: Comberford Hall: the basement in 2012

In addition, there is a basement with a cellar and a store room.

8.25: The grounds at Comberford Hall in 2008 (Photograph courtesy Paul Carr, Four Oaks)

The recently landscaped grounds run to two or three acres, have a refurbished stable block with three stables, two garages and a storeroom or workshop. There is a pond or small lake, and views overlooking the fields beyond. To the side there is a decked area with lighting and a side garden laid mainly to lawn.

By June 2013, Paul Carr was inviting offers in the region of £850,000 for Comberford Hall, having reduced the asking price from £899,590.

Beside Comberford Hall is Comberford Hall Cottage, which is on the market [June 2016] through Northwood of Lichfield Street, Tamworth, with an asking price of £495,000. This is a Grade II Listed house, with four bedrooms.

8.26: The drive approaching Comberford Hall (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Comberford Hall is approached by a drive from a junction on the A513, where Comberford Road, leading out of Tamworth, becomes Elford Road. At the opposite side of the road, Wigginton Lane leads into Comberford Lane and Wigginton Village.

Further north of the crossroads, Tollgate Lane leads into Manor Lane and Comberford Village, where the house names include Comberford Lodge Farm, Manor Farm, Church Cottage and Lodge Cottage. In the 1970s, the site of the original Comberford Hall and the foundations of the moat could still be traced in the field behind Comberford Church and Hagley House, and the old road into the village could be traced on a large-scale map.[43]

8.27: Saint Mary’s and Saint George’s Church, Comberford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Saint Mary’s and Saint George’s Church in Comberford village was built on a site donated in May 1914 by Howard Paget to the Lichfield Diocesan Trust for the erection of a mission church. The church’s architect was Andrew Capper.[44]

8.28: Comberford: a name and family remembered on a hassock in Lichfield Cathedral (Photograph © Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Today, the church is part of Wigginton parish, and the other churches in parish are Saint Leonard’s, Wigginton, and Saint James’s. The parish describes itself as being “on the traditional side of the Church. That said we have embraced the new services of Common Worship very happily and also enjoy a mixture of traditional hymns and modern music. But we are Catholic in the best sense of that word, seeing ourselves as rooted in the Holy Eucharist, and the traditional vestments and the reserved sacrament.”[45]

It is a description of a church that would have appealed to many members of the Comberford family in previous centuries.

Footnotes and references:

[1] Shaw 1, p. 432; Patrick Comerford, visits to Comberford and Comberford Hall, 1970-2022 (latest visits, 16-17.6.2022).
[2] Staffordshire Record Office, Mss Records of the Congreve family of Congreve and Stretton, parish of Penkridge, Family Settlements, Birch Family Settlements, Trusteeships &c., D 1057/E/3/3.
[3] Greenslade, Catholic Staffordshire, pp 179-181; Greenslade, ‘Staffordshire Papists.’
[4] Patrick Comerford, conversation with Mrs Valerie Coltman of Four Oaks, in Lichfield, 27.3.2008.
[5] Greenslade, Catholic Staffordshire, p. 212.
[6] Shaw 1, p. 367; ‘Townships: Fisherwick with Tamhorn,’ VCH Staffs 14, pp 237-252.
[7] Shaw 1, p. 368; ‘Townships: Fisherwick with Tamhorn,’ VCH Staffs 14 (1990), pp 237-252.
[8] William Salt Library, William Salt’s Original Collection, M 761/21/1; Shaw, p. 368; ‘Townships: Fisherwick with Tamhorn,’ VCH Staffs 14, ‘Lichfield’ (1990), pp 237-252; Birmingham City Archives, Elford Hall collection, Ms 3878/625.
[9] Birmingham City Archive, Elford Hall Papers, Ms 3878/1456.
[10] WA Maguire, Living like a lord: the second Marquis of Donegall, 1769-1844 (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2002).
[11] Patrick Comerford, conversation with Mrs Valerie Coltman of Four Oaks, in Lichfield, 27.3.2008.
[12] Upton, pp 122, 150-152; Patrick Comerford, visits to Lichfield, including Donegal House and Lichfield Cathedral, 1970-2022 (latest visits 21-22.3.2007, 4.5.2007, 13-14.8.2007; 27-28.3.2008, 24-25.10.2008; 19-21.3.2009, 11-12.8.2009; 3-4.3.2010, 11-13.6.2010; 26-27.2.2011, 11-13.8.2011; 25-27.5.2012, 6-8.11.2012; 29-31.3.2013, 30.10-1.11.2013; 27.2.2014, 12-13.5.2014, 6-7.6.2014; 16-17.1.2015, 31.5.2015, 24-25.6.2015, 23-24.10.2015; 1-2.3.2016, 13.5.2016, 23.5.2016, 5-6.6.2016; 17-19.04.2017, 23-25.11.2017; 24-25.04.2018, 22-23.11.2018; 17-18.09.2019; 11-13.10.2021; 16-17.06.2022; 24.01.2023).
[13] Shaw 1, pp 368, 432.
[14] Maguire, pp 7-8.
[15] Staffordshire Record Office, Papers of the Lane Family of King’s Bromley, Title Deeds, D 802/10.
[16] Birmingham City Archives, Elford Hall collection, Ms 3878/749.
[17] Maguire, pp 38-39.
[18] Birmingham City Archives, Elford Hall collection, Ms 3878/754-756; Papers from Thomas Holmes, Solicitors, Lichfield Street, Tamworth, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service, Staffordshire Record Office, D 5368/6/1/25/1-16.
[19] William Salt Library, William Salt’s Original Collection, Ms 761/21/5.
[20] White’s Directory of Staffordshire (1834), p. 394; Post Office Directory of Birmingham with Staffordshire and Worcestershire (1849), p. 368; W. White, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire (Sheffield, 1851), pp 389, 633; ‘Tamworth,’; Mitchell (1935), p. 183; Alford monument in Saint Editha’s Parish Church, Tamworth; Burke’s Peerage, Debrett’s Peerage, various editions, s.v. Hindlip.
[21] Birmingham City Archives, Elford Hall collection, Ms 3878/984.
[22] Kelly’s Post Office Directory of Staffordshire (1860), pp xvi, 714; probate will of Charles William Parsons, 20.8.1872, PA/101/10/25 and PA/101/10/26; Kelly’s Post Office Directory of Staffordshire (1868, 1872), p. 818; email correspondence with Susan Terry, a descendant of the Hayward-Farmer family, 24.7.2011, 12.6.2016.
[23] Richard Stone, Tamworth: A History (Chichester: Phillimore, 2003), p. 20.
[24] Birmingham City Archives, Elford Hall Papers, Ms 3878/993.
[25] Birmingham City Archives, Elford Hall collection, Ms 3878/991.
[26] Birmingham City Archives, Elford Hall collection, Mss 3878/1072, 1107, 1117, 1119, 1155, 1187, 1188, 1189, 1191, 1194, 1252.
[27] Birmingham City Archives, Elford Hall collection, Mss 3878/1107, 1118, 1119, 1120.
[28] Kelly’s Directory of Birmingham, Staffordshire and Warwickshire (1888), p. 416.
[29] Debrett’s Peerage, various eds, s.v. van Notten-Pole (1791); Kelly’s Directory of Staffordshire (1888), p. 416; Kelly’s Directory of Birmingham, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire (1888), p. 416; Kelly’s Directory of Staffordshire (1896), pp ix, 460-461, 563; Kelly’s Directory of Birmingham, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire (1896), pp xxi, 116.
[30]; Kelly’s Directory of Birmingham, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire (1900), p. xl; Kelly’s Directory of Birmingham, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire (1904), pp xl, 496; Kelly’s Directory of Staffordshire (1904), p. 496; Mitchell (1935), p. 183; Burke’s Peerage (107th ed, 2003), pp 477, 692; Debrett’s Peerage, various eds, s.v. Anstruther (1694) and Brabourne (1880); Burke’s Landed Gentry, various eds, s.v. Peel of Trenant Park, formerly of Peele Fold; (23.6.2008); information on William Felton Peel from Clive Daggett, Hawley Cricket Club Treasurer and Researcher (20.2.2014).
[31] Birmingham City Archives, Elford Hall collection, Mss 3878/1192, 1194.
[32] Birmingham City Archives, Elford Hall collection, Mss 3878/1107, 1191.
[33] Kelly’s Directory of Staffordshire (1908), pp ix, 524.
[34] Birmingham City Archives, Elford Hall collection, Ms 3878/1252.
[35] Census Tamworth, RG 13-2650.
[36] Kelly’s Directory of Staffordshire (1924), p. 562; Kelly’s Directory of Staffordshire and Derbyshire (1936), p. 570; Burke’s Landed Gentry, various eds, s.v. Chandos-Pole of Radbourne; Burke’s Landed Gentry, various eds, s.v. Darwin, late of Downe. CA Chandos Pole was the great-great-grandson of Colonel Edward Sacheverell Pole (1718-1780) and his wife Elizabeth Collier; when she was widowed, she married the widowed Dr Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802) of Beacon Street, Lichfield, grandfather of Charles Darwin (1809-1882).
[37] Kelly’s Directory of Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire (1940), p. 549; Patrick Comerford, visits to Comberford Hall, 1970-2023 (latest visit, 24.01.2023); Patrick Comerford, conversation with Mrs Valerie Coltman of Four Oaks, in Lichfield, 27.3.2008.
[38] Patrick Comerford, visits to Comberford Hall 1970-2016; Patrick Comerford, conversation with Mrs Valerie Coltman of Four Oaks, in Lichfield, 27.3.2008.
[39] Visits by Patrick Comerford to Comberford Hall, 1970-2023 (latest visit, 24.01.2023); Bill Tandy (Lichfield) (1.8.2006).
[40] Bill Tandy (Lichfield) (1.8.2006).
[41] (25.3.2008).
[42] (25.3.2008); conversation with staff of Cotton Chartered Surveyors, Edgbaston (23.12.2008).
[43] Patrick Comerford, visits to Comberford, 1970-2023 (latest visits, 24.01.2023).
[44] Birmingham City Archives, Elford Hall collection, MS 3878/1252.
[45] Wigginton Parish, Diocese of Lichfield, (13.7.2007).

© Text: Patrick Comerford, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016; 2020; 2023; photographs: named photographers

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indiajo said...

why is their no record of the children who died in the fire

indiajo said...

the records i refer to are names gender ages

Patrick Comerford said...

Thank you indiajo. If you can send me more details I would certainly share them. I do not have news reports or family details to hand, but I would be very willing to use this information so that the fuller story of this tragedy is told. Many thanks, Patrick

BrianL said...

I have photos of Comberford Hall and the children of the Hill family who were ther in 1930. My mother was their nanny. She mentioned Mrs Warden and I note that Percival Warden was owner at that time.
Any interest?

Brian L

Patrick Comerford said...

Thank you Brian. I would be be very interested in these photographs, thank you for the offer. Could I share them on this site? Patrick

BrianL said...

If you send me your email address I will scan and send the photos with more details.

Since the children are probably still alive, and I am not in touch, perhaps they should not be shared until I know of their fate.

Patrick Comerford said...
This comment has been removed by the author.