A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
MANOR AND OTHER ESTATES.
In the earlier 8th century Sigward, a follower (comes) of King Ethelbald of Mercia, is said to have held 3 hides of land at MADELEY by charter. Between 727 and 736 he sold his estate for a large sum of money to Milburga, daughter of a sub-king of the Magonsæte. (fn. 1) Madeley then remained a possession of the church of Wenlock, which St. Milburga had ruled as abbess, until the dissolution of Wenlock priory in 1540 when it passed to the Crown. (fn. 2) Wenlock held Madeley, like its other possessions, of the Crown except between c. 1074 and 1102 when the priory held its estates of the earls of Shrewsbury. (fn. 3)
In 1544 Robert Brooke bought the manor from the Crown; it was to be held as ½ knight's fee. (fn. 4) Brooke (kt. 1555), a zealous papist who was elected speaker of the Commons in April 1554, was chief justice of Common Pleas from October 1554. On his death in 1558 the manor passed to his widow Dorothy, and c. 1572 it came to his eldest son John (d. 1598). (fn. 5) John was succeeded by his son Basil (kt. 1604), (fn. 6) a leading Roman Catholic and a prominent industrialist, courtier, and Civil War conspirator. (fn. 7) Sir Basil died in 1646, (fn. 8) and in 1652 his son Thomas forfeited his estates for treason against parliament. (fn. 9) Soon afterwards Thomas recovered the manor through Maj. John Wildman, the speculator in royalists' and papists' lands. (fn. 10) Thomas Brooke died at the Hay in 1675, when his grandson Basil, a minor, (fn. 11) may already have had an interest in the estate. (fn. 12) Basil died without issue in 1699 leaving Madeley to his cousin Comberford Brooke, of Comberford (Staffs.). Comberford Brooke died abroad in 1710 (fn. 13) and Madeley descended to his son Basil, who died a minor in 1727. (fn. 14) The manor was then divided between Basil's sisters Catherine, who married J. U. Smitheman of Little Wenlock, and Rose, who in 1733 married John Giffard, a London merchant and younger brother of the owner of Chillington (Staffs.). (fn. 15)
Catherine Smitheman died in 1737, and her half of the manor passed to her husband. When he died in 1744 it descended to their son John, a minor. (fn. 16) John Smitheman and his wife sold it in 1774 to Abraham Darby (III), (fn. 17) and in 1781 Darby and his wife sold it to Darby's former brother-in-law Richard Reynolds. (fn. 18)
Rose Giffard died a widow in 1763. (fn. 19) Her four daughters inherited equal shares of her half of the manor. In 1765 one of them, Rose, married Peter Parry, of Tywysog (Denb.), (fn. 20) and in 1766 the Parrys sold their eighth to Rose's unmarried sisters Anne and Mary. (fn. 21) In 1774 Anne and Mary Giffard agreed to sell their three eighths of the manor to Abraham Darby (III), (fn. 22) but the agreement never took effect and in 1780 the sisters' three eighths were sold to Richard Reynolds. (fn. 23) In 1775 the remaining Giffard sister Barbara, widow of Thomas Slaughter, sold her eighth of the manor to William and Edward Elwell, two West Bromwich ironfounders, and their brother John, a Westminster ironmonger. (fn. 24) Abraham Darby (III) bought the Elwells' eighth in 1778, (fn. 25) and he and his wife sold it to Richard Reynolds in 1781. (fn. 26)
Reynolds thus reunited the whole manor in his own hands in 1780–1. (fn. 27) Eminent as Quaker philanthropist and ironmaster, Reynolds died in 1816. (fn. 28) His real property then descended to his son Joseph and his daughter Hannah Mary Rathbone. In 1824, on the partition of the inheritance, Madeley came to Joseph (fn. 29) who conveyed it to his three sons in 1853: a seventh to Thomas Reynolds, three sevenths to Joseph Gulson Reynolds, and three sevenths to Dr. William Reynolds. Thomas (d. 1854) left his seventh to his two brothers.
Between 1871 and 1889 the manor passed by various means (fn. 30) to the Ball family, descendants of Joseph Reynolds's daughter Rebecca and her husband (and second cousin) (fn. 31) Joseph Ball. In 1891 eleven members of the family settled their shares or interests in the manor on trustees, the leading trustee being the Revd. C. R. Ball, locally reputed lord of the manor. (fn. 32) The manor remained in the hands of the Ball trustees for the rest of its existence, probably until c. 1940; it became the custom to appoint two trustees from the Revd. A. W. Ball's descendants, two from those of his brother Canon C. R. Ball. (fn. 33) Canon Ball died in 1918, (fn. 34) the leading trustee thereafter apparently being his nephew E. A. R. Ball (d. 1928). (fn. 35)
By 1641 the manor was encumbered with debts, reckoned at £10,000 in 1651. (fn. 36) Thomas Brooke had to repurchase it in the 1650s, and by the 1690s, when it was probably worth c. £1,000 a year, (fn. 37) his grandson Basil's estate was further encumbered by the costs of his industrial enterprises. Accordingly in 1695 the manor was settled on trustees empowered to sell land but charged with the continuance of the coal and iron works. (fn. 38) Until the 18th century it consisted of the whole parish (fn. 39) except for the vicar's glebe and for some land in Coalbrookdale which had been sold in 1540; (fn. 40) it also included c. 2 a. in Benthall parish, the Bower yard and weir. (fn. 41) The manor was valued for sale in 1702. Sales began soon after, some to sitting tenants, but the mineral rights were reserved. (fn. 42) Coppice land in Madeley Wood (the Lloyds) and Coalbrookdale (with Cawbrook or Stanley's farm) was bought back into the manor in the 18th century. (fn. 43) By 1849 the lord of the manor owned only 291 a. of land (fn. 44) and in 1910 c. 126 a. (mainly Lees farm and land at Lincoln Hill). (fn. 45) Most of the land, including Madeley Wood Hall with almost 97 a., (fn. 46) was sold piecemeal in the earlier 1920s. (fn. 47) The mineral rights, long the manor's most valuable constituent, were sold (except the beds of Broseley tile clay leased to Geo. Legge & Son) to the lessee, the Madeley Wood Co. Ltd., in 1929. (fn. 48)
The Coalbrookdale property separated from the manor in 1540. (fn. 49) descended in the Lokier and Sprott families, with the Marsh (in Barrow) from (Staffs.). The estate, consisting of Court and Windmill farms, (fn. 50) was bought in 1828 by James Foster, the Stourbridge ironmaster (d. 1853) and the largest landowner in the parish in 1849. (fn. 51) The Fosters sold the house and Court farm to the tenant Joseph Barnett, part in 1919 and the rest in 1936. In 1964 Dawley development corporation bought the house and most of the land, c. 172 a., from Barnett's son. (fn. 52)
Madeley Court is an L-shaped building. (fn. 53) Two ranges of fine locally quarried ashlar form the north and east sides of a forecourt; in their angle is a porch with a side entrance. On the south side of the forecourt is a gatehouse. the later 16th century to the 18th: suit was made for it at Marsh manor court in the 18th century. It seems to have consisted of two farms: Strethill farm, probably including the later Meadow farm and mostly sold to Mary Rathbone and her sisterin-law Rebecca Darby in 1805; and Caldebrook or Cawbrook farm, apparently acquired by the Stanleys who c. 1705 purchased land which they held of the manor. (fn. 54)
In 1705 Madeley Court and almost 520 a. of demesne was bought by Matthias Astley of Tamhorn (Staffs.). His granddaughter Mary Astley (d. 1826) carried the property to her husband (and cousin) Richard Dyott, of Freeford
The earliest building is probably the 13thcentury hall block, forming the north side of the forecourt and originally free standing. It had only a single room at the level of the ground to the south, where it was entered at the east end; on the north ground level there was an undercroft. Not much later another, almost free-standing, building touched the hall at its south-west corner, and by the end of the Middle Ages wings running south on slightly diverging axes abutted the hall's east and west gables. Between them another building orientated east-west may have been a chapel. A lease of 1498 mentioned a chapel chamber, tower, hall, parlour, and outhouses. (fn. 55) About 1508 the buildings were in decay. In the later 1530s the manorial bailiff John Wylcocks lived in the house, and after 1540 Hugh Leighton of Rodenhurst, lessee of the manor since 1534, allowed John Bayley, last prior of Wenlock, and his servants to lodge in the house; (fn. 56) Bayley died there in 1553. (fn. 57)
It was presumably for John Brooke (succ. c. 1572, d. 1598) that both wings were partly rebuilt and extended, the east-west building between them probably being demolished. The forecourt was formalized and the line of the wings extended by enclosing walls. The two-storeyed gatehouse with three-storeyed flanking turrets was built in the centre of the south side of the court, the porch in front of the hall doorway being built about the same time. Details of the gatehouse link it with Condover, (fn. 58) where Walter Hancock worked in the 1590s. (fn. 59)
By the earlier 17th century an upper floor had been added above the hall; it had a gallery and two chambers, both having garderobes beside the hall chimney stack. Another range, late 16th- or early 17th-century, projected east from the centre of the east wing and there may also have been a range continuing west on the line of the hall. A large formal garden west of the house was enclosed with red brick walls in the 17th century; an elaborate sundial (fn. 60) and 'astronomical toy' stands on 15-in. stone pillars in the centre.
The house was perhaps occupied by royalists and by the county committee in the 1640s. (fn. 61) The last lord of the manor to live there was Basil Brooke (d. 1699). (fn. 62) Thereafter the house's status gradually declined. The west wing was probably demolished in the 18th century. The east range was shortened at the same time but a two-roomed, two-storeyed block was added to the south-east corner of the east wing. Abraham Darby (I) was renting part of the house at his death in 1717. Later in the 18th century gentlemen farmers lived there, giving way to yeomen in the 19th century. (fn. 63) After 1840, when James Foster was mining under his property, the house declined rapidly: spoil heaps isolated it and covered the old fish or mill ponds. (fn. 64) C. W. Pearce, W. O. Foster's manager, lived in part of it until c. 1909 but in spite of his solicitude the house was already 'far gone to decay' by 1883 and seemed likely soon to disappear. (fn. 65) Some repairs were made in 1904 (fn. 66) but seventy years later, despite scheduling as an ancient monument, the hall range (long a farm store) and garden walls were ruinous and the gatehouse (formerly divided into cottages) had begun to crack apart. None of the buildings was inhabited after 1977. (fn. 67) In 1973 Telford development corporation marked the new town's tenth anniversary by announcing that the house would be restored. The building was made structurally sound and weatherproof 1976–9, and later the gatehouse was partly dismantled and rebuilt. (fn. 68)
The rectory, appropriated to Wenlock priory in 1344, was worth £8 in 1346 (fn. 69) and 1370, perhaps £5 net in the 1370s. (fn. 70) In 1535 it was let for a reserved rent of £2 to Richard Charlton, still tenant in 1544 when the Crown sold the impropriate tithes to Robert Brooke. (fn. 71) The rectory descended with the manor until the early 18th century. (fn. 72) In the sales of manorial lands begun in 1705 the rectorial tithes due from, and eventually merged with, the Court demesnes and the Hay farm were sold with them. (fn. 73) By 1713 the remaining great tithes were the property of John Ashwood, (fn. 74) who built Madeley Hall and was apparently Comberford Brooke's executor and Basil Brooke's guardian. (fn. 75) By then Ashwood, a purchaser of small properties in the sales of 1705, (fn. 76) also owned 111 a. which his father had held as tenant in 1702 besides half of 'Fosbrooke's tenement' (54½ a.). (fn. 77) John's son William (d. 1739) and William's son John bought more land in Madeley and it was thus a considerable estate which, with the impropriate tithes, John's daughter Dorothy (d. 1783) brought in marriage in 1770 to Henry Hawley (cr. bt. 1795). (fn. 78) The Hawley family broke up the estate in the earlier 19th century. Their agent and tenant Timothy Yate, of Madeley Hall, was exchanging land with them by 1810, (fn. 79) and sales (fn. 80) seem to have begun before 1849 when Sir J. H. Hawley, Dorothy Ashwood's grandson, (fn. 81) owned some 333 a. (fn. 82) Most of that was sold in 1848: Madeley Hall, with 183 a., to Joseph Yate (d. 1893); (fn. 83) Castle Green farm to Francis and John Yates; (fn. 84) and the Lodge farm, with some 36 a., to Francis Darby. (fn. 85) By 1849 great tithes from some 1,284 a. in the parish had been merged with the land, mainly the former Court demesnes (634 a.), the Hay farm, and land which the Hawleys then, or had formerly, owned. The remaining impropriate tithes were commuted to £115 10s. that year and sold in 1858. (fn. 86)
The Yate family owned the Hall from 1848 to 1946. (fn. 87) In 1914 Joseph Yate's unmarried daughter Louisa Ann conveyed it, with a reduced and mortgaged estate, to her cousin Col. Charles E. Yate (cr. bt. 1921, d. 1940) (fn. 88) and in 1946 Sir Charles's nephew, Lt.-Col. V. A. C. Yate, sold the house and its contents, with surrounding land and outbuildings, to Wenlock corporation.
Madeley Hall, built of brick on a moulded stone plinth in the early 18th century, has a principal front, to the east, of 5 bays and a west front with a recessed centre. The house was extended north and west in 1921. In the early 1980s it was converted to flats by the Wrekin district council. Extensive internal alterations before that had left some original oak panelling. A terrace along the east front led south to a two-storeyed gazebo of the late 18th century. The outbuildings include a detached 18th-century brick barn, two timberframed farm buildings with a wheel house attached to one of them, and a long range of stone-fronted stables heightened and enlarged in brick in the 19th century.
The Lodge, former farmhouse of the Lodge farm, was made into three separate dwellings. The southern, stone, block is 17th-century (fn. 89) but the north range, converted to cottages in the 19th century, incorporates features that may survive from earlier.
Abraham Darby and his descendants, often several households of them at a time, lived in the parish for two and a quarter centuries, (fn. 90) eventually owning much land there. About 1709 Abraham (I) occupied a timber-framed house, formerly Lawrence Wellington's, near the Great forge in Coalbrookdale. Later known as White End, it was demolished in 1939. (fn. 91) John and Ann Darby moved into it c. 1711 when their son Abraham (I) took part of Madeley Court, (fn. 92) later (c. 1715) beginning a new brick house for himself at the top of Coalbrookdale; that was either the present Dale House or the Grange, family tradition favouring the former. The house was not quite finished at his death in 1717, and his widow was denied the use of it by her brother-in-law Thomas Baylies. Soon afterwards, however, Thomas Goldney and Darby's son-in-law Richard Ford, the new managers of the Coalbrookdale works, obtained possession. Abraham (II) was brought up there (fn. 93) but little remains of the early 18th-century house. Originally of two storeys with attic dormers and a symmetrical main front of five bays, it seems to have been remodelled in the early 19th century, when the attics were incorporated into an extra storey and some of the rooms reconstructed. Edmund Darby's widow Lucy rented it from the Coalbrookdale Co. in 1849, (fn. 94) and in the later 19th century the company's general manager, W. G. Norris (d. 1911), lived there. (fn. 95) Earlier 20th-century alterations included the addition of an iron balcony across the main front; converted into flats, the house was internally replanned in 1952– 3 when all except the sash windows of the main elevation were replaced by iron casements and the pitched roof by a lead flat. Glynwed Foundries Ltd. sold it to Telford development corporation in 1980. (fn. 96)
About 1750 Abraham Darby (II) built Sunniside above Loamhole dingle. (fn. 97) In 1758 he bought half of the Hay, a 266-a. farm which had belonged to the Purcells 1705–55. Abraham (III) bought the rest of Hay farm in 1771, (fn. 98) and c. 1775, while attempting to acquire all the shares of the manor, he left Coalbrookdale for the Hay at the opposite end of the parish. He lived there in style, dying in 1789. His son Francis, then a minor, lived there 1803–7. Later tenants included Robert Ferriday (d. 1842), the purchaser of Upper House c. 1830, and the brothers John (d. 1841) and Thomas (d. 1843) Rose, managers of the nearby Coalport porcelain works. (fn. 99)
The Hay Farm is a red brick house of various dates. Although ostensibly 18th-century, it may be of earlier origin. The principal, east, front has a recessed centre of three bays flanked by two unequal short wings. The central range has a plan which may be 17th-century, but its walls appear contemporary with the early 18th-century north wing. A south wing and additional service room on the north-west were added later in the 18th century, probably by Abraham Darby (III). In the 19th century the house was partly rendered, the interior was extensively replanned, and a conservatory was built between the wings on the east front. The farm buildings were altered and partly demolished during the Hay's conversion to a hotel and golf and country club, opened in 1981. (fn. 100) Largely 18th-century and of brick, they incorporated the stone walls of an earlier barn.
Francis Darby moved back to Coalbrookdale in 1807. Other members of the family lived there in the earlier 19th century in large detached residences of the 18th or early 19th century. (fn. 101) Besides Dale House, Sunniside, (fn. 102) and the White House, (fn. 103) there were the Grange, a symmetrically fronted house of five bays belonging c. 1850 to Richard Darby, retired ironmaster; (fn. 104) Mount Pleasant, probably the new house started in 1803 by Edmund Darby (fn. 105) on the site of Abraham (II)'s summer house; (fn. 106) and the Chesnuts, where Abraham (IV) lived c. 1850. (fn. 107) The unusual plan of the Chesnuts, with entrance in each end elevation, strengthens the likelihood that Sarah Darby (d. 1821) reconstructed it from an unequal pair of older houses bought from Edward Cranage in 1809. (fn. 108) Interior fittings are also of several styles: some panelling and doors seem to be later 18thcentury, other doors and the main staircase could be c. 1820 and many doorcases c. 1840. By 1849 the house was Abraham Darby (IV)'s (fn. 109) and from c. 1853 to c. 1901 it was Coalbrookdale vicarage. (fn. 110) In 1980 the house was two dwellings; the larger, called the Chesnuts, had been restored in the 1970s when some new fittings, matching the original ones, had been introduced.
By 1849 Francis Darby (d. 1850) was the second largest landowner in the parish with 437 a., (fn. 111) over half of it inherited; (fn. 112) the rest included his extensive purchases (fn. 113) around Sunniside (fn. 114) and on the opposite side of Coalbrookdale, (fn. 115) with the sporting rights over his property. (fn. 116) In 1851 all his real estate was settled on his younger daughter Adelaide Anna, (fn. 117) then living at the White House. (fn. 118) She and her husband Henry Whitmore sold the Hay farm in 1853 to Joseph Reynolds, whose legatee sold it in 1909. (fn. 119) When Sunniside was demolished c. 1856 the Whitmores adopted its name for the White House. (fn. 120) In 1879 Whitmore's widow added Greenbank farm, Little Dawley, (fn. 121) to the Sunniside estate, which she left to her elder sister Matilda Frances, Abraham (IV)'s widow. During the sisters' time a deer herd was maintained in Sunniside's grounds. Mrs. Darby died in 1902 leaving the estate to her kinsman A. E. W. Darby, of Adcote; (fn. 122) in his hands it was united with other Darby property to the south formerly enjoyed by his uncle Abraham (IV), (fn. 123) the owner of 161 a. in the parish in 1849. (fn. 124) In 1910 A. E. W. Darby owned 401 a. in Coalbrookdale and to the west, including 87 a. in Little Dawley. (fn. 125) On his death in 1925 the estate passed to his daughter Mrs. F. M. Cope-Darby (d. 1935), of Sunniside. Her trustees dispersed the estate by sale in the 1950s and 1960s. Sunniside was demolished in 1960. (fn. 126)
John Bartlett, incumbent of Buildwas 182261, (fn. 127) was living at Upper House in 1824. (fn. 128) By c. 1830 he was living in the extreme west of the parish near the Buildwas boundary, at Marnwood House (fn. 129) which he had probably built (fn. 130) on property acquired from Joseph Reynolds and Abraham Darby (IV). (fn. 131) In 1849 he owned 122 a. in the parish, (fn. 132) much of it formerly owned by the Hawleys. (fn. 133) Bartlett, married to William Reynolds's daughter, (fn. 134) took much interest in Madeley affairs (fn. 135) and after his death in 1861 was commemorated by an obelisk erected in Market Square, Ironbridge. (fn. 136)
By 1849 the Coalbrookdale and Madeley Wood companies were among the parish's principal landowners with 107 a. and 70 a. respectively. (fn. 137) The Madeley Wood Co. Ltd. owned the former manorial mineral rights from 1929 (fn. 138) until Nationalization in 1947, but its landed property, with that of the Anstices, had been sold in 1926. (fn. 139) The Coalbrookdale Co. and its successors (fn. 140) continued to own much property in Coalbrookdale and Ironbridge. (fn. 141) In the 1930s W. J. Legge and his nephew W. G. Dyas, of the Villa, were said to be the chief landowners in the parish. (fn. 142)