A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 9, Burton-Upon-Trent. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2003.
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Manor and other estates
In 942 King Edmund gave land at Stapenhill to Wulfsige the Black, possibly an ancestor of Wulfric Spot, the founder of Burton abbey. (fn. 17) The abbey still held the manor in the Middle Ages, although it and the Paget family as its successor seem not to have been the only landowner. Certainly by the 17th century there were several freehold estates, the largest being attached to Stapenhill House. When the Clay family sold that estate in 1911 it covered 260 a. mostly in the part of the township taken into Burton in 1878. (fn. 1) In contrast, much of the 312 a. sold in 1918 by the marquess of Anglesey was farmland in the south-eastern part of the township. (fn. 2)
An estate centred on Brizlincote Hall Farm in the part of Stapenhill township now in Bretby civil parish is of medieval origin.
In 1086 Burton abbey's land at Stapenhill was assessed for tax on 4 carucates and 2 bovates. (fn. 3) Only 2 carucates, however, were recorded at Stapenhill in the abbey's early 12th-century survey, and it is possible that the Domesday Book entry had included the Brizlincote and Stanton areas, which were separately entered in the early 12th-century survey, Brizlincote being assessed on 10 bovates and Stanton on one carucate. (fn. 4) In the late 1180s or early 1190s the abbey tightened its control when Bertram de Verdun (d. 1192) gave it land at Stapenhill in exchange for land at Field, in Leigh, and for a cash payment; he also abandoned his claim to the church at Stapenhill. (fn. 5)
Stapenhill became a tithing in Burton manor, and after the Dissolution of the abbey and then of Burton college it passed as part of that manor to the Paget family. (fn. 6)
BRIZLINCOTE HALL FARM
In the early 12th century a bovate of land at Brizlincote was held of Burton abbey by a man named Mabon and subsequently by his son John. (fn. 7) In the 1160s or early 1170s the abbey granted the estate to John's son, Richard of Brizlincote. (fn. 8) The owner in 1219 was Robert of Brizlincote and later in the century his son John. (fn. 9) By the later 1370s what was called the manor of Brizlincote was held by Elizabeth Cuyly, who married John Stanhope of Rampton (Notts.). Brizlincote passed to their son, Sir Richard (d. 1436), who seems to have conveyed it to Robert Horton of Catton, in Croxall (Derb.) (d. 1423). (fn. 10) It remained in the Horton family until 1546, when Walter Horton granted it to Sir William Paget. (fn. 11) In 1560 Paget sold the estate to a London merchant, John Merry, whose family remained the owners until 1708 when it was bought by Philip Stanhope, 2nd earl of Chesterfield (d. 1714), whose main seat was at nearby Bretby. (fn. 12) Philip's son, also Philip, was then living in the bishop's palace in Lichfield cathedral close, and the present house at Brizlincote was evidently built for him. (fn. 13) The younger Philip died as earl at Bretby in 1726 and it seems that thereafter Brizlincote Hall estate was occupied by tenant farmers. Covering 295 a. in 1846, (fn. 14) it later passed to the earls of Carnarvon, who sold the 253-a. farm in 1921 to William Lomas of King Sterndale near Buxton (Derb.). His family remain the owners. (fn. 15)
Manor House and Hall It is not certain where the medieval manor house stood, but it might have been on the site of the present house which occupies the southern edge of a large, rectangular platform on top of a hill. Buildings north of the house are marked by earthworks, but they are not necessarily the remains of the 'large, stone house' that was demolished in or shortly after 1708. (fn. 16)
Brizlincote Hall, completed by 1712, (fn. 17a) is built of red brick with copious sandstone dressings on a square plan of five bays on the front (north-west) and rear (south-east) elevations and four bays on the sides. It has two main storeys with an attic and an upper attic, and the north and south elevations have a string course and rusticated quoins; the windows are variously furnished with triangular, segmental, and scrolled pediments. The cellars are lit by oval windows pierced through the rusticated and moulded stone plinth on which the house stands. The most striking architectural features are the giant segmental pediments that dominate the entire width of each elevation at the level of the first attic; behind the pediments, the lead roofs are broken by an upper attic with a hipped, tiled roof and panelled brick stacks. The architect is unknown, but the house has similarities with the later Bunny Hall in Nottinghamshire, designed by its idiosyncratic owner, Sir Thomas Parkyns. (fn. 18)
The front and rear elevations of Brizlincote each have a central doorway with eared architraves; console brackets support a canopy with a scrolled pediment above. Both doors have inscriptions dated 1714: over the north door (the main entrance) NON IGNARA MALI MISERIS SUCCERRERE DISCO ('No stranger to suffering I have learnt to aid the wretched'), and over the south door HOMO. HOMINIS. LUPUS ('Man is a wolf to man'). (fn. 1a) The inscriptions were possibly set up by Philip Dormer Stanhope, the future politician and wit (d. 1773), who presumably moved to Bretby immediately after his father succeeded as earl in 1714.
Internally, the house retains many primary features but also some later fixtures from the end of the 18th century when a service wing was added on the west side and other parts of the house were replanned; the rather cramped staircase dates from that period. On the first floor the original plan of a grande salle with direct access to corner chambers is still recognisable despite the later insertion of panels. Moulded wall panelling and doors survive from the early 18th century, and one room retains its primary coving, complete with cyma, drip, and egg-and-dart moulding.
The present lime-ash floors in the attic date from the late 18th century, as do the stud, rush, and plaster partition walls. Only one room seems to have been heated, and another room was used for storing cheese: it has a lattice door for ventilation and two cheese racks.
The main approach to the house was from the north-west through landscaped grounds. Stone piers survive at what was the central entrance to the main enclosure and an avenue of limes continues towards the house, which stands, however, slightly to the north of the axis. The house is now approached from the south-east through a courtyard which originally had a curved wall incorporating buildings. The coachhouse and stables on the south side of the yard were demolished in 1959, but a barn and cottage survive on the north side, although in a ruinous condition.
STAPENHILL PARISH TITHES
The tithes of Stapenhill parish were owned by Burton abbey as rector in the Middle Ages. A vicarage was ordained in the earlier 13th century, and in 1268 the bishop confirmed to the abbey the tithes of corn throughout the parish, as well as the tithe of hay and the small tithes from its demesne land. (fn. 2a)
There was a dispute over the tithes of Stanton and Newhall in the late 15th century, but the abbey's ownership was confirmed in 1488. (fn. 3a) In 1577, however, the tithes were sold by Lord Paget to Humphrey Dethick, lord of Newhall, and they passed on his death in 1599 to his daughter Katherine. (fn. 4a) The great tithes of Cauldwell also passed to its lords in the later 16th century. (fn. 5a) The Paget family, however, retained the great tithes of Stapenhill township and as impropriator the marquess of Anglesey received £147 when they were commuted in 1841. (fn. 6a)