WILLIAM COOPER 1936
Sir Edward Joseph Smythe, Bt., who was born 3 Aug. 1787 and whose birth is recorded in Wootton Wawen Parish Register. He married Frances, daughter of Sir Edward Bellew of Barmeath, on 23 Oct. 1809. In 1831 he was High Sheriff of Shropshire, and he died 11 May 1856. He seems to have divided his time between Wootton and Acton Burnell. On the banks of Wootton Pool, a large lake at the rear of the Hall, there was formerly a loop-
His son, Sir (Charles) Frederick Smythe, Bt., who was born 16 Mar. 1819, and married on 17 Oct. 1855 the Hon. Mary Stonor, next succeeded to the estates. He, like his father, was High Sheriff of Shropshire in 1867, and during his ownership of Wootton the Hall was frequently let. On 14 April 1880 Sir (Charles) Frederick Smythe sold the manor and estate of Beaudesert to the father of the present owner, Mr. Samuel Kington Cattell. At Sir Frederick’s death on 14 Nov. 1897 the Wootton estate was divided and a portion of it passed to his brother, Sir (John) Walter Smythe, Bt., while the Hall with the surrounding land was left to his widow, who gave it to their daughter Mary Frances, wife of Mr. Oscar Henry Blount, of Windsor. Mrs. Blount let the Hall as her father had done, and towards the close of last century Capt. H. L. Wickham was in residence. Later it was occupied by Mr. George J. Eveson until Mrs. Blount sold it in 1904 to Mr. George Henry Capewell Hughes, of Birmingham, with that part of the estate which surrounds it. Mr. Hughes died in 1906, and his widow sold the Hall with the Pool and a portion of the estate, in 1912, to the present owner, Mr. Robert Darley Guinness, who now resides there. Mr. Guinness was High Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1924.
To his son, Mr. Richard Smythe Guinness, the writer is indebted for some of the information about the Hall contained in a following chapter. The Smythes no longer hold any land in Wootton.
Wootton Hall, a mansion of considerable size, is situated very pleasantly among trees, well back from the main road and not far from the Church, with a small park in front and an extensive lake at the rear called Wootton Pool. Prior to 1906 there was an iron hurdle fence and retaining wall between the park and the main road. The view of the Hall from the road was then one of great charm, it being near enough for passers-
The house as it stands is of Italian design and built of stone, mainly in 1687, with a finely carved oak cornice attributed to Grinling Gibbons. Its principal front, which faces south, has a projecting bay in the centre surmounted by a large triangular pediment containing the arms in oak of Francis, second Lord Carington impaled with those of his second wife, Lady Anne Herbert: three lions rampant. Crest : a peacock’s head ducally gorged. Supporters: Dexter, a man-
The Dining Room, formerly called the White Room from the white paint (this has only recently been removed by Mr. R. D. Guinness) which covered its panelling, was for some time prior to the building of the Chapel in 1813 used as a chapel within the house for the family, and for other Roman Catholics, who entered through a door from the grounds. Previous to this, the building at the rear of the house (now the laundry) was used for divine service. It has a cross on the brick-
The chapel in the White Room was dismantled when the Roman Catholic Chapel was built in 1813 by Catherine, Lady Smythe (née Holford), two years after her husband died, at a cost of ￡4,000. This building, which is of red brick in the Italian style of architecture, is 80 feet long, 30 Wide, and 32 feet high to the crown of the arched ceiling. It was opened in 1814 for divine service and dedicated to SS. Mary and Benedict. According to Hannett the interior was of an ornate character. The roof was divided into compartments for decoration and the east window was filled with stained glass. The altar, of fine marble, was sculptured at and brought from Rome, and the tabernacle was carved out of a solid piece of Carrara marble and surrounded by coloured marble pillars with gilt capitals. The pulpit was Grecian, the gift (in 1853) of the Rev. P. J. Hewitt, a former priest. There was a small organ of fine tone, constructed mainly by the Rev. Dom. Benedict Deday, O.S.B., who was chaplain there from 1806 till 1845, and who died on 7 Nov., 1845. When Mr. Hughes bought the Hall in 1904, the long period of Roman Catholic ownership came to an end and the Chapel was turned into a music room. The sacred ornaments were removed to the new Church on the hill near the Railway Station, and the bodies of persons buried were also translated there. Mr. Hughes contributed liberally towards the building of this Church, which is dedicated to Our Blessed Lady and St. Benedict.
Mr. Wilfrid F. Tempest of Ackworth, Yorkshire, who was living at the Hall during his father’s tenancy of it (which began in 1860 and lasted five years until his death) and for two years longer with his mother (who stayed on until the lease expired in 1867), has kindly given the writer some interesting details relating to those days. Mr. Tempest says that when they went there the old oak panelling in the house was painted white all over, and even down to the frame of a picture (this carved frame, attributed to Grinling Gibbons, was sold in 1904) in the library, which was carved in willow. On one side of this picture hung a pheasant among flowers, with wings extended -
‘About the end of June, 1861, when the workmen were pulling down the old Dairy at the Hall, two skeletons (a man and woman) were found in a hole 2 feet 6 inches long, 1 foot 6 inches deep, and 1 foot 6 inches wide, and about 16 or 18 inches below the floor near the end next to the Chapel. By the size of the bones the man must have been 6 1/2 feet high -
The cutting from the paper adds that the skeletons were in a doubled-
At about the same time, Mr. William Keyte, who was bailiff of the estate, found in an attic a small box containing what was evidently a human heart, and it is thought this may have been the heart of the first Lord Carington, who was murdered at Pontoise, which was always said to have been preserved at Wootton. Mr. Tempest further informed the writer that many people said there was a ghost in the Hall, but that it never troubled him. A little fox-
Not the least interesting feature at Wootton Hall is the subterranean passage, access to which is gained from the cellars. It is about 300 feet long and large enough for easy walking to a point near where the old main road passed over it and where a shrubbery is said to have formerly existed. What appears to be a branch-
At the rear of the Hall are the remains of what appears to be an earlier residence, now turned into outbuildings, and it seems that this was originally the manor house of the Staffords. It was not their principal residence and was probably occupied by their steward, except when they visited it at certain seasons of the year. Near by is a dovecot, the lower portion being ancient and built of stone, the upper part half-
In conclusion, it is a pleasure to observe with what tender care this old English home is treated by the present owner and his family.