The planets must have been aligning.... at Waingroves Hall.
Greg Strelley a distant cousin sent me a message the day before our visit to Derbyshire. Could we delay our departure from Derby and stay an extra morning? He wanted to show us something.
Waingroves Hall was being auctioned and there was to be an open for inspection while we were there. Waingroves Hall is situated in Codnor Denby Lane in Ripley and was certainly on our “to do” list. I envisaged a trip up the farm roads and a few snaps over the fence.
How special on this trip from Australia to actually see inside the ancestral home of my 4x great grandparents Robert and Elizabeth Strelley situated in the Derbyshire mining town of Waingroves.
Waingroves has been known in many ways throughout history. The earliest name being Waingrif or Waingriff in 1147. Later it was Wayngriff, Wayngreve or Wayngrene in the 1400s as well as Wingreayes. Today this Derbyshire mining area is known as Waingroves with the land divided into a Waingroves Hall and Waingroves Farm. The land had had a long history. In 1147 Ralph Fitz Stephen bestowed lands in Waingroves in the parish of Pentrich to the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem They were to use the house which would be built.
Our family connections with the land come through the Claytons and the Strelleys.
Waingroves Hall and the surrounding farm was initially put up for Richard(2), son of Richard Clayton(1) of Codnor Breach, who died around 1697. It was severely damaged by fire in the early 1700s. The property seems to have been inherited by his granddaughter, Elizabeth who was eldest daughter of Richard(3) Clayton and Elizabeth Lee. Richard had died in 1782.
Robert Strelley had married Elizabeth Clayton in 1768. It was Robert Strelley who was responsible for the building of the present Waingroves Hall in the late 1700s. It is assumed this house was built from the ground up over the top of the old Elizabethan/Jacobean original Clayton House.
This rectangular three storied, six bedroomed Georgian country house is reached by way of a long shared driveway. Its symmetrical facade is typical of Georgian architecture with its panelled windows. There are two gables at either end of this roughly square house. The entrance front upper floor windows have rusticated key blocks carved with sun, moon, owls and the arms of Strelley.
|Waingroves Hall - side view|
Back on that sunny August day in 2014, armed with notebooks and cameras five Strelley descendants entered the Grade II heritage listed house and took a once in a lifetime “good old look around” at this stylish old Georgian country house once inhabited by Robert Strelley and his family.
It is set in woodland gardens of approximately two acres with the gardens and lawn to the south and east. The gardens, although largely overgrown show signs of feature lawns and remnants of an orchard. The large areas of secluded woodland have many mature trees and shrubs and there is a small lake. The trees and lake are brimming with birds and wild life. Behind the house are the Waingroves Farm and a small farm cottage across the drive which probably housed the servants All originally part of the Robert’s estate.
|Woodland and lake|
|One of the property's mature trees|
We approach through the circular driveway. A symmetrical red brick building with brick and stone dressings stands majestically. There are initials on the lintels referring to Robert and Elizabeth “SRE 1791” and a diamond shaped date stone above the door inscribed S with an R and E 1800.
There are remnants of some of the ornamentation in the garden. At first thought to be foundations of famous obelisk under which Robert is said to have buried his horse Monument. It’s deemed not to be the obelisk base but the semi hidden ornament however has Robert’s initial carved in it so that builds the excitement. Being the site of the old medieval manor house of the Knights Hospitallers we have hopes of finding an overlooked foundation or even some remains of the house built in 1690.
At one point we enlist the help of the gardener’s granddaughter who was very familiar with the house and land to see if she knew of any other secrets in the garden.
So what was inside this three storied six bedroomed spacious and previously stylish Georgian house?
Sadly it was emptied of all signs of family love and care. It has clearly been vacant for some time. Although it has some recent renovations namely in late 18th century and around the 1970s it looks a little forlorn and just a tad water damaged. It is solid enough with its three reception rooms, kitchen, utility rooms and its three bedrooms on each of two floors, both with bathrooms.
One non Georgian addition is a windowed entrance porch which Greg says is a tastefully done Victorian addition C1880-90. Beyond that the reception hall with wood block floor, leads to stairs off to first floor and an archway leads to a rear hall, cellar access and a cloak area. Greg Strelley and his distant cousin Richard Kuchnowski are itching to explore the cellar for hints of the previous building foundations and land use.
|Stairs down to the cellar|
Although they couldn’t see much on that day Richard and Greg returned another day with torches. Said Greg of the findings “It was evident from our inspection with torches the main front was constructed c1790 on the original Elizabethan/Jacobean foundations and cellars. There are stones in the foundations that are truly ancient and look to date from the medieval period circa 1150-1200 judging by the method of carving. These stones have been re-used at some time in the period from 1600-1700, so are probably surviving stones from the original Hospitalliers building that were incorporated into the new house when the cellars were built or were enlarged from their original size. The cellars are built of barrel-vaulted bricks with large areas of stonework to the walls. There are no surviving areas of original medieval stonework that we were able to identify, so we assume the cellars and hence the footprint of the house was increased which led to removal of the old house foundations. There are some paving slabs and steps that are truly enormous and very worn. It is amazing to think of the amount of feet that have travelled over them over the last 800 years.......”
Also on the ground floor are a sitting room (18’2” x 16’3”) with shuttered windows and a feature fireplace. In addition there is a dining room (17’8” x 16’3”) with shuttered windows, a fireplace recess and full height cupboard and a drawing room (17’8” x 15’10”) with two shuttered windows and feature fireplace. A laundry room and pantry added to the main building around 1850 was probably added during the time that other Strelley residents lived there.
The uneven dark stained wooden stairs lead to galleried landings on each floor which makes a dramatic centre-point to the house. I could visualise Robert and Elizabeth’s portraits hanging on the landing or then again they may have been pride of place in the other public areas of the house.
|Restored portrait of Elizabeth Strelley nee Clayton|
Because of its empty status we can freely explore the bedrooms with their cupboards and nooks. The 6 bedrooms are roughly the same size around 17’6” by 15’ with original fireplaces and shuttered windows. Each room had assorted recesses, display shelves and cupboards. One has a walk in dressing room.
|Kym Strelley inspects the interior|
Kym Strelley and I try to envisage who slept where and we throw open the cupboards and drawers looking for signs of things past. Modern inclusions such as pipe work for central heating radiators sort of spoil the Georgian feel. Out of the windows I see the farm buildings. Robert would have looked out these windows and checked on his prized vegetables and stock. Robert and Elizabeth also built the little cottage based on the date stone set in the gable end dated 1795 and initialled R and E.
|Views of the farm from upstairs window|
I’ll never forget that day. A few of the prospective buyers and interested parties stop to discuss the property’s history and Greg is in his element extolling the great Strelley name in the district. Outside the gates we stop and talk to the farmer who currently rents the farm. More discussion and speculation! Greg says he’d really like to get a look at a monument supposedly inside a nearby condemned farm building which houses more tokens of Robert’s involvement in the construction. It’s OK to look from the outside but inside is out of bounds.
We sweet talk the farmer who volunteers to take a few snaps of the stone plaque ensconced inside the run down brick barn. YES! Richard and Greg discuss the finds.
Robert and Eliz Strelley
She was one of the
The two Dau.s of X
Richard Clayton of
The Breach Cent: ) X
Erected this building
What I will also treasure are the two framed prints of Robert and Elizabeth Strelley presented to me by Richard. My own little souvenir of my trip to Strelley, Nottingham and Derbyshire too see the Strelleys.... that and my snapshots of Waingroves.
After Richard Clayton Strelley sold the property others have been custodians of the land. The Codnor and District Local History and Heritage Website details other residents. Thomas Farnsworth lived there around 1912. Later in the 1920’s Col.H.J.A. Banks, then S Camplion Wright and Capt. Thomas Grieve took up residence. During Laurie MC’s ownership he indicated that buried remains of an earlier building existed beneath the front garden.
Another owner who also took a keen interest in the history of the hall was Dr. Gerald and Margaret FitzMaurice Keatinge. Doctor Keating was doctor to the Butterley Company and he suggested that the current building was possibly the third or fourth incarnation of the hall. The hall was later owned by a Mr & Mrs Lloyd, and sold for £68000 in 1982 to Mr and Mrs Philips. The Hall has been vacant for some time.
The house has an unbelievably low guide price of 150,000 pounds. My husband says we can buy it even though we are only here on holidays.... but we have to win Powerball first. I’m sorely tempted and pray for a win.
On auction day we wait with baited breath to hear the fate of our ancestor’s home which I’ve come to think of as Robert and Elizabeth’s love nest. The property went for much more than the guide price. In a touching gesture Greg wrote a short note to congratulate the new owners and to explain how important this property is to the Strelleys.
The auction on September 11 2014 had a good feel about it. I have a good feeling that the delighted buyers know just how special this country home is and will faithfully restore it.
|Richard Kuchnowski, Robyn Ford, Kym Strelley and Greg Strelley outside Waingroves Hall|
Note: There are many more photos taken on this day. Please contact me if you require more information.Contact me