Bradgate House - majestic house that was visited by royalty (Leicester Mercury
(click for Stable
Block - grand stables were a mark of
Earl's stature (Leicester Mercury article 2004))
Bradgate House in its heyday around
Readers of the Leicester Mercury continue
to respond to my request for information about the former Bradgate
house at Groby - recalled in an old photograph featured recently
on this page.
I now know the property - majestic in
both proportions and appearance - which was demolished in around
1926 had been built some 70 years earlier for George Harry Grey
(1827 - 1883) the Seventh Earl of Stamford and stood on a site
now occupied by Redland Aggregates offices the current
Bradgate house on the A50.
The photograph (above) comes from Mr
David F Thorpe, of Ulverscroft. The original house had a specially
constructed elaborate ornamental lake which must have provided
an outlook for many windows.
Mr Thorpe also sent me a very faded
copy of a photograph taken outside the house in January 1882.
It shows a shooting party which included the then Prince of Wales
- later Edward VII. Unfortunately the image is so feint it will
not reproduce here.
Mr Anthony Squires, of Cosby explains
the Seventh Earl of Stamford was a descendant of Thomas
Grey Second Marquis of Dorset (grandfather of Lady Jane Grey,
England's 'Nine Days Queen') who in the early 16th century built
the mansion which is now the familiar ruin in Bradgate Park.
"Bradgate House, Groby was just
one of the Seventh Earl's wild extravagances since at the same
time he was spending a fortune on the Turf," says Mr Squires.
When completed the house was described
as 'Calendar House' as it was said to have 365 windows, 52 rooms
and 12 main chimneys.
block alone built in mock Jacobean
style still standing but in a near ruined state
cost all of £30,000 which was an absolute fortune in those
Alas a house which was the Earl's pride
and joy would he comparatively short lived and meet an inglorious
end being sold for demolition in 1925.
Following the publication of the second
edition of their book on Bradgate Park Mr Squires (Tel. 116 2865278)
and his co-author and researcher Joan Stevenson are continuing
their long term study of the Greys.
"We would he pleased to hear from
anyone who has rnemories or memorabilia concerning the family
they would care to share with us and record for posterity,"
says Anthony Squires.
The new house was to replace the original
family seat at Bradgate Park that had been abandoned in the 18th
century for the estate at Enville in Staffordshire.
Commanded beautiful views
Miss L Clarke of Barrow-upon-Soar, sends
me this extract from the 1877 edition of White's Directory regarding
The Right Hon George Harry Grey, the
present Earl of Stamford and Warrington and Baron Grey of Groby,
was born in 1827 and succeeded his father in 1835 as Lord Grey.
He built a large and handsome mansion
here in 1856 called Bradgate House, in which he usually resides
during the hunting season. It is in the Elizabethan style of
architecture surrounded by extensive and tasteful pleasure grounds,
commanding beautiful views and distant about six miles WSW of
Leicester. The stables near it are very fine and have accommodation
for 50 horses.
Miss Clarke tells me that several years
ago when travelling from Markfield along the A 50 to Leicester
she spotted, through the trees on the left before reaching Groby,
the red brick ruins of a house and then found the inscription,
plus the house on the map in the book. She was delighted to see
a picture of the house in its heyday.
"We walked up Markfield Lane
and along a bridle-path which came out near the stable block
and I remember seeing fox hounds in kennels there".
Special Sunday School tea at Bradgate
Mention of Bradgate House, Groby when
it was occupied by the Everard family in the early decades of
the 1900s caused Mrs Christina (Nancy) Hopkins (nee Bland) to
search amongst her childhood souvenirs.
She found exactly what she was looking
for a photograph taken in around 1923-24 when she and
her best friend Ida Warrillow were in a party of youngsters from
All Saints Church Sunday School at Newtown Linford who went to
Bradgate House for a special tea.
The Sunday School tea recalled by Mrs Christina Hopkins.
The tea was served in the big house
(which sadly would be sold for demolition not too long afterwards)
and the out- standing memory of the occasion wasn't the sandwiches,
jellies and fancy cakes, but the fact a lady spoke to the children
through a microphone a contraption none of them had seen
It proved a great source of fascination
how something which looked like a box on the end of a
long stick could make her voice travel to the furthest corner
of the large room so that they could hear every word without
straining their ears.
As a child Mrs Hopkins the youngest
of nine also remembers going to Bradgate House to fetch
raspberries and other soft fruits grown in the kitchen gardens
there which her mother made into delicious jam. She was born
on Christmas Day 1916 and the family home was Rose Cottage, Main
Street, Newtown Linford across the road from where Mr
Talbot the Everard's chauffeur lived. "For a long time we
rented the cottage for a shilling a week which eventually went
up to two shillings. By the time I left there in 1954
married with twins the rent had reached four shillings
a week," she explains.
The other picture of Bradgate House
(above), sent in by a reader who prefers to remain anonymous,
shows a view of the house from a different angle to the original