What a Manor! by Dr. D. A. C. McNeil
One of the properties of the Shuttlewood-Clarke Foundation is hidden away behind a small wood, looking out over the countryside of Charnwood Forest. To look at Ulverscroft Manor, as we now know it, one may think it is the country seat of a gentleman, perhaps from a wealthy family, built perhaps in the late 18th or early 19th centuries. Its history should be well documented and its ownership recorded in some detail. To write a history should be, to coin a phrase, child’s play.
It was indeed part of the Ulverscroft estate, named after the Priory which was bought by Sir Edward Griffin about 1565, some time prior to 1569, when he died. The estate consisted of 4 farms, 2 small holdings, 2 lodges, 3 cottages, a blacksmith’s shop and several woodlands. And a brief history was written of the house several years ago. The sad thing is – many of the facts do not agree with the records on the web.
So, to start with the history; Mr Pares owned the property in about 1870; he was succeeded by Luke Lillington at the turn of the century, who was reportedly killed on the Somme in the first world war, thought on my copy of the history this has been crossed out. His wife committed suicide after their only son was killed in action in France in 1944. The estate was auctioned off in lots, and several owners later the manor was bought by the Shuttlewood-Clarke Foundation in 1990. It was the Foundation which gave the name ‘Manor’ to what had, up till then, been known as Ulverscroft Cottage.
Thomas Pares was born to John, hosier and banker, and his wife Agnes on 30th October 1790. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College Cambridge, was a member of Lincolns Inn in 1808 and called to the bar in 1818. From 1818 till 1826 he was an M.P. in the Whig interest, between 1845 and 1846 he was Sherriff of Derbyshire, and was the owner of the Ulverscroft estate, nominally living in Ulverscroft cottage which he had had built from the 1830’s till his death in April 1866. This, of course, is not the whole story – to start with, parts of the cottage are reputed to be over 300 years old – it may be more accurate to say that he had the cottage rebuilt. In 1851 the family was at Hopwell Hall, Shardlow, Derbyshire on election night. The census returns do not give any further details. In 1871 his widow, Octavia, was living in Bridport in Dorset with her daughter and granddaughter, and in 1881 she was in Ventnor, Isle of Wight. She died and was buried in Derbyshire on 17th June 1881.
Puzzle number 2: Lillingston. It seems that a John Henry Eddowes 48
bought Burleigh Fields House from George William Johnson, formerly Lillingston, in 1867 when that gentleman moved to an estate at Ulverscroft. There is some confusion here. It would seem by the wording that George William succeeded to the estate, and changed his name on doing so. Why? Whatever the motive, thereafter he was known as Lillingston-Johnson. Records show, however, that his daughter Evelyn seems to have reverted to Lillingston when she married Eustace Vansittart in 1892.
His son does not appear to be named Luke – William George Lillingston, born in 1865 in Loughborough, was a retired captain in H M Royal Juste Rifles; when the 1911 census was taken he was living with his wife – Olive Theodora nee Doxat, in Hove in Sussex with Luke Theodore, their son. Further, and just to confirm matters, there is no record of W.E.G. Lillingston of 29th Lancers being killed in the first world war. The son, however, was killed in the second world war when, 11th August 1944, a shell hit the turret of a tank in which he was travelling in the Basse-Normandie region of France. His will left an estate of just over £117,511.50 which was divided between his wife, Margaret Trelawney Lillingston, whom he married on 14th July 1934, and George Anson, a retired army colonel. Olive would not have been able to commit suicide at this point – records suggest that she died in Richmond (Surrey) late in 1932. He had a step-son, Bill Harrington, who seems to have been killed about the same time he was.
Puzzle number 3; in 1944 the estate passes out of the Pares family! True, in 1946 the estate was divided into 21 lots, and the Ulverscroft cottage was purchased by person(s) unrecorded. True, in 1990 the Shuttlewood-Clarke Foundation purchased the property, renamed it the Ulverscroft Manor, and uses it for charitable purposes. But what is the connection between Pares and Lillingston, renamed Johnson, if any? Delving back into the early 1800’s George William appears, first, in Buckinghamshire where he was born, then Ramsgate at the age of 6, and finally in Norwich as a scholar. There seems to have been no common factor with a business magnate from Leicestershire.
So, either the potted history is wrong, or I am; which is it?
P.S. Please to note that access to Ulverscroft Manor is by invitation only. If you would like to find out more about the charitable work at the foundation, please visit the web-site; www.shuttlewood-clarke.org or call Helen Baxter on; 01530 244914.