Major the Hon. Anthony Wills Buys Middle Hill House, April 1952

In April 1952, Major the Hon. Frederick Anthony Hamilton Wills, heir to Lord Dulverton of Batsford Park, purchased Middle Hill House and 1,100 acres of land on Broadway Hill.

Middle Hill had previously been owned by the sisters Lucy Miller Hingley and Emily Georgina Hingley who moved to Broadway shortly after the end of the First World War. Lucy Hingley died in 1942 and Emily Hingley in February 1946. By the terms of Miss Emily Hingley’s will (which amounted to £311,922 gross), Middle Hill was to be offered to the Friends of the Poor and if they were not willing to accept the bequest then to the Homes of Rest for Gentlewomen of the Church of England with a request that the house be known as The Hingley House of Rest. However, the Friends of the Poor declined to accept the property because of the huge cost of repairs needed to be spent on the house and ancillary buildings, and following a hearing at the Chancery Division in December 1951, it was decided that the gift had failed and declared that Miss Hingley had died intestate. Broadway Tower and the surrounding fields, also part of Miss Hingley’s estate, were bequeathed to the National Trust.

Following his purchase of the house and land, Wills was granted a £500 licence by Evesham Rural District Council to carry out the extensive repairs to make the house habitable. Wills was married with four children and lived at the house for many years returning the surrounding land to productive farmland.

Born on 19 December 1915, Wills was educated at Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford. During the Second World War, Wills served with the Lovatt Scouts. He was an enthusiast about fieldcraft and was one of the Army’s leading experts on sniping. He founded and was chief instructor at a sniping wing at the War Office Advanced Handling and Fieldcraft School in North Wales. He gained the rank of Major in 1944 in the Royal Artillery. He succeeded as the 2nd Baron Dulverton, of Batsford, and 3rd Baronet Willow of Northmoor, Somerset, on 1 December 1956. Wills served as a Master of the North Cotswold Hunt for 8 years, resigning in 1960. He was appointed Commander, Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1974. He died on 7 February 1992 at the age of 76.

 

 

The 1826 History of Middle Hill and Broadway by Sir Thomas Phillipps

Buried amongst 2,000 boxes of Phillipps’ papers in the Bodleian Old Library in Oxford are some unpublished local history notes. Local historian, David Ella, has transcribed The 1826 History of Middle Hill and Broadway written by Sir Thomas Phillipps (see link below).

Phillipps (1792-1872) was the greatest collector of books and manuscripts of the 19th century, and a prolific letter writer, keeping copies of his drafts and all manner of correspondence.

To read the article click on the link below:

Broadway & Middle Hill History by Sir Thomas Phillipps 1826

 

February’s Talk: Monday 21st February 2022 – 500 Years of Broadway Maps

Next Meeting: Monday 21st February 2022 – 500 Years of Broadway Maps

Our next meeting will take place on Monday 21st February starting at 7pm in the Lifford Memorial Hall. The Society looks forward to welcoming back David Ella as our speaker with his illustrated talk entitled 500 Years of Broadway Maps.

During David’s talk we will be looking at a wide range of maps which include Broadway, created from the 1570s through to 2020. While interesting and attractive in themselves the maps will be used to try and resolve some unanswered historical questions about Broadway and Broadway Hill.  We will look at old county maps, and also unpublished estate maps for Middle Hill, Spring Hill, and the Countess of Gainsborough’s estates in Chipping Campden, which ran to the top of Broadway Hill. Amongst other things, we will look at the engineer’s diagram for the 1820’s roadworks on Broadway Hill, alongside an angry letter from Sir Thomas Phillipps who provided the land.  We will find out why Broadway is in Worcestershire, why Five Mile Drive is only two miles long, and finally try and resolve how Colonel Lygon displayed the Battle of Waterloo at his Spring Hill estate,  just beyond Broadway Tower.  Closer to the village we will look at the “Haunted House”, and understand why one of the houses in the High Street lies at 45 degrees to the road – with the help of the Broadway Enclosure Map.

There will be a table display of original 17th and 18th century maps which can be viewed either before or after David’s talk.

Hand sanitiser and masks will be available. The Comittee will set out the chairs prior to the start of the meeting but please feel free to move them if you would prefer to sit in a different location in the hall. In line with current guidance we will leave the doors to the hall open until just before the start of the talk to allow as much fresh air into the hall prior to the start of the meeting. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the committee.

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

Next Meeting: Monday 21st October – Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bt (1792-1872)

Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872)

On Monday 21st October the Broadway History Society looks forward to welcoming Gerard Molyneux, the great great great grandson of Sir Thomas Phillipps to give a talk entitled Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bt (1792-1872) on his eccentric bibliophile relative who lived at Middle Hill and established a printing press in Broadway Tower.

Sir Thomas Phillipps lived at Middle Hill, Broadway, moving to Thirlestaine House in Cheltenham in 1863 where he resided until his death on 6th February 1872. Sir Thomas is buried in the family vault in the churchyard at St Eadburgha’s Church alongside Lady Phillipps and his father Thomas Phillipps. The Cheltenham Chronicle reported on Sir Thomas’s funeral a few days later:

The funeral arrangements were entrusted to Messrs. Shirer and Haddon, and carried out in a simple manner. The funeral cortege left Thirslestaine House early in the morning in the following order: The undertakers, Messrs. Shirer & Haddon of Cheltenham, hearse drawn by four horses; 1st carriage, the Rev. J. Walcott1, Rev. J. Fenwick2 and Mr Fenwick and the Rev. J.H. Cardew3 of Cheltenham, sons-in-law and grandson of the deceased; 2nd carriage, Mr A. Walker, solicitor, Mr. W. Smith, solicitor, Mr W. Lawrence4 and Mr Gale5; 3rd carriage, Rev. W. Phillipps (Buckland), Mr E. Phillipps and Mr C. Phillipps (Broadway); 4th carriage, Mr. W. Phillipps, Mr G. Phillipps (Buckland) and Mr John Phillipps (Broadway); Thomas Holloway and James Rogers6, servants of the deceased, followed. The coffin which was of polished oak, had a brass plate, with the following inscription: Thomas Phillipps, Bt., F.R.S, J.P., D.L., died 6th February, 1872, aged 79 years. There were eight bearers , tenants of the deceased. About 800 people were present, amongst whom were many tenants of the Hon. Baronet.

After Sir Thomas’s burial, the wake was held at the Lygon Arms Hotel, Broadway. As Sir Thomas had no male heirs the baronetcy became extinct. Sir Thomas’s youngest daughter, Katharine, inherited Thirlestaine House and the contents of his library of some 60,000 volumes. His eldest daughter, Henrietta7, who had fallen out with her father after her marriage to James Orchard Halliwell (1820-1899), inherited Middle Hill, Broadway.

Gerard’s talk on Sir Thomas Phillipps on Monday 21st October will take place in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Lower Green, Broadway, starting at 7pm. Non-members welcome, £3 on the door.

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

 

Notes:
1. Rev. John Walcot was married to Sir Thomas Phillipps’s second daughter, Maria Sophia Bampfylde Phillipps who died in 1858.
2. Rev. John Edward Addison Fenwick, Vicar of Needwood and son-in-law of Sir Thomas Phillipps. He was married to Sir Thomas’s youngest daughter, Katharine Somerset Wyttenbach Phillipps.
3. Rev. John Hayden Cardew was the Chaplain of Cheltenham General Hospital and one of the Executors of Sir Thomas Phillipps’s will.
4. Walter Lawrence of Sevenhampton.
5. Samuel Higgs Gale, of Charlton Kings, an Executor of Sir Thomas’s will.
6. James Rogers of the printers Rogers and Sons.
7. Henrietta Elizabeth Molyneux Halliwell-Phillipps died in 1879 following a riding accident in 1872.

A Brief History of Broadway Tower

Earl Coventry Builds a Beacon Tower above Broadway

The site of Broadway Tower was common land until about 1771. The enclosure of Common land granted this to Sir George William, the 6th Earl of Coventry, who owned nearby Spring Hill House as well as Croome Court in Pershore.

In October 1797, Admiral Duncan, later Earl Camperdown, won a naval victory over the Dutch at Camperdown (north of Haarlem). In celebration a bonfire was lit on Broadway Beacon Hill with fireworks and other events organised by Thomas Coventry, youngest son of Lord Coventry. The Countess of Coventry was so impressed that she persuaded Lord Coventry to erect a tower there. Plans for an ornamental folly were initially discussed with Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (who had designed the parkland surrounding Spring Hill) and the project was completed in 1799 by the architect James Wyatt after Brown’s death. The 65 foot Beacon Tower with its saxon castle design stands at 1024 feet above sea-level, the highest little castle in the Cotswolds.

Sir Thomas Phillipps and the Broadway Printing Press

Following the 6th Earl’s death, John Coventry, his second son, inherited the Tower and surrounding land.  In the 1820s it was sold to the eccentric bibliophile Sir Thomas Phillipps who owned the nearby Middle Hill Estate. Thomas used the Tower from 1827 to house his printing press but during his ownership he neglected the building and it fell into disrepair.

In 1837 the vantage point of Broadway Tower was again used as a site for a Beacon Bonfire. On 20th June 1837, Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, an evening procession from the village ended with a bonfire at Broadway Beacon, one of 2,548 bonfires lit across the country to celebrate the Jubilee.

Gloves and Famous Visitors

Thomas Phillipps ceased to use the Tower after his move to Cheltenham in 1863. It is recorded that the Tower was used by glove makers for a while before 1866 when Cormell Price took out a lease on the building as a holiday home for himself and his friends. The location of the Tower with its wonderful views attracted many visitors including the English artist and designer Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. It is believed that in 1876 William Morris wrote a letter from Broadway Tower which led to the formation of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings by William Morris and Philip Webb in 1877. Cormell Price, known affectionately by his friends as the ‘Knight of Broadway Tower’, and the Stanley family, reluctantly left the Tower after 11 years when Cormell gave up his tenancy in September 1878, after the death of Thomas Phillipps.

The Tower during the Second World War

imagesAbout 1930, still under the ownership of the Middle Hill Estate, the Hollington family moved in as tenant famers. Mr and Mrs Hollington brought up their family there, cooking on a portable stove and climbing the winding stairs by candlelight as there was no electric light or gas. During the Second World War, whilst tenanted by Mr Hollington (who had joined the Observer Corps), the Tower was used as a look out post to map enemy aircraft.

On 2nd June 1943, a Whitley bomber on a training mission from Honeybourne airfield, crashed next to the tower in poor visibility. The crew: Pilot HG Hagen, Sgt EG Ekins, Flt Sgt DH Kelly, Sgt DA Marriott and Sgt RS Phillips all lost their lives in the crash.

Broadway Tower and the Royal Observation Corps

Broadway Tower remained part of the Middle Hill Estate until 1949 when on the death of Miss Emily Georgina Hingley it was offered to the National Trust as a gift. The Trust declined and the Tower subsequently passed to the Dulverton Batsford Estates when it was rescued by the Hon. Frederick Anthony Wills, 2nd Baron Dulverton of Batsford (1915-1992).

In 1950, following the Second World War, a new above ground concrete slab observation post, known as an Orlit A, was built. It was a very basic structure consisting of two small, separate rooms, equipped with little more than a telephone line that connected the men that manned the post to the regional control centre.

During the ‘Cold War’, a secret Royal Observer Corps nuclear bunker was built in 1961 approximately 180 metres from the Tower. As part of a larger network of 1,653 bunkers around the country, it served as an early warning system – built to study the effects of radioactive fallout from a nuclear attack. It was manned continuously from 1961, up until it’s decommissioning in 1991 at the end of the Cold War. The bunker has since been restored and is open to the public on certain weekends of the year.

Broadway Tower Today

300px-Broadway_Tower_2012During Lord Dulverton’s ownership the land surrounding the Tower was developed in to a Country Park with its own herd of red deer and the Tower was converted in to a Museum.

The grounds and the Tower, with its wonderful views across up to 16 counties, are now in the ownership of the Will family and are open to the public most days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bt (1792-1872) and the Middle Hill Estate, Broadway

Unknown
Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872)

Sir Thomas Phillipps, collector of the largest collection of privately owned books in the world, was born at 32 Cannon Street, Manchester, on 2nd July 1792. He was baptised later the same month in Manchester Cathedral. Thomas was the son of Thomas Phillipps, senior partner of Phillipps, Lowe and Company, calico manufacturers and printers of Cannon Street, Manchester. Thomas’s mother, Hannah Judd (née Walton), from Yorkshire, played no part in his upbringing. Although Thomas spent the first few years of his life in Manchester.

Thomas’s paternal grandparents lived near Broadway. His grandfather, William Phillipps, who had been born in London in 1700, farmed several hundred acres in the area surrounding Broadway, Childswickham and Buckland. William’s father, John, had been renting farmland in the area from Lord Coventry since 1706. Thomas’s grandmother, Mary (née Cotterell), was born in 1713, the only daughter of Edward Cotterell of Saintbury. William died in 1771 and wife, Mary, died in 1800. Mary is buried in the churchyard at St Barnabas Church, Snowshill, Gloucestershire.

The Middle Hill Estate, Broadway

Middle-Hill-House
Middle Hill, Broadway

When Thomas’s father retired in 1794 he purchased Middle Hill, Broadway, a large house, built in 1724, set in several hundred of acres above the village beneath Broadway Tower. The family moved in to the Middle Hill estate in 1796 where the young Thomas started his collection of books. Thomas spent all of his pocket money on books and by the age of six had already collected over 110 books.

Thomas was firstly educated by Richard Careless, school teacher of Broadway. He went on to Rugby School before studying at University College, Oxford, for four years obtaining his BA in 1815. It was at Oxford that Thomas continued to collect rather than merely research and catalogue old books and manuscripts. His hobby proved to be expensive in both time and money. Thomas needed a private tutor to help him prepare for examinations and although he was given access to an annual income of £6000 upon the death of his father on 1st November 1818, the Middle Hill estate was left in trust so that it could not be sold to further expand Thomas’s growing collection.

In 1819 Thomas married Henrietta Elizabeth Molyneux, third daughter of Major General Thomas Molyneux and they had three daughters, Henrietta (born 1819), Sophia (1821) and Katharine (1829). In 1820 Thomas was elected a fellow of the Royal Society and made a baronet in the following year in the George IV Honours aided by his father-in-law’s association with the Duke of Beaufort. In 1825 Thomas was elected High Sheriff of Worcestershire, a post his father had held in 1801.

Middle Hill printing press Thomas Phillipps
Thomas Phillipps’s Broadway Tower Printing Press

From 1822, Thomas started to copy, commission and print transcripts of historical documents and following his purchase of Broadway Tower in 1827, he established a private printing press at Broadway Tower. Publications printed on the Broadway Tower press often carry a stencilled crest of a lion with ‘Sir T. P. /Middle Hill’ and the manuscript number added by hand below. Thomas’s obsession with books and manuscripts meant that from this point onwards he was in debt for the rest of his life. To cut costs he was forced to move to Europe (between 1822-1829), yet this enabled him to have access to manuscripts of leading continental scholars, for example, Gerard Meerman, the Dutch typographic historian (1722-1771), and it did little to curb Thomas’s spending habits.

In 1839 Thomas became acquainted with James Orchard Halliwell, a young undergraduate and Shakespearean scholar who had written to him requesting historical information. In exchange for an examination of the Cambridge libraries, Thomas printed a catalogue of scientific manuscripts that had been assembled by Halliwell and invited him to stay at Middle Hill in 1842. There, James Halliwell fell in love with Thomas’s eldest daughter Henrietta and despite initially agreeing a dowry James and Thomas fell out. The young couple were forced to elope and they married in August 1842. Thomas never forgave his daughter. He shunned numerous attempts at reconciliation with the couple and chose to criticise and deny his son-in-law at every opportunity.

Thomas’s first wife, Henrietta, died in 1832, aged 37. In 1848 he secondly married Elizabeth Harriet Anne Mansel, daughter of the Reverend William Mansel (Rector of Eldesborough, Buckinghamshire, and the son of Sir William Mansel, Bt). Thomas continued to expand his collection of books and manuscripts which attracted scholars from all over the world to Middle Hill including the American historians William H Prescott and Jared Sparks, the American painter and author George Catlin and the English born Australian landscape artist John Glover (Thomas was a patron of John Glover and George Catlin).

The Move to Thirlestaine House in Cheltenham

Throughout the 1850s Thomas became preoccupied with what should happen to his collection after his death which by then took up 16 of the 20 rooms at Middle Hill. He had so little room in his bedroom that he slept for many years on a sofa in the drawing room and the dining room was kept locked except for mealtimes. Discussions held with Oxford University fell through when Thomas proposed in return that he should become chief librarian of the Bodleian Library. In 1861, he accepted an invitation to become a trustee of the British Museum but he then refused them access to the collection when his recommendations for improvements at the Museum were not adopted. The Middle Hill estate remained promised to Henrietta despite her marriage, yet Thomas was adamant that his collection would not be inherited by her husband, James.

Thomas moved to Thirlestaine House in Cheltenham (now owned by Cheltenham College) in 1863 which also gave him more space to house his collection. It took two years, 230 horses and 160 men to transport the 60,000 manuscripts and 30,000 books to the new site where he continued to collect, catalogue and entertain leading academics until his death on 6th February 1872. His wife, Elizabeth, also died the same year.

Thomas was buried in the churchyard at St Eadburga’s Church, Snowshill Road, Broadway. Thirlestaine House and its contents, including 60,000 manuscripts and 50,000 printed books, were left in trust for his youngest daughter, Katherine, with a life interest for her third son, Thomas Fitzroy Fenwick. The Halliwell family and all Roman Catholics were to be banned from entering the library which was to remain intact. However, by 1885, the Fenwicks could no longer afford to maintain the house and collection and so acquired judicial approval to disperse its contents. Manuscripts were sold in groups to private collectors and foreign governments and there were a series of auctions at Sotheby’s. In 1946, the remaining collection was acquired by Lionel and Philip Robinson, antiquarian booksellers of London, who continued to disperse the manuscripts at further auctions at Sotheby’s and through their own retail catalogues. Between 1977-1983, they sold what was left of their holdings to H.P. Kraus, dealers of New York.

Talk on Sir Thomas Phillipps, Monday 21st October in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Broadway

On Monday 21st October 2019, the Society looks forward to welcoming Gerard Molyneux, the great great great grandson of Sir Thomas Phillipps to give a talk on his bibliophile relative. The talk will take place in the Lifford Memorial Hall, Lower Green, Broadway, starting at 7pm. Talks are free to members (membership £10 p.a), non-members are very welcome £3 on the door.

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

Sources:
Ancestry.co.uk
Dictionary of National Biography
Thomas Phillipps Family Tree Family Tree

Further reading: Wikipedia Article: Thomas Phillipps