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Gnosall History
The only in-house servant mentioned on the 1871 census was a nurse for the three children. Mrs Hargreaves had advertised in 1864 for “a NURSEMAID, who thoroughly understands her duties and is a good needlewoman”. Major Hargreaves advertised in 1872 for “a thoroughly competent IN-DOOR SERVANT, unmarried, for a single-handed place. In livery preferred.— Address, stating age, height, wages, and experience, to R. Hargreaves, Esq., Knightley Grange.” In 1881, when widowed Sarah Ann was living there with daughter Elizabeth (with the Rev. Till’s daughter visiting), the census listed a cook, a butler, a housemaid and a kitchenmaid. By 1891, Robert and Rose were living at the Grange, and the in-house staff had risen to eight; a housekeeper, two housemaids, a kitchen maid, a butler, a groom, a nurse and an under-nurse. The gamekeeper, coachman and gardener lived nearby. (Sadly, the gamekeeper, George Slynn, died in a gun accident in 1907.) In 1896 Rose advertised in the Morning Post for an under nurse “French or French-Swiss, Protestant, age 15, clean and active, very good character required”. From the other advertisements, it seems it was the thing to have French or French- Swiss maids. German maids were also in demand. This was presumably so that the children would acquire good French or German accents. In 1899 she advertised: “WANTED, Good KITCHENMAID; age 20-22; Churchwoman; country situation; dairy and baking; scullerymaid kept : very good character required.” The Grange staff had changed slightly by 1901: housekeeper, lady’s maid, children’s maid, two housemaids, kitchen maid, footman and groom. Things had changed by 1924 when the family advertised for a “Youth (18) … for Pantry and to Clean Motors.” Again age, height and experience were requested. The Hargreaves also advertised to tried to find places for their staff. In 1890 “Miss Hargreaves of Knightley Grange” advertised to recommend a 16-year-old boy as “Page or Hall Boy,” and on Sarah Ann’s death in 1895, Mrs (Rose) Hargreaves advertised in the Morning Post on behalf of the maid who had looked after her mother-in-law: “MRS. HARGREAVES wishes to RECOMMEND a Good MAID for middle-aged or elderly lady ; suitable to an invalid, kind, and attentive; good needlewoman; Church of England; age 33; wages £28-£30; leaving only through death.— Knightley Grange, Eccleshall, Staffs.” (This may have been Elizabeth Loyns.)
Hargreaves Family
Knightley Grange was visited on 19 June 1911 by a surveyor. Close inspection of the details reported in the surveyor’s Field Note Book gives another perspective on the circumstances in which Rose Harriet Hargreaves (at that time, a widow) lived just before the Great War. The house had a hall and inner hall, lounge, drawing room and morning room, a room for dining, a library and smoking room all for the family. A servants’ hall and butler’s pantry, plate room, store-room, kitchen, scullery and pantry, plus two larders, lamp room, boot room and housekeeper’s room probably completed the ground floor. There were cellars and the family had a water closet. Two staircases gave access to six bedrooms and four dressing rooms with a bathroom and boudoir for the family. Servants had ten bedrooms and there was a housemaids’ room and water closet also for them to share. This seems generous space for the ten people residing there earlier in the year. It is easy to imagine the classic upstairs-downstairs picture of the Edwardian gentleman’s country seat applying to Knightley Grange. No internal plan of the house is available, but the 25 inch Ordnance Survey map (1900) shows the relationship between the domestic quarters and the outside working areas. From the surveyor’s sketch (click plan) the exact purpose of these various buildings can be seen. The Grange was the principal structure on an estate, but it was not itself a working farm. Stables for several horses and three coach houses with the associated harness room round a large yard point to riding to hounds and carriage excursions. A large kitchen garden and orchard were also significant elements in the working life of the house. Altogether, set in a wooded parkland Knightley Grange was a major feature of the landscape and its owner a social figure of importance in Edwardian Staffordshire. The estate as surveyed in 1911 covered approximately 580 acres straddling the Gnosall parish boundary with Norbury where more than half the land lay. The Grange itself, set in a 22 acre park, was close to the eastern edge with the bulk of the land stretching to the north and west. Some 116 acres of mature woodland in several large coppices were significant features of the landscape. Those in Gnosall had not changed since marked on the 1838 Tithe Map. Rose Harriet would seem to have taken S. Barratt into partnership to run the holding known as Knightley Park Farm which stretched northward from the Grange for about 134 acres. Old House Farm adjoining this had only been acquired in 1899 and covered 38 acres. The other property in Gnosall parish was a 9 acre plot with a cottage which was empty when the surveyor arrived on 20 June 1911. He found kennels on the site which rather suggests that Major Hargreaves had kept a pack of hounds. In Norbury parish George Boffey was the tenant of the estate’s largest division. His 261 acres had a balance of 175 to 70 acres of pasture to arable whereas virtually all of Knightley Park Farm was used as pasture. Boffey was noted by the surveyor as paying an annual rent of £326-17s-0d. Mr Lowe the tenant at Old House Farm paid £85 a year, a significantly larger charge per acre than Boffey. There is no information about the income Mrs Hargreaves could expect from working Knightley Park Farm. 
1910 Finance Act
The 1910 Finance Act provided for the levy and collection of a duty on land in the United Kingdom based on any increased value of the land. A detailed survey was undertaken nationally and findings documented. This provides a valuable insight into Knightley Grange for that period.
House Staff
Knightley Grange was a popular venue for the Albrighton hounds through from the 1860s to the 1900s - The County Gentleman noted Robert Hargreaves as a “familar face” on a hunt at Ranton in December 1885 and his hearty hospitality was much mentioned in The Field in the early 1900s. In fact when he was absent during the Boer war in 1902 it was joked that he would be pleased to hear that they had found foxes to hunt in Shelmore Park. The Hargreaves women also hunted - the Misses Hargreaves went cubbing with the Albrighton Hunt in 1912.
The family weddings could be elaborate affairs. When Ellen married Valentine Vickers in Gnosall in 1877, there were 30 carriages, flags, garlands and triumphal arches. Knightley schoolchildren strewed flowers before the bride and the church choir drank the couple’s health at the Royal Oak at Mr Hargreaves’ expense. The wedding of Elizabeth and Lewin Cholmeley in Gnosall in 1883 involved floral arches in Gnosall and Knightley. And in 1886 when Robert and Rose arrived back from their honeymoon, a crowd met them off the train at Gnosall, the station and village were decorated with Union Jacks and bunting and the church bells pealed. After another splendid arch with flags and banners at Knightley Dale there were fireworks, garlands and more Union Jacks at Knightley Grange. Mrs Hargreaves invited the cottagers to roast meat and plum pudding in a marquee the following day and the school children the day after. For full details click here The Hargreaves women regularly attended local charity balls. The annual County Infirmary Ball at Stafford’s Shire Hall, highly decorated, was quite a sumptuous affair. “Shortly after ten o’clock the first visitors arrived and for upwards of an hour, carriage followed carriage in quick succession” in 1876. The guest list started with an Earl and Countess and worked its way down the social ranks. Twenty dances - quadrilles, galops, waltzes, lancers - were listed and after midnight “a récherché and elegant supper” was served. The women also attended the Staffordshire County Cricket Club ball, the mid-Staffordshire Tennis Club Ball and the North Shropshire County Ball, among others. It seems it was common for hunt members to wear their red coats (hunting pink) for these events. In 1890 Robert innovated a Conservative smoking concert in Gnosall Schoolrooms, but specified that “politics would be altogether tabooed” and the evening was given up to singing.
Social life
The Hargreaves were clearly genially disposed towards the local community. From the early 1880s the children of Knightley School (about 100) had an annual school feast at Knightley Grange, organised by Mrs Hargreaves Snr. It began with games on the front lawn, followed by cake and tea, and more races in the park (with prizes for all) ending with a paper chase. The annual school treat at the Grange was carried on through the 1930s along the same lines. In June 1940 Rose Hargreaves, as President of Gnosall W.I., invited the members to visit the house and gardens, and after Rose’s death, Violet and Ruth organised treats for the Sunday School pupils in the 1940s. Rose embroidered a banner for the WI in the 1930s. It is on show in the ‘Grosvenor Centre’ in Gnosall. Click here to view In 1946 Knightley Grange, “well alight”, was used for practice by the National Fire Service, with six appliances and nearly 40 firemen taking part.
Knightley Grange and the community
Knightley Grange - The Estate and Property
The site of Knightley Grange was owned on the Tithe survey in the late 1830s by the Earl of Lichfield. In August 1856 an estate of 2000 acres was advertised for sale by auction in September of that year (see newspaper article). It was described as “a highly valuable freehold estate situate in the townships of Norbury, Knightley, Plardiwick and Gnosall”. The sale particulars (Stafford Record Office D615/ES/4/12) advertised several farms together in one lot. The land sold to Mr Hargreaves amounted to about 580 acres. This is calculated from the land owned by his son’s widow Rose Hargreaves on the 1910 Finance Act (see plan), and which confirms the 1856 Sales particulars held at Stafford Record Office, so it appears that the original 2000 acres sale was divided and it is not clear whether his purchase was concluded at the auction or at a later date. The site for the building of Knightley Grange property was on that of Cob Hall Farm (plot 417 on Tithe Map). A relevant section of the 1838 Tithe map and later OS map from 1880 have been merged in the comparison (shown by the link on the right). Note the the orientation of the Tithe map is not North-South as indicated by the angle of the 1838 text. As can be seen in the comparison the adjacent roadway was changed and a sweeping driveway laid to the west side with a service access to the east. Cob Hall Farm comprised 105a, 0r, 7p perches of land in 1856 and was in the tenancy of John Skellorn. Skellorn’s tenancy of Cob Hall Farm was recorded in the Gnosall rate books maintained by parish overseers of the poor. Details show that in April 1860 the owner was Earl of Lichfield and a few months later in August, the owner was Hargreaves. However, the land area had reduced to 97a, 2r, 4p on both records. Maybe Hargreaves had made an arrangement to occupy some of the estate earlier or until Skellorn’s tenancy had expired thus allowing building work to commence. In January 1861, the Gnosall rate books indicate that Hargreaves is the occupier as well as the owner. There are no dates when the Grange was built but what may help is to track the whereabouts at that time of Robert Hargreaves. He was residing in the late 1840s at Johnson Hall just South of Eccleshall and it is from that address it is assumed he negotiated the purchase of the estate from Earl of Lichfield. Newspaper articles (shown by the link on the right) from 1859 show that he was at the Hall in July. Johnson Hall was sold in August and there was a 3 day sale of contents in September “the property of Robert Hargreaves Esq”. Some 12 months later on 16 December 1860 his son Robert Halstead Hargreaves was born at Leamington Priors, Warwickshire. The newspaper announcement refers the father as Captain Hargreaves, Norbury Manor. So it appears that the family might have moved to Norbury Manor which was included in the estate that Hargreaves purchased. However, The 36, Lansdown Place, Leamington Priors address is a mystery. Robert Halsted was christened at Leamington Priors in February 1861 and the whole family was there on the 1861 census. In June 1861 Robert was back in the locality attending a dinner at Walton Grove, Eccleshall of the “Eccleshall Rifle Volunteers” where the chairman in his speech said: “it gave him great pleasure to see Major Hargreave’s face once more amongst them, and he hoped that ere long he would settle in his new home as one of the resident landed proprietors of the county”. The earliest evidence of occupancy was a newspaper report dated 25 January 1862 of a ball. A list of patrons included “Major Hargreave, Knightley Grange, Eccleshall”. He built his imposing country house “in the Tudor style”, Knightley Grange. The original house had tall Tudor chimneys, a tower, mullioned windows and projecting bay windows topped by balconies. The property remained in the Hargreaves family for over 100 years until it was sold with most of the estate in 1967. Some properties were retained by the family. Knightley Grange was never lived in again after that date. 1967 - It was bought by a farmer Brian J Dale from Ludlow who demolished the tower as it was unsafe and started work doing structural alterations, but these were never completed. In 1992 Knightley Grange and the majority of the estate was sold to Lichfield Estates who didn’t do anything to it. Then in 2007 it was bought by a large property investment company Granger PLC. In 2009 they sold it to the present owner. At that time, Country Life magazine wrote: “Uninhabited now for a number of years, Knightley Grange is in a pretty rundown state, although wind- and weathertight, and according to selling agent Tony Morris-Eyton, wired and plumbed to ‘first fix stage’. Shrewsbury-based architect Graham Moss has produced an impressive set of drawings indicating how the house and its courtyard of ancillary buildings could look once restored. It makes an appealing picture, at an estimated construction cost of £1m-plus.” The building was demolished in 2019.
Knightley Grange and the Hargreaves Family
Newspaperarticle Plan 1838 compare 1880 Newspaperarticle Plan
(1910 survey for all of the parish at this link: Gnosall Parish - 1910 Finance Act )
This picture of his ceremonial carriage shows his equipage in state livery, presumably used for official occasions as Justice of the Peace and for family social affairs. The trumpeter on the left has a banner with the family arms. It’s interesting that the carriage, was in an auction years later.
This web page would not have been possible without the help of those listed below. Paul Anderton, Felicity Potter, John Braithwaite, Joan Richardson, Rev. Pippa Thorneycroft, Sir Nicholas Mander. Special thanks go to Mrs. B. Wolseley (daughter-in-law of Ruth Hargreaves) for permission to use photographs of family portraits, and to her daughter Heather for supplying the images and responding to my many emails.
Robert Halstead Hargreaves Snr. (1780-1847)
Robert Halstead Hargreaves Snr. owned a well-known druggist shop on Market Street, Manchester: "one of the oldest druggists in Manchester" according to “Reminiscences of Manchester fifty years ago” (1881). This book states he had been in business since 1796 and “had been a chemical manufacturer in which he made a large fortune” and continued to deal in chemical products as a drysalter. He retired in 1844, just 3 years before his death. The Reminiscences offer an entertaining pen-portrait of him. Page 67 states: "I was often sent to him to inquire what he would charge us for some article which we had not in stock. As sure as I did so the old gentleman would seize a duster and commence a polishing operation on his counter-top. Whilst doing this he would mutter a complaint that my master was spoiling the trade (referring to the drysaltery) by cutting down the profits and underselling him. Then, after another rub or two, he would gruffly give me the information I sought." He owned a Manchester dyehouse (sold 1815) and a number of Manchester warehouses. He had property throughout Lancashire, in Yorkshire, in Cheshire – he bought the ancient lordship or manor of Barnside, Lancs in 1835. On the basis of these properties he appeared on the electoral rolls of three places simultaneously in 1844 and 1845 and was also challenged in the courts in 1846 for claiming two votes for his sons in Cheshire from two pieces of pasture there. It seems to have been allowed. His will also mentions land at "Chelmorton in the County of Derby, occupied by George Percival and others". R H Hargreaves Snr also invested in the new railways such as the Manchester & Leeds and the East Lancashire and his younger son, Samuel Hargreaves of Holt House, Mobberley, listed himself as a “landed and railway proprietor”. The latter left £95,517 on his death in 1893. Robert H. Hargreaves married widow Elizabeth Shaw in 1815 at Youlgreave in Derbyshire where she was born in 1787. Her maiden surname was Briddon and she married John Shaw at Youlgreave in 1809. The marriage record shows his profession was a Chandler. There is a burial record for St Mary's Church, Manchester in June 1814 for a John Shaw, and a newspaper advertisement in the same month selling his possessions. His business was in Piccadilly adjacent to where Robert ran his business. It is a good assumption that is how they met. Robert and Elizabeth had two sons, Robert born 1818 and Samuel born 1820 and a daughter Jane born 1821. Samuel moved to Mobberley in Cheshire and Jane married woollen manufacturer and landowner James Turner from Haslingden, Lancs. in 1837. Their family lived at Rusholme, and Samuel stayed with them on occasion.
Robert Halstead Hargreaves (1861-1909)
Robert Halstead Hargreaves was born 16 December 1860 when the family was resident in Leamington Priors, Warwickshire and christened on 6th February 1861 at All Saints Church, Leamington Priors. The family later returned to Staffordshire and moved into the newly built Knightley Grange. Robert was educated at Harrow and Magdalene College, Cambridge and joined the 2nd King’s Own Staffordshire Militia as second lieutenant in 1879, then in January 1888 was gazetted captain and hon. major. Like his father, he was also a J.P., and lived off his own income. Robert married Rose Harriett third daughter of Rev. C.H. Steward in the Parish Church of Ashchurch in Gloucestershire on Tuesday December 21 1886. For full details click here They had 3 daughters: Violet 1888, Nancy Steward 1890 and Ruth Gertrude 1893. All were baptised at St Lawrence Church, Gnosall. Robert travelled to South Africa and served in the Boer War. He was warmly welcomed on his return by train in Gnosall and Knightley where villagers towed his carriage most of the way home! He spoke to say that he had not been involved in any fighting, but had loyally met the call from his king to serve. For full details click here He was permitted to keep his rank of Major and hon. lieutenant-colonel when he resigned his commission in 1904. His appointment as a Deputy Lieutenant of Staffordshire and his tenure of the office of Sheriff in 1904, the year he resigned his military commission, demonstrated the high regard he enjoyed among the county’s gentry elite. From 1883 he served as a justice of the peace and was regularly on the Grand Jury at Assize time. Until 1889 the bench of magistrates at Quarter Sessions supervised the administration of public services in the county and Hargreaves was placed on several important bodies to represent the interests of the magistrates such as the Coton Hill Institution and the county Licensing Authority. In May 1909 Robert Halstead Hargreaves died while on a visit to London, aged 48; leaving his widow Rose Harriet and three unmarried daughters at Knightley Grange. His executors were Lewin Charles Cholmeley, his brother-in-law, and solicitor and Thomas Higgins Burne a neighbour at Loynton Hall, Norbury. Probate was granted for £29,935 Click here for his obituary Rose Harriett and two of her daughters continued to live at Knightley Grange, with Rose managing the estate and building up a herd of British Friesian dairy cattle. She and daughter Violet were also beekeepers. Rose became President of Gnosall and District Agricultural Society and of Gnosall W.I. Rose died 13 December 1942 and was buried at Knightley. Click here for her funeral notice This painting at Knightley Grange with The Wrekin in the background is of the three daughters of Robert and Rose Hargreaves. Violet Halstead never married and became a JP., a County Councillor for Forton, a social worker and President of Gnosall Nursing Association. In 1939 she was at Knightley Grange with her mother, and serving as a Special Constable. She remained at Knightley Grange until her death in 1964. In 1913 Nancy Steward married Gerald Poynton Mander, of Wolverhampton. They had 3 children born in Wolverhampton. She died 20 November 1960. In 1923 Ruth Gertrude married Captain William Ralph Wolseley. He had been decorated in WWI and son of Sir Charles Wolseley of Wolseley Hall in Colwich. He and Ruth lived at Knightley Grange, and in 1939 he was there as a member of the ARP while Ruth was in the Women’s Land Army and the WVS. They had 2 children both baptised locally. Ruth died 7 December 1962 at Knightley Grange. In 1966 some of the more valuable contents of Knightley Grange were sold by auction. Click here for details The property was sold in 1967.
Major Robert Hargreaves was born in Manchester in 1818. He was living at Johnson Hall, Eccleshall since the late 1840s and was a local JP. It is not known what brought Robert to Eccleshall and gave him entry into Staffordshire society. He was active with the Staffordshire Militia and Staffordshire Rifle Volunteers – with whom he was popular – and seems to have been called up for the Crimean War and then the Indian Rebellion of 1857-8 though it’s unlikely he went overseas. His wife Sarah Anne nee Clegg was the daughter of wealthy Lancashire mill owners. The Clegg family, of Butt Hill, Prestwich, had a weaving shed at Besses o’th’Barn, owned Vale Mill in Heywood and also had a warehouse on New Brown Street in Manchester (rented from Hargreaves). Robert and Sarah Anne married on 8 March 1849 and had four surviving children, Ellen Gertrude Grant, born Eccleshall 1854, Elizabeth Maud, born Eccleshall 1859, Robert Halstead Hargreaves (who inherited the estate), born Leamington Priors 1861, and Ada Mary, born Knightley 1863 and baptised at St Lawrence. During his married life Major Hargreaves continued to sit as a JP and on the Stafford Grand Jury. He and Mrs Hargreaves attended a meeting in Eccleshall in 1854 for Prince Albert’s Patriotic Fund to raise money for the widows and orphans left by the Crimean War, and in 1859 a fete was held in the grounds of Johnson House to raise money for Eccleshall library and reading room. The Hargreaves daughters all left Knightley with two of them making socially advantageous marriages. Major Hargreaves died aged 62 on 28th October 1880 and was buried at Knightley. The chancel extension, vestry and choir aisle at Christchurch, Knightley, were built 1882-1883 in his memory. His widow Sarah Anne continued to live in Knightley with her daughters. Her son Robert Halstead Hargreaves (Jnr) returned to live at Knightley Grange after marrying Rose Harriet Steward, a vicar’s daughter, in Gloucestershire in 1886.
Robert Hargreaves (1818-1880)
Ruth Violet Nancy
Robert Hargreaves 1818 - 1880
Sarah Anne Clegg 1829 - 1895
Robert Halstead Hargreaves 1861 - 1909
Rose Harriett Steward 1861 - 1942
Robert Halstead Hargreaves B: 1774 Blackburn D: 1847
Elizabeth Shaw (nee Briddon) B: 1787 Youlgreave D: 1844
Married 1815 Youlgreave, Derbyshire
Robert Hargreaves B: 1818 Blackburn D: 1880
Sarah Anne Clegg B: c1829 Heywood D: 1895
Married 1849 Prestwich, Lancashire
Samuel Hargreaves B: 1820 D: 1893
Frances G. C. Holland B: 1839 D: 1909
Married 1889 St George’s, London
Jane Hargreaves B: 1821 D: 1898
James Turner B: 1807 Haslingden D: 1851 Rushholme
Married 1837 Manchester
Robert Halstead Hargreaves B: 1861 Leamington Priors D: 1909 Knightley Grange
Rose H. Steward B: 1861 Walton D: 1942 Knightley Grange
Married 1886 Gloucestershire
Ellen G.G.Hargreaves B: 1854 Eccleshall D: 1937 Stafford
Valentine W. Vickers B: 1854 Ellerton Grange D: 1899
Married 1877 Gnosall
Elizabeth M. Hargreaves B: 1859 Eccleshall D: 1932
Lewin Charles Cholmeley B: 1855 London D: 1899
Married 1883 Gnosall
Ada M. Hargreaves B: 1863 Knightley Grange D: 1952
Violet Halstead Hargreaves B: 1888 Gnosall D: 1964 Knightley Grange
Nancy Steward Hargreaves B: 1890 Gnosall D: 1960 Wolverhampton
Gerald P. Mander B: 1885 Wolverhampton D: 1951
Married 1913 St Georges, London
Ruth Gertrude Hargreaves B: 1893 Gnosall D: 1962 Knightley Grange
William R. J. Wolseley B: 1887 D: 1977
Married 1923 Gnosall
Catherine D. Mander B: 1914 Wolverhampton D: 2007
Philip F. Mander B: 1915 Wolverhampton D: 1972
Hilary N. Mander B: 1924 Wolverhampton D:
Robert Wolseley B: 1924 D: 1998
Veronica Wolseley B: 1928 D: 2019
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