Continuing with the earlier post, Before Suburbia, I´m moved along the lost driveway onto Wigginton park, the great big park in the middle of the housing estates of Coton Green and Leyfields, Tamworth. It’s a great monument to the pleasure of grass. When I´ve visited Tamworth with a foreign acquaintance, I only take off their blindfold at a select group of places, including the castle grounds, library/ church and yes Wigginton park, its safe to say they are suitably impressed by the gently sloping park with it´s almost lurid greenery.
Well there´s the introduction, now in the words of the great George Clinton “let’s get deep, get real deep” For reasons of time and sanity, I´m going to split this into 2 posts, this one DEEP and the next one REAL DEEP, each going deeper into Wigginton park´s past. So here goes
Wigginton park conforms approximately to the former Wigginton estate.The information on the estate below is essentially a reworking of what´s on Tamworth heritage trust site The Wigginton estate was created at the beginning of the 19th century by John Clarke and his wife Elizabeth. They let the area revert to grass and planted trees, designing the area as a pleasant park. They built a couple of lodges one at the end of Copes drive, now near the Leyfields shops and one called Waterloo on the western side close to the railway tunnel entrance to Lichfield industrial estate. No evidence remains of them and looking at maps appear to have been demolished in the first part of the 20th century. What does remain is their main residence, nowadays called Wigginton lodge, home of Tamworth rugby club and pub! although never been in there. It´s an attractive white mansion, detailed technical information can be found on the english heritage site. John Clarke an eminent surgeon died in 1815. His brother Charles Clarke inherited it soon after. Like his brother Charles was a surgeon, specialising in children’s ailments. He went onto achieve great fame in the field and became personal physician of Queen Adelaide, wife of King William IV. After his death it was sold to the Hamel family. Its auction in 1852 appears in the Solicitors journal, published online. I´ve pasted it below, giving you an idea of life in Wigginton lodge at the time, I love the bit about 3 hours train journey away from London.
Apart from the mansion (above) , and the park itself there’s number of other reminders of the estate’s past.
Above is the 1889 ordnance map with some of the places mentioned in the post pointed out in orange
A lot of the trees would have been planted at the time of it´s creation and after. There´s a particularly leafless creepy example. which seems to be some tree version of the living dead. I´ve got no pictures of it, instead I´ve got one of the tree above that’s probably judging by its age a mute witness to the Waterloo lodge that once stood next to it.
Above is an old gateway with detail on right, situated next to the original mansion.
The evidence of gravel pits is still there as they appear on the 1884-85 ordnance map. Interestingly the biggest gravel pit as are others in Hopwas are locally known as bombholes. The connotations are a lot more interesting than gravel pits and makes you think of a Lufwaffe pilot gone astray and bombing Wigginton park, with one hell of a bomb by the looks of the hole. It’s another urban legend in the making, so make sure to tell the kids the´re called “bombholes”
Above, Theres no evidence of the paths that crisscross the estate on the 1901 ordnance map today. Putting the clock back on the google earth image to 2003 though, the genuinely elusive paths are revealed(pointed out with orange arrows)! probably after a dry summer.
There´s more, that I didn´t get a chance to check out over summer. For example on the 1884 ordnance map, an icehouse and saw pit are indicated, is there any evidence left now?