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Posts Tagged ‘country houses’

While browsing the 1815 map of the Tamworth Timehikes area, I came across the name Dosthill Spa, between the then village of Dosthill and Two Gates on a bend of the river Tame and next to Dosthill house.

1815 ordnance map with orange arrow pointing out Dosthill Spa

Many of the ´discoveries´ in the blog were made by such browsing and cross referencing. It´s amazing how new information keeps coming out of these historic maps , the ease and the increasing  abundance of them online. This has resulted in an increasing backlog of places to write about. Originally I was going to try to weave routes around these places, as implied by the title ´timehikes´ but I haven´t figured out a way to put a route description with detailed descriptions of the places in one post, and then there´s my short attention span problem to contend with. Meanwhile I´ve connected a couple of routes on the googlemaps page, largely following public footpaths.

Dosthill Spa could be the perfect place for a well-earned rest for the Tamworth two, Abe and Ernst, away from guard dogs, shots, barwork, garden trespassing and more.

If the towel looks familiar it´s because it was stolen from Tamworth Holiday Inn.

Abe and Ernst are not the first to enjoy the waters of Dosthill spa. Back in 1816 there was a mention in  The life of William Hutton  F.A.S.S, 1816 accessible on google books of an excursion to the place with the words “With our friends, we made a party of pleasure to Dosthill Spa; held various conversations ; played at various games ; boated on the river.”

What is this place though and what makes it so special? There´s a clue in the Wells of Old Warwickshire by P.M and E.M Patchell written in the early 20th century in which it mentions a pair of springs one chalybeate and one strong brine, the old salt bath being between the footpath and river.

Chalybeate?

Wikipedia has a nice  entryon Chalybeate. Apparently chalybeate(salts) were all the rage in times gone by with the accommodated classes and Tamworth timehikes had it´s very own example.

picture of chalybeate springs in Tunbridge Wells in the 17th century taken from the aforementioned wikipedia entry.

The wikipedia entry goes onto explain the reasons for it´s popularity with this great quote about the health benefits  of Chalybeate baths taken from Dudley North´s physician in the 17th century which I repeat below

the colic, the melancholy, and the vapours; it made the lean fat, the fat lean; it killed flat worms in the belly, loosened the clammy humours of the body, and dried the over-moist brain.

Dosthill missed out a tourism slogan here,  ” come to Dosthill Spa and dry your over-moist brain!!!

No use for a slogan though if the spa  doesn´t currently exist? The place leads to all sorts of questions. What form did the spa have? what happened to it?

The above 1775 Yates map(from Staffordshire Pasttracks) on the left signals that the spa or ´bath´ as mentioned in the map goes back to at least the date of the map, how much further back? Was it associated with the building of the neighbouring 18th century Dosthill house. We do know that Dosthill house with it´s neighbouring curative waters was used a Spa hotel in the 19th century. In the 1899 ordnance map on the right it gets a mention as Chalybeate spa, but no idea if it was still a ´Spa hotel´

In the book Wells and springs of Warwickshire, Richardson, L, written in  1928  we can assume  that the spa or ´salt baths´were no longer in use. Here´s the quote from the book  below.

The old salt-bath is still in existence [between the footpath and River Tame west of Dosthill House], though much dilapidated, as is also a small reservoir into which ferruginous water oozes.

The spa placename appear on maps until shortly after WWII and then disappears, Whats the fate of the ´old salt bath´ Are there still physical remains of the baths next to the footpath? Maybe Dosthill Park Wildlife Group campaigning and working for bordering Dosthill park could shed light on  its fate?

I don´t know about you but I´m all for bringing the spa back, there´s a lot of over-moist brains, clammy humoured  people out there who could do with it!

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The demolishing of the Woodhouse is happening right now(see comment on post, woodhouse 1730-2010) , so thought it was time to post the authorities decision to allow demolition.

Below English Heritage have kindly allowed me to share the  English Heritage advice report in response to my application  and the reasons for it being denied. It’s quite detailed and has some fascinating new information on it´s possible use in WWII as a look out post and that maybe the remodelling of  the tower dates from this period. For me this at least was not a reason to demolish it, but actually added historic value to the place. I understand that it was difficult case and that it was a difficult one to preserve and renovate, but if only the authorities had reacted earlier and were more open-minded in their criteria(it´s not all country houses!).

The Ministry of Culture didn´t think it was relevant to protect. I disagree, it was an impressive, highly interesting and unusual historic house, badly managed  in the middle of an ancient wood. A little piece of magic and mystery has been taken away, I repeat  this was an old historic house in middle of ancient wood= that´s special. It was a hidden treasure on Tamworth´s footstep for so many reasons .

At times it feels like some sort of Chairman Mao cultural revolution policy is in place in the area in terms of   it´s past.

Disclaimer: This blog is not responsible for the views held in Abe and Ernst´s protest.

Here´s a link to UKurbanex´s photo archive on the woodhouse, many of them interior photos. There´s some great pictures there, those photos are now historic! There´s even photos of the Woodhouse cellar. Ok the place needed tidying up and there was some really dodgy paintwork  but with some imagination…..

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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

DEEP

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?

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