The President and Governors of Guy's Hospital acquired the Herefordshire estates of James Brydges, Duke of Chandos in 1731 - 2. These estates were composed partly of the ancient inheritance of the Brydges family whose principal seat was at Wilton in Bridstow near Ross, and partly of properties bought by the Duke over a period as additions to ancient inheritance.
When the Hospital acquired these estates only a small proportion came to its immediate possession. The rest were in reversion, subject to the terms of the settlement on the Lady Catherine, dowager of the Marquis of Carnarvon , the Duke's son, who died in 1727. She died in 1754 and only after that date did the Hospital obtain full possession.
The administration of the estates of the Hospital was centralised in the London estate office. From time to time the governing body appointed sub-committees to visit and report on the properties. Two of these reports, those for 1754 and 1775, are among these records and are of particular interest for the clear statement of the Hospital's estate policies. These form an interesting subject of comparison with those of the management of privately owned estates, where interests other than those simply of profitable return on investment were taken into account.
The policies ordered by the central administration were sometimes suggested, and then always carried out, by local agents or receivers whose office was, at some times almost hereditary in the Woodhouse and the Armitage families. The estates were managed in two divisions - the Ross division for properties in South Herefordshire, the Hereford division for those in the centre of the county. At one time separate records were kept for each, but later on records for both divisions were kept together. The Local agent forwarded his records and accounts to the Hospital and made reports. This probably explains the duplication in some classes of records. One set was kept locally, the other centrally.
After 1754 the estates in the possession and control of the Hospital included the manors of Acornbury, Callow and Dewsall and farms and cottages and lands in these parishes and in Much and Little Dewchurch, the manor of Wilton and properties in the parishes of Bridstow and Peterstow the manor called Monnington Stradle in Vowchurch and farms in that area, properties, including mills in St. Weonards, Michaelchurch, and Tretire, and a considerable estate in Pipe and Lyde and Stretton Sugwas.
The collection listed below contains mainly records created by the Hospital's administration of its estates, but include those of the systems to which the Hospital succeeded, such as manorial records for periods before its possession of the estates and counterparts of leases made by previous landlords.
The list had been arranged as far as possible in groups under the main classes or types of record found, but a reference to the old bundle system has been retained.
The Collection contains few muniments of title, and those listed here are mainly duplicate conveyances of small properties sold off from time to time. The estates did not remain entirely as acquired by the Hospital in 1751. Some properties were sold at various times - for example the Glewstone and Arbour farms in 1807, and throughout the period of the Hospital's possession it appears that adjustments were made towards consolidations of holdings. The leases, grouped under the main areas, have been listed in some detail, as they give a quick and easy form of description of the main properties, otherwise buried under the necessarily general entries to rentals or maps. Details of reservations and husbandry covenants have been omitted, unless of particular interest. The spellings of place names, often inconsistent, are those of the originals.