Great and Little Badminton
Hawkesbury and Hillesley
Chipping Sodbury and Old Sodbury
Tidenham and Woolaston
Hundred of Grumbald's Ash
Gloucestershire and Wiltshire manors
Former Russell estates
Berkeley family estates including Out-County Manors
Charter of liberties
Badminton Estate Gloucestershire: Great and Little Badminton
Gloucestershire: Acton Turville
Gloucestershire: Didmarton and Oldbury
Gloucestershire: Prior's Norton
Gloucestershire: Redwick and Northwick
Gloucestershire: Little and Old Sodbury
Wiltshire: West Kington
Wiltshire: Littleton Drew
Hundred of Grumbald's Ash
Tidenham and Woolaston estate
Sir John Somerset's estate: Acton and Pauntley
Berkeley Estates Stoke and Stapleton
Gloucestershire: Rockhampton and Oldbury
Gloucestershire: Stanley Pontlarge
Worcestershire: Kings Norton
Wiltshire: Milston and Brigmerston
Susanna Cope's estate, Wiltshire
Lady Hereford's estate: Wiltshire
Lady Hereford's estate: Somerset
Lady Hereford's estate: Norfolk and Suffolk
Settlements at Badminton
Henry, 1st Marquess of Worcester
Thomas, Viscount Somerset
Sir Charles Somerset
Edward, 2nd Marquess of Worcester
Henry, 1st Duke of Beaufort
Henry, 2nd Duke of Beaufort
Henry, 3rd Duke of Beaufort
Charles Noel, 4th Duke of Beaufort
Henry, 5th Duke of Beaufort
Henry Charles, 6th Duke of Beaufort
Henry, 7th Duke of Beaufort
Henry, 8th Duke of Beaufort
Henry, 9th Duke of Beaufort
Wills and related trusts
Somerset family wills at Badminton
Berkeley family wills at Badminton
Norborne family wills at Badminton
Coventry family wills at Badminton
Trustees of the 2nd Duke's estate
Trustees of the 4th Duke's estate
General (whole estate):
Surveys and valuations
Accounts and financial papers
Estate correspondence and papers
Surveys and valuations
Accounts and financial papers
Agent's correspondence and papers
Purchase and sale
Drainage and improvements
Maps and plans
Tidenham and Woolaston:
Surveys and valuations
Accounts and financial papers
Estate correspondence and papers
Purchase and sale
Severn and Wye fisheries
Maps and plans
London and Middlesex
Carolinas and Bahamas
Stoke and Stapleton
Surveys and valuations
Accounts and financial papers
Estate correspondence and papers
Purchase and sale
Warmley Brass and Copper Company
Maps and plans
Berkeley estates: Wiltshire
Berkeley estates: Norfolk and Suffolk
Berkeley estates: general
Household at Badminton
Great and Little Badminton
Didmarton and Oldbury
Glastonbury Abbey (Somerset)
Badminton muniments at Badminton
Lists and schedules
Fragments removed from estate books etc.
Documents not relating to family or estate
Printed At Badminton
|Administrative / biographical background:
THE BEAUFORT ESTATES
The 'ancient possessions'
Charles Somerset, the founder of the family, had no hereditary connexions with Wales, and his establishment as a leading marcher lord, and his acquisition of numerous lucrative Crown offices depended on royal favour. Throughout Henry VII's reign he was one of the king's most trusted advisers, constantly employed in the service of the Crown. The death in 1491 of William Herbert, Earl of Huntingdon, whose only child Elizabeth was unmarried, provided Henry VII with an opportunity to reward Somerset and to secure the Crown's interests in Wales by promoting his marriage to Elizabeth Herbert which took place in 1492. By this marriage Charles Somerset acquired great estates in South Wales, including Gower and Kilvey, Crickhowell and Tretower, Chepstow and Tidenham, Raglan and a large group of manors in Monmouthshire, and the manor of Wellington and Yeasor in Herefordshire. From this time the former Herbert lands in Wales became the basis of the family estates. Raglan castle did not come into the actual possession of the family until c.1545, and until this date their Welsh residence seems to have been Chepstow castle. William, 3rd Earl of Worcester, began extensive building work at Raglan c.1565, and it became the family seat until its destruction in 1646.
Charles Somerset, 1st Earl of Worcester, was also granted manors and lands in Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Kent, but these were sold by the 2nd and 3rd Earls. His London house, known as Worcester Place, was situated at St James, Garlickhithe, over-looking the Thames. This house was sold by the 3rd Earl and the family seems not to have maintained a permanent London residence until the 1st Marquess acquired Bedford House (which became known as Worcester House) on his marriage with Anne Russell
Henry, 2nd Earl of Worcester (1526-1549), supported Henry VIII against the Pope in his marriage to Anne Boleyn, and was rewarded with the grant of the lands of Tintern Abbey in March 1536/7. It was the richest monastery in Wales, and its possessions included valuable estates in Monmouthshire, and the manor of Woolaston. In September 1542, the manors of Chalton (Hants) and Crookham (Berks) were granted to his son Lord Herbert and his heirs on the death of the Earl of Southampton (who died soon afterwards). Maladministration of his Welsh estates helped to bring about legislation in 1536 which greatly reduced the privileges of marcher lords, and on his death his numerous Welsh offices were granted to the Earl of Pembroke and not to his heir William.
William, 3rd Earl of Worcester, experienced financial difficulties at first because of the loss of his father's Welsh offices, and the burden of his mother's jointure and other family commitments. This caused the sale of the Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire estates, Worcester Place in London, Wellington and Yeasor, Talgarth Anglicana and other small properties in South Wales. But after his mother's death in 1565 he moved his household to Raglan and began extensive reconstruction there, including magnificent gardens in the forefront of Renaissance fashion. In 1584 he purchased the Troy estate which became one of the principal family possessions. The financial recovery was probably the result of an overhaul of the administration of his Welsh estates leading to a marked increase in landed income. A series of manorial surveys, some with fine estate maps as in the survey of Crickhowell and Tretower, 1587, and detailed lease registers, date from this period. Thomas Hillary was appointed as auditor/surveyor ( succeeded by Matthew Nelson under the 4th and 5th Earls). The increase in income apparently offset the great losses he incurred by appointing his brother-in-law Sir Edward Mansell to the receivership of Gower.
Edward, 4th Earl of Worcester (1589-1628), showed the same determination to maintain the efficient administration of his estates and embarked on lawsuits to secure his rights and control over the more remote parts of his estates such as Gower and Chalton. He also secured an Exchequer decree establishing the boundaries of his royalty on the River Severn which belonged to the honor of Chepstow, and included valuable perquisites such as wrecks. He was a prominent political figure, often in London and at the court, and benefitted especially after the accession of James I by a spectacular increase of income through his tenure of office and other royal favours. The office of Lord Privy Seal which he held from 1616 until his death was particularly lucrative. He purchased the manors of Great and Little Badminton in 1612 from Nicholas Boteler, and settled them on Sir Thomas Somerset (Viscount Cashel) on his marriage in 1617. In 1620 he purchased Pauntley manor from Sir Henry Poole. He obtained a general charter of privileges and liberties throughout all his manors and lordships in 1607. He added a formal water garden of a very advanced kind to Raglan.
The Russell inheritance
Henry, 5th Earl and 1st Marquess of Worcester (1628-1646) unlike his father was a zealous and professing Catholic. He was not politically prominent and enjoyed no perquisites from Crown office although he seems to have been well-regarded by the king. Contemporary opinion regarded him as an exceptionally wealthy man, and certainly his household at Raglan numbering about 200 was very large by 17th century standards. From 1639 he made loans of considerable sums of money to Charles I, and the 2nd Marquess claimed that he and his father had spent £918,000 in loans to the king, raising troops and maintaining a garrison at Raglan. The royalist soldier and diarist Richard Symonds stated that the 1st Marquess's estate was 'esteemed 24 thousand pounds per annum'
The source of his wealth was partly the very large personal estate, said to have been worth £200,000, left him by the 4th Earl. He also showed the same abilities in the administration of his estates which were put into good order by his confidential servant and agent Hugh Owen, resulting in a great increase in the rental of the Welsh estates. He also made investments in land and landed securities on a large scale including purchasing the manor of Monmouth, the manor of Poston and the demesne lands of Skenfrith and Grosmont, the loans made on securities included Kinnersley and Letton, and Shobdon in Herefordshire and Sir John Stepney's Carmarthenshire estate.
His marriage in 1600 to Anne Russell took place in the presence of the Queen. The bride was said to have brought a portion of £2000 and jewels and plate worth £1,000. On the death of her sister Elizabeth three weeks later she became sole heir to a considerable estate which included Russell (later Worcester) House in London, the manor of Acton (Middlesex) and the manors of Chulmleigh and Denbury (Devon). Kendal Park (Westmorland) seems to have been acquired in 1613, and in 1614 Lady Anne Herbert purchased the manor of Chaldon Herring (Dorset) from the Earl of Bedford. In 1617 a settlement of the Russell estates provided for their inheritance of the manors of Little Bytham and Castle Bytham (Lincolnshire) and Oundle (Northamptonshire). The manor of Acton and the Pauntley Court estate were settled on his second son Sir John Somerset on his marriage in 1632, and eventually went out of the family.
Civil War and Sequestration
The lack of judgment shown by the 2nd Marquess (1646-1667) in many aspects of his life and general lack of interest in estate management could have been disastrous but for the foresight of his father and prudence and practical abilities of his heir.
Edward, 2nd Marquess of Worcester, was devoted to his scientific experiments. He had laboratories and workshops in Raglan Castle and at Vaux Hall in South Lambeth. His experiments at Vaux Hall are said to have cost £600,000, and the only tangible results were the publication of his Century of Inventions written in 1655, and the 1663 Act which secured him most of the profits from his water-commanding engine, which proved unremunerative. He had incurred very considerable debts by 1636, and his father took steps to secure the future of the family estates from future mis-management. A settlement had been made on him of the main estates for life only in 1635; in 1637 the integrity of these estates was further guaranteed by a covenant in the penal sum of £20,000 not to alienate them from his son Henry. His devotion to the king's cause in the Civil War forced him to take refuge in France in 1648 and in the following year his estates were sequestered by Parliament. Lack of means probably forced him to return to England where he was committed to the Tower from 1652-4. He was in such financial distress that on his release he was granted a small pension by the Council, and promptly resumed his costly experiments. His estates were restored to him after the Restoration, but they were heavily burdened with debt and it took all his heir's skill to preserve them intact and to rid them of incumbrances. He waited in vain for recognition of his services during the Civil War from Charles II.
The 1st Duke of Beaufort and Badminton
Raglan was taken and destroyed in 1646, and the 1st Marquess died in captivity soon afterwards. His nuncupative will declared that he left 'all that I have in the world' to his grandson Henry, and in the family disputes over the will which followed, Dr Thomas Bayly, (chaplain at Raglan and author of Worcester's Apophthegms) testified that the Marquess regarded his grandson as 'the only hope of the family' and said that if his son Edward [2nd Marquess] 'had a chamber full of gold he would throw it all away'.
Henry, Lord Herbert amply justified the hopes of his grandfather. He had been sent abroad in 1644 and had been too young to take part in the Civil War. On his return to England in 1650 he successfully defended himself against a charge of delinquency and proved that his father had a life interest only in the greater part of the estates. In return for confirming to Cromwell the Somerset lands settled on him by Parliament, and in satisfaction for other property which had been sold, the lands in which the 2nd Marquess had only a life interest were conveyed to Lord Herbert in 1652. He cancelled £16,000 owed to him as executor of the 1st Marquess by his father, on condition that these estates were conveyed to him in fee, and set about purchasing back other parts of the estates from the Committee for removal of obstructions. After the Restoration he bought up bonds for large amounts of debt contracted by his father, in return for a settlement on him of a greater part of the estates. The 1st Duchess later estimated that £28,000 had been spent in purchasing the estate from the Commonwealth and in paying off mortgages when they were first married. He succeeeded in consolidating the greater part of the family estates in his own hands and in freeing the estates from the great burden of debt for which his father had been mainly responsible. In 1657 he married the widowed Lady Beauchamp and her large fortune undoubtedly helped, but the family owes much to his shrewdness and good judgment which did so much to reestablish their estates.
The Badminton estate had descended to Viscount Somerset's only child Elizabeth. She bequeathed Badminton, and the manor of Sutton in Lincolnshire (which had been granted to Viscount Somerset in 1635) to Lord Herbert. The estates had been seqestrated but the Act of 1656 provided for the discharge of sequestration provided the heir was a Protestant. On her death in 1655 Lord Herbert claimed the Badminton estate and secured a certificate from Gloucestershire Quarter Sessions in 1658 stating that he was a Protestant, so the sequestration was lifted. The change of religion probably contributed to the many 'differences' which arose between Lord Herbert and his father. In 1663 the Herberts entertained the king and queen and a great party at Badminton, and building started the following year. It continued until 1691, and according to the Duchess cost £40,000 including the plantations. Licence to enlarge the Park was obtained from Cromwell in in 1658 and from Charles II in 1664. Exchanges and conveyances for that purpose started in 1658 and continued to the end of the century. The 1708 map shows the extent of the Park, and the new avenues and plantations, the 'canal', and the house and gardens. In 1701 the Duchess brought Knyff to Badminton to 'show what a noble place my dear Lord has left this'.
Thomas, Viscount Somerset had purchased Swangrove, but it was the 1st Duke who began systematically to build up the Badminton estate (beginning with the purchase of the manor of Littleton Drew in 1656) spending £12,000.
The Troy estate had been settled on Sir Charles Somerset, 3rd son of Edward, 4th Earl of Worcester, on his marriage in 1609. The 1st Duke bought back the estate in 1663 at a cost, according to the 1st Duchess of £16,700, and spent a further £3,000 on rebuilding the house between 1681-4 so that his heir, Charles, Marquess of Worcester might 'have a house...suitable to his quality.' The Troy estate was settled on Charles, Marquess of Worcester on his marriage in 1682 to Rebecca, daughter of the wealthy London merchant Sir Josiah Child. Her portion was reputed to have been £50,000. The Duke may also have invested in trading ventures since his receiver-general's accounts refer to building the ship 'Beaufort' in 1682, and to his shares in the East India Company. Rebecca Child also brought into the family her interest in the proprietorship of the Carolinas and Bahamas.
By 1678 the Duke was finding Worcester House inconvenient and was looking for a new London house. By 1682 Worcester House had evidently been pulled down and Beaufort Buildings were built on the site, 1682-1683, for leasing.
The new residence was the Chelsea mansion purchased in 1681 from the Countess of Bristol for £5,000. Alterations to the house and gardens, 1682-4 cost a further £5,000, causing Evelyn to remark 'He might have built a better house with the materials and cost he has been at'. The king dined at Chelsea in 1683 and visited Badminton in 1686.
A further £34,000 was spent on daughters' portions, and jewels, furniture and plate were purchased 'worth at the least £12,000, but cost much more'. Much of the credit for the remarkable revival of the family fortunes must go to the 1st Duchess who managed the household and estate during her husband's frequent absences with great care and thoroughness. She left a detailed account of her stewardship and of 'what great things my excellent and dear Lord has done for the good of this noble family.' He was reputed to be the richest man in England, and was described by John Evelyn as 'a person of great honour, prudence and estate.'
Minorities and Trustees
The death of the 1st Duke in 1700 marked the end of an era. The change in the political climate in 1688 and in 1714 meant loss of office for the family and exclusion from national affairs for nearly a century. The line itself was in danger of becoming extinct until the 5th Duke's nine sons once more made it secure. The deaths of Charles, Marquess of Worcester, and of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Dukes at a comparatively early age resulted in minorities during which the estate was managed by trustees. The wills of the 1st, 2nd and 4th Dukes also gave rise to family disputes, prolonged litigation and the necessity of obtaining Acts of Parliament for the settlement of the estates. The wealth accumulated by the 1st Duke seems to have been quickly dissipated, and the estates were once again burdened with debt
The 2nd Duke (1700-1714) was never sent to school or university because the 1st Duchess was anxious to have him 'always in my sight' because the future of the family depended upon his health and life. As his guardian she managed his affairs until his marriage in 1702. The Duchess's guardianship, the Act of 1702 to settle his estates, and the Duchess's claim to the 1st Duke's personal estate were all contested by his mother, Rebecca (later Lady Granville), and led to bitter family quarrels and lawsuits.
The 2nd Duke continued planting and building at Badminton. Swangrove was built between 1703 and 1707 as a dining-place for hunting and pleasure parties, and in 1711 he was declaring to friends that beautifying Badminton was more rewarding than 'to lay it out in political notions and humouring an ungrateful Court.' Disenchanted with the political scene, he decided to reside at Badminton which he intended to make 'very fine'. He bought furniture and pictures costing £20,000, and had some specially made for Badminton. Unfortunately he died a few days before they reached Badminton and after his death they were claimed by his widow who the following year married the Earl of Dundonald.
From 1711-12 he instituted a thorough inquiry into the accounts of all his agents and bailiffs, and between 1711 and 1713 changed 'my whole Ministry.' He made a 'steady application to put my estate into a method'; reorganisation of the muniment room belongs to this period. Shortly before his death he was thinking of becoming 'my own steward and bailiff.' Had he lived, these changes might have secured honest and efficient estate administration; in the event he died leaving his affairs in great confusion (according to the trustees), and debts totalling £70,000. A series of fine estate plans and surveys by Joseph Gillmore was commissioned by the 2nd Duke.
The 3rd Duke (1714-1745) was only 7 years old when his father died, so his affairs and those of his brother, Lord Noel Somerset, were managed by trustees until they came of age. The trustees seem to have done their best to administer the estates efficiently. The accounts were well kept since they had to be produced in Chancery; Didmarton and Oldbury were purchased and the Chelsea house sold, and the estate was handed on intact in spite of the amount of debt paid off, although some of it was mortgaged. The receiver-general, John Burgh, and the London agent and lawyer, Michael Aiskew, seem to have been competent and trustworthy, but this kind of administration is not the same as having a person of the 1st Duke's calibre in charge of policy and providing personal supervision. The trustees were also involved in expensive litigation and family disputes throughout this period.
The 3rd Duke was a collector of works of art, and he began the reconstruction of Badminton in 1729. He was passionately fond of hunting, and acquired Netheravon in 1734 as a hunting seat. The Chelsea house was replaced by a leasehold property, Beaufort House in Grosvenor Street, in 1737. He seems to have had little interest in the management of the estates. His health had never been good, and under the strain of an unhappy marriage which ended in a divorce in 1744 it rapidly deteriorated; he died the following year 'worn out by a complication of disorders.' Mrs Delany commented that he was 'unhealthy in his constitution and unhappy in his circumstances' and in her opinion 'his brother is qualified to make a better figure.' Heavy debts on the estate dated from the 3rd Duke's time.
A contemporary described the 4th Duke (1745-1756) as 'a man of sense, spirit and activity.' He continued his brother's work at Badminton, bringing 'the famous Mr Kent' there in 1745, and Thomas Wright and Capability Brown soon afterwards. He also carried on the policy of adding to the Badminton estate, acquiring important properties in Sopworth, Sherston and Luckington. His marriage to Elizabeth Berkeley of Stoke Gifford in 1740 eventually brought the Stoke and Stapleton estate into the family.
On his death in 1756, however, the trustees found 'an immense load of debt' on the estate, dating back to the 3rd Duke's time. This was partly owing to the dishonesty of the receiver-general, Bertie Burgh, who had submitted no accounts since 1748 and owed the estate £8,000
The principal trustee during the 5th Duke's minority (1756-1765) was the Duchess's brother, Norborne Berkeley, Lord Botetourt; the Duchess was the Duke's guardian. A determined effort was made by the Duchess and the trustees to reduce the debt to manageable proportions without selling any important property. Acts of Parliament were obtained to allow the sale of the outlying parts of the estate - Dorset, Devon, Hampshire and Netheravon, and of Beaufort House and Beaufort Buildings in London. Beaufort Buildings was the only property which future generations might have wished to retain. Lord Clive's estate in Monmouthshire was bought with part of the proceeds. Plate made by the 3rd Duke by Thomas Germain in 1730 was also sold, as well as horses and stag hounds. The manor of Poston which had been settled by the 1st Duke on Lord Arthur Somerset was also disposed of by the trustees. The foundations of the 19th century system of accounting were laid at this time.
The estate of the 5th Duke (1765-1803) was not finally settled until 1777 when the trustees under the 4th Duke's will and of the Acts of Parliament submitted their final accounts. The Muniment room was completely reorganised at that date, forming the basis of the present system, and a production book recording withdrawal and replacement of documents was introduced about the same time. The same order and method are apparent in the keeping of the estate and household accounts which were strictly audited. The management of the Stoke and Stapleton estate was carried on under the close supervision of the Dowager Duchess, helped by the 5th Duke and the Badminton agent. On her death in 1799 the management of that estate was integrated with the Badminton estate. She had conveyed her interest in the Berkeley estates in Norfolk and Suffolk to the 5th Duke in return for an annuity in 1789, and the estates were sold 1791-1797. The Berkeley estate at Hilmarton also came to the Duke on her death, and this was sold in 1802. The Badminton estate was consolidated by the purchase in 1789 of the manors of Tormarton, Acton Turville and West Littleton. Combsend Farm in Old Sodbury which had been purchased by the 1st Duke was sold in 1795.
The 5th Duke found in Thomas Conway, his auditor and London financial agent 'a faithful and honest servant.' He was fortunate in persuading Edmund Estcourt not only to act as auditor and receiver-general, but to take on the management of the Welsh estates (to the detriment of his health and legal practice).
Some alterations and building work were carried out at Badminton House and the Grosvenor Square house which the Duke had acquired, but the only major undertaking was the rebuilding of Badminton church, 1783-5. The Duke rejected plans by Thomas Wright as too costly, and it was built to Charles Evan's designs.
The 6th Duke (1803-1835) commissioned a survey and valuation of the Badminton estate and of the Stoke and Stapleton estate by R.H. Wyatt in 1812. The surveys included a valuation, description of the present condition of the farms, and suggestions for improvements, especially drainage. A survey of the Tidenham and Woolaston estate and of the Monmouthshire estate with which it was administered was made the following year. The Tidenham and Woolaston survey was related to the process of inclosure there, 1810-15. A general revision of the rental was based on these surveys, and fluctuations in agricultural prices led to a further valuation and revision in 1830. Some drainage work was undertaken on the Badminton estate in the 1830s, but major improvements were not made until 1851-1877. These included not only drainage but new farm buildings and cottages. Adam Murray made a report in 1828 on the timber and plantations at Badminton, with suggestions for their general management, and this was followed in 1842 by his reports on the Badminton and Stoke and Stapleton estates. These detailed surveys and valuations included reports on the existing condition of the farms which in the case of the Stoke and Stapleton estate were for the most part 'shamefully neglected', observations on necessary improvements, and proposals for remodelling the farms, introducing better methods of cultivation and the use of 'new chemical discoveries' to improve wheat production.
In spite of these measures to improve the management of the estate and to obtain a higher landed income, the auditor was warning the 8th Duke (1853 - 1899) in 1856 about the necessity of avoiding a 'repetition of those difficulties that arose formerly from continuing a scale of expenditure on income totally inadequate to meet it.' He could not foresee much of an increase in income from the estate and urged the Duke to reduce his establishment expenses. The receipts from the rental were £55,000 but expenditure amounted to £68,000, of which nearly £30,000 went to pay interest on mortgages and bonds, and a further £6,000 on annuities. The 5th Duke had a large family to provide for, and the 6th, 7th and 8th Dukes also had extensive family commitments. The 7th Duke as Marquess of Worcester had also incurred considerable debts, including £20,000 as security for Beau Brummell. Both the 7th and 8th Dukes entertained on a grand scale and were great sportsmen.
In the last years of the century the agricultural depression was threatening the big estates and the grand style of living of the 8th Duke could not continue. Sales of Stapleton property had been made 1859-1865, and the sale of Tidenham and Woolaston followed in 1872. After the Marquess of Worcester's marriage in 1895, Badminton House was made over to him, and the Duke and Duchess retired to Stoke. A settlement of the estates on the Marquess of Worcester was made to avoid heavy succession duties, and a consolidation mortgage was arranged in 1898. These measures were not enough, and between 1899 and 1902 almost all the Monmouthshire estate was sold. Of all the places in Monmouthshire associated for centuries with the family, only Raglan Castle was retained. In 1938 it was placed under the guardianship of the Commissioners of H.M. Works by the 10th Duke of Beaufort, and is now maintained by Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments. Everything of family interest, including the panelling and mantelpiece (which originally came from Raglan) now in the Oak Room at Badminton, were brought to Badminton when Troy House was sold. After the death of the 8th Duchess in 1907, Stoke Park was first let and then in 1915 sold to the Revd. Harold Burden as the nucleus of his colony system for the mentally handicapped. It passed to the National Health Service and its future is now in doubt. The rest of the Stoke estate was sold at the same time as Stoke Park. Part of the Breconshire estate was also sold in 1915, and outlying portions of the Badminton Estate were sold in 1920-1922. In the 8th Duke's time the Gloucestershire estate comprised 16,600a. and Wiltshire, 2,000a. By 1948 the Badminton Estate (Glos. and Wilts) consisted of 12,000a. Portions of the Glamorganshire estate were also sold from 1918 - 1925. Of the 'ancient possessions' His Grace still retains the titles to the lordships of Gower, Crickhowell and Tretower.
THE BERKELEY ESTATES
Stoke and Stapleton
The Manor of Stoke Gifford was held by the Giffard family from the Conquest until 1337 when Maurice de Berkeley (2nd son of Maurice, Lord Berkeley of Berkeley Castle) gained possession. His descendant Sir William Berkeley was attainted after the battle of Bosworth, and his estates were seized, but Stoke Gifford was afterwards restored to him by Henry VII. Sir Richard Berkeley (1546-1604) purchased the manor of Rendcomb and the manor of Stapleton (a sub-division of the manor of Barton Regis) in 1564. The manor of Stapleton adjoined Kingswood, and by the 17th century, the Berkeley family in common with lords of other adjoining manors claimed a 'liberty' in Kingswood where they developed coal mines. The Crown contested the legality of such claims, and this led to frequent conflicts and litigation.
Sir Richard Berkeley built the first house at Stoke on a great artificial platform, and it remained substantially unchanged until 1750 when Norborne Berkeley (Lord Botetourt) rebuilt the house to Thomas Wright's designs. The rebuilding continued until 1763, and the house today is essentially as it was then. At the same time Wright designed a landscape park; Stoke Park is the only one of Wright's gardens to have survived. Thomas Wright was probably introduced to Norborne Berkeley by his brother-in-law the 4th Duke who was employing him at Badminton, but he soon became a close family friend, having his own apartments at Stoke Park. He was granted a handsome annuity by Norborne Berkeley, and after his patron's death in 1770, continued to visit Stoke and to advise the Dowager Duchess about alterations to the gardens there.
After the death of the 4th Duchess in 1799, the Stoke estate was inherited by the 5th Duke of Beaufort. It was used from time to time as a dower house until the death of the 8th Duchess in 1907, after which it was leased and finally sold in 1915 to the Revd H.N. Burden as the nucleus of his colony system for the mentally handicapped. The property passed to the National Health Service and its future is now in doubt.
The Berkeley family also developed the Lodge Colliery situated in their Kingswood liberty, and leased coal works from the Chester family in the 18th century. From 1775 the coal works were leased to the 5th Duke by his mother, and were inherited by him on her death. In the 19th century the collieries were leased out by the Duke's agent.
Norborne Berkeley entered into a partnership with William Champion and others, investing £5,000 in the Warmley Brass and Copper Company in 1762. This investment proved disastrous because of William Champion's dishonesty. It is said that the financial embarassment resulting from this venture caused Lord Botetourt to accept the Governorship of Virginia in 1768. He died in 1770, and it was many years before 5th Duke as his executor was able to settle this account
Norfolk and Suffolk
The Norfolk and Suffolk estates were part of the Norborne family inheritance which came to the Berkeley family through the marriage of John Symes Berkeley with Elizabeth, Lady Hereford, who was the daughter and co-heir of Walter Norborne of Calne. She inherited the whole estate after the death in 1728 of her sister Susan who had married Sir Ralph Hare. Brancaster and Burgate Farm were purchased by the executors of Mary Norborne's will (proved 1687), and settled on her grand-daughter Susan for life, and then on her children. They came to Lady Hereford after her sister's death without children. Brandeston Hall was acquired by Walter Norborne (their father) through his marriage in 1676 to Frances Bacon. The 4th Duchess conveyed her interest in the estate to the 5th Duke in 1789 in return for an annuity, and the estates were sold 1791-1797.
The Hilmarton estate which included the manor of Hilmarton and Goatacre and several farms was acquired by the Norborne family c. 1620. It descended to Walter Norborne of Calne who was killed in a duel in 1684, and was inherited by his two daughters Elizabeth (Lady Hereford) and Susan (Lady Hare). Lady Hereford came into the possession of the whole estate on the death of her sister without heirs in 1728. The estate was inherited by the 5th Duke on his mother's death in 1799, and was sold in 1802. The manor of Witcomb had been sold by Lady Hereford and John Berkeley in 1718 to pay off a mortgage on the Stoke estate.
The manor of Rendcomb was purchased by Sir Richard Berkeley in 1564. It passed to his grandson Richard Berkeley whose son, Sir Maurice, sold his reversionary interest in the Rendcomb estate to Sir William Guise of Elmore in 1635
These estates came to the Beaufort family through the marriage of Lord Noel Somerset (who became 4th Duke of Beaufort) with Elizabeth Berkeley in 1740. She was the sister and sole heir of Norborne Berkeley, Lord Botetourt who died unmarried in 1770. On her death in 1799 the 5th Duke inherited the Berkeley estates. The Norfolk and Suffolk estates had already been sold, and the Hilmarton estate was sold in 1802. The administration of the Stoke and Stapleton estate was integrated with the Badminton estate. Stoke Park was used from time to time as a dower house until the death of the 8th Duchess in 1907. Some sales of Stapleton property took place between 1859 and 1865, but the entire estate was sold during the First World War.