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WEDDINGTON CASTLE - An Online History


Other Halls and Castles Around Nuneaton - Caldecote Hall

Click on thumbnail for larger image. Scroll down for more images and a history of this building. You can click here to access our sister-site 'Caldecote Hall Estate' for more detailed information on this building.

Caldecote Hall in 2008

With the Atherstone Hounds, Caldecote, November 4th 1907

The Atherstone hunt, pictured at Caldecote Hall 9th November 1908

Early colour postcard of Caldecote Hall

Early postcard of Caldecote Hall

Caldecote Hall in 1926, upon opening as a 'Home for Inebriates' *

Caldecote Hall in 1926, Minstrel's Gallery *

The restored gallery and atrium in 2008 (computer-generated image)

Caldecote Church

Caldecote Church today

Caldecote Church **

The Old Rectory, Caldecote

The East Wing

The original door of the Hall (now at the Church), still bearing gun shot marks from the Civil War

The Stable block at the Hall

An aerial view of the grounds

Stained glass windows from the Hall

A drawing room in one of today's new flats at Caldecote Hall

A bathroom in one of today's new flats at Caldecote Hall

A bedroom in one of today's new flats at Caldecote Hall

A breakfast bar in one of today's new flats at Caldecote Hall

A kitchen in one of today's new flats at Caldecote Hall

Local early C19th residence on Weddington Lane. Reputed to be the former gate house to Caldecote Hall

 

Caldecote, the neighbouring parish to Weddington, was a small farming estate based around the Hall, and still retains its rural character to this day. The Estate of Caldecote has had a rich, turbulent and sometimes illustrious past. It was registered in the Domesday Survey of 1086 as being in the ownership of the Bishop of Chester when it was valued at the princely sum of 60 shillings. There followed a long period of wrangling over its ownership and either through litigation or through the powers vested in some of the more tyrannical of our Monarchs, the Manor passed through the hands of a series of owners including King Henry VIII, Edward VI and Charles II.

 

The Hall itself became home to the Purefoy family - an ancient family of Warwickshire landowners. Caldecote Hall is perhaps best know for being besieged by Royalists during the English Civil War.

In 1642, Prince Rupert, a nephew of Charles I, had come with his troops from Holland to support his Uncle. He assembled them at Tuttle Hill, Nuneaton, with the intention of capturing Colonel William Purefoy, Member of Parliament for Coventry, and a staunch and active Parliamentarian. On 28 August 1642, he marched with his men against Caldecote Hall, but the Colonel was not in residency, so he lived to tell the tale. Nevertheless, a siege of the Hall ensued, and a number of Rupert’s soldiers were killed.Caldecote Hall

Little did he know that the defendants of this prize, against his well trained soldiers, were just Mrs. Joane Purefoy, her maids, her son in law George Abbott, and eight men. The maids repeatedly loaded the armoury of twelve muskets.

Rupert was thwarted by this sterling band, but succeeded in setting fire to the building to drive them out. The house was burned to the ground, but Rupert recognised the bravery of his opponents, and did them no harm. He even asked George Abbott to join his ranks, an offer that he declined.

Colonel Purefoy’s convenient absence led him later to be one of the signatories to the Death Warrant of Charles I. However, at the time of the Restoration of the Monarchy, all Purefoy Estates were confiscated by the Crown due to his anti Royalist actions.

The only part of the Hall to be reclaimed from the charred remains was the oak hall way door, which remains to this day as the door to the porch of the adjacent Parish Church of St. Theobald and St. Chad. This door, said to have hinges from the 13th Century, was peppered with bullets, and today is a poignant reminder of that day in 1642. The church contains an alabaster monument dedicated to George Abbott for his valiant defence of the Hall.

 

The book "Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales: Volume II" by John Timms and Alexander Gunn (published by Frederick Warne & Co. 1872) contains the following account of the attack: "On the borders of Leicestershire, is Caldecote, the church of which contains a monument of Mr Abbot, who defended Caldecote Hall, who died there in 1648. On the 28th of August, 1642, this seat, the noble mansion of the Purefoys, was attacked by Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice, at the head of eighteen troops of horse, when Mr Abbot, assisted by only eight men besides his mother and her maids, successfully defended Caldecote Hall against the assailants; and it is not known that any of the family were hurt."

The Hall was extensively rebuilt in 1880. The 1881 Census shows a population of one hundred and ten people, in twenty six houses. Fifty three males and fifty seven females. Interestingly, only two people were born in the village, the rest imported by the Lord of the Manor, no doubt from his other Estates.

Samuel Carpenter was the game keeper, William Sketchley the Foreman of the stone quarry and George Friend, John Bailey and George Meek were carpenters. William Matthews was a plumber and William Bott and John Bowler were gardeners Widower James Pretty was the organist for the nearby Church, plus the customary half a dozen wenches who were in domestic service. A little-known footnote to Caldecote Hall's history: on December 23, 1834, Joseph Hansom patented and invented the Hansom Cab whilst living at Caldecote Hall with Dempster Heming's family. Since this time, the Hall has functioned as a private residence of the Townsend family, a r
etreat for treatment of "Neurasthenia and other Nervous Ailments resulting from Mental Strain, Drugs and Alcohol Addiction" : you can read a contemporary article (in pdf format) about C
aldecote Hall's conversion into a "home for inebriates" in 1926 by clicking here.*. Later the Hall was a school and - following a severe fire in 1955 - private flats. In 2005 a new develop took over the estate and has commenced a programme of major refurbishment of the Hall, converting the private residences and restoring a number of features destroyed by the fire. 

 

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Whilst Caldecote Hall has long been converted into flats, its impressive exterior has been sympathetically maintained by developers. However, the Hall and its surrounding 35 acre estate are private grounds, for residents' use only, and are not open to the public. The Church, which lies within the private grounds of the Hall can be accessed via an agreed pedestrian route.

 

It was, until recently, possible to gain an insight into this magnificent building by visiting www.caldecotehall.co.uk. This site, whilst maintained by the Hall's previous developers, contained some fascinating historical detail and images of the Hall both past and present. As of May 2009 this site was discontinued.  Sadly, the current owners seem uninterested in maintaining a website about this historically important building.  Despite a request from Weddington Castle Online to maintain this website, no response has been received. Therefore we have registered our own website address from June 2010 at www.caldecotehall.org.uk where you will find a wealth of historical information as well as some contemporary photographs of this local historical gem.  
 



Grateful acknowledgement to Tony Davis whose article 'Caldecote, A Shy Vilage Under Attack' (2001) forms the basis of this history.  

 

* H. H. AYSCOUGH (1926) A NEW HOME FOR INEBRIATES: CALDECOTE HALL, NUNEATON. Published in "Addiction" Volume 23 Issue 3 Page 137-139, January 1926

** (c) Warwickshire County Council 2003

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