The Wodehouse, Wombourne

The Wodehouse is the house at the heart of an ancient estate in Wombourne, Staffordshire. It was acquired by Samuel Hellier in the early 18th century and as the favoured residence out of London was largely developed by the Hellier family.

The Wodehouse, Wombourne in early 1890s. From Molly Evans's Postcard Collection

The Wodehouse, Wombourne in early 1890s. From Molly Evans’s Postcard Collection

The 18th century garden was laid out by Sir Samuel Hellier in the 1770s.

Moat at the Wodehouse, Wombourne in about 1900. From Molly Evans's Postcard Collection

Moat at the Wodehouse, Wombourne in about 1900. From Molly Evans’s Postcard Collection

The property was left to his friend the Rev Thomas Shaw in 1786.

In 1800 the Staffordshire historian Rev Stebbing Shaw said of Thomas Shaw’s further alterations.

“He has much repaired it for his residence. It is situated at a proper distance from the public road in a very retired and picturesque valley, under a steep wood, in which the late owner (Sir Samuel) had cut many beautiful walks leading to several objects of curiosity and amusement particularly a well-designed hermitage and an excellent music room”.

After Thomas Shaw-Hellier’s death in 1812 the Wodehouse passed down the male line to his son James, then his son Thomas and eventually in turn his son Thomas Bradney Shaw-Hellier. For the full list of his descendants click here.

Here is a description of the house from 1896 Kelly’s Directory of Staffordshire:

“The Wodehouse, the property of Col. Thomas Bradney Shaw-Hellier J.P. has been beautifully restored, under the direction of Messrs. Bodley & Garner, architects, of London; it dates from A.D. 1500, and contains a fine collection of old oak furniture, china and paintings”.

G.F. Bodley had worked on the house in the 1870s. In 1895-97 his former employee and pupil C.R. Ashbee was commissioned to build a new chapel and a billiard room.

Ashbee's chapel (right) at the Wodehouse, Wombourne in about 1900. From Molly Evans's Postcard Collection

Ashbee’s chapel (right) at the Wodehouse, Wombourne in about 1900. From Molly Evans’s Postcard Collection

Below is a picture of Col. Thomas Bradney Shaw-Hellier hosting a fete in the grounds of the Wodehouse in about 1900 shortly after his marriage. The lady next to him is Florence Eliza Marten, his cousin Henry Evans‘s wife.

Fete at the Wodehouse, Wombourne in about 1900. Col. T.B. Shaw-Hellier on the right. From Florence Marten's Photo Album

Fete at the Wodehouse, Wombourne in about 1900. Col. T.B. Shaw-Hellier on the right. From Florence Marten’s Photo Album

In about 1907 Thomas Bradney Shaw-Hellier passed the estates to his nephew Evelyn. In 1912 further alterations to the house were made by J. and H.E. Lavender of Wolverhampton.

Evelyn’s only son Arthur was killed at Gallipoli in Aug 1915. The line continued on living in the Wodehouse until 1981 with the death of the last of Arthur’s  two spinster sisters Dorothy and Evelyn Mary.

The Wodehouse, Wombourne in about 1930. From Eric Benton, the husband of Grace Agard Evans

The Wodehouse, Wombourne in about 1930. From Eric Benton, the husband of Grace Agard Evans