Clifford Manor

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Clifford Manor

Clifford Manor

“Our first halt was at Clifford Chambers – a village of a few well-to-do cottages on the Stour. But the pride of Clifford is its Manor House. Tall white gates in a high brick wall form the end of the turf-bordered road, called by courtesy the village street. Within the gates stands the old house.

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We peeped through the bars of the white gates that rose so stately between their stone pillars, and were presently invited in by the courteous owners.

A delicious old garden lay inside the high walls. A straight broad gravel drive led up to the front door, with smooth borders on either side, filled with every kind of fragrant old flower – clove pinks, white pinks, pansies and columbine, snapdragons and gorgeous larkspur. Beyond the borders, quince and apple, and nut trees grew among the peas and potatoes beside green alleys under sunny walls. On a side lawn near the house stood an ancient mulberry tree, propped with many posts, yet still bearing plenty of fruit.

Inside the house, everything of course was oak. In a delightful little sitting-room with a high carved mantel-piece, priceless old Worcester china heaped and crowded every table. We felt certain that, hidden away in corners, we should find great jars of pot-pourri made from the petals of the fragrant Damask Roses. It was a pretty summer picture altogether, as we turned away – open doors and windows, roses everywhere. Beyond the old moat, now part of a meadow, the pink and white stars of the wild rose shone twenty feet high among branches of black fir trees.”

- from an article written by Miss Kingsley appearing in ‘English Illustrated Magazine’ 1866

Anglo-Saxon History

The first known owner of the Manor plus land, plus 2 Mills – and more land! –was Algar, a great Saxon Thane (holder of lands by military service in Anglo-Saxon times ranking between nobility and freeman). It passed, on his death, to his son Brictic – and here comes the interesting bit! Brictic was sent by Edward the Confessor (who died in 1066 – just so that you know the period we are talking about!) to the Court of Bruges as an English ambassador. There, he caught the eye of a noble lass called Matilda. She was very much impressed with him. In fact, it seems she was besotted with him. He rejected all her advances, came back to England, and promptly forgot her!

She didn’t forget him! Her later marriage to William of Normandy brought her, eventually, to England. When her husband became King, she took her revenge on poor Brictic. He was sent to prison. His lands were confiscated and passed to – Queen Matilda! So, for a while, the Queen of England was our Lady of the Manor. I was so intrigued by this, that I named my daughter after her - much to her present disgust!

Soon after the Domesday Book was completed, the Manor, Mills and land were passed to the Benedictine Abbey and convent of St. Peter at Gloucester, and it remained in their hands for four centuries. And here comes another interesting bit! Up until the time the property came under the ownership of the Church, the Manor, plus buildings and land were known as Clifford. Nothing more! Now we have the ‘Chambers’ bit added! Any money or lands given to the Church were designated into different funds within the Church. This particular ‘offering’ called ‘Clifford’, was placed in a fund – or office – which kept the Abbot’s Chamber properly furnished. The one in charge of this fund or office was the Camerarius or Chamberlain – though I really do not know why ‘Chambers’ had to be added onto our particular village, when probably other areas were also financially helping this fund without having an ugly name like that added to their identity!

Past Owners

The book ‘Clifford Manor,a history’, lists names of free tenants, customary tenants and other tenants in 1266, but the only names I could recognize as village names were William ole Winnecote, Henricus de Wilicote and Rogerus Silvestre, though an interesting one was Adam Bruggemon (Bridgman) who had to keep the bridge in repair.

As for the owners, - once the property was taken away from the monks by Henry VIII (which, by now, boasted a Church and lands called Mounckes Close and Moorse Hill) - two were knighted, one was involved in the Civil War (and as he was a Royalist, was on the losing side, taken prisoner, then escaped!) One was a barrister-at-law and two were Vicars and became Rectors of Clifford Chambers. Their names you will recognise – Raynesford (later Rainsford), Dighton, Annesley, West.


From the Chronicles Anglo-Normandy I 73 Freeman iii 86 1070

“William the King 'forgetting it would seem that such hatred might be deemed to savour of love, granted his wife's prayer and imprisoned Britric - transferring all Brictric's land to The Queen Matilda

The Lordship of Tewkesbury, including the Manor of Clifford, thus became the property of Queen Matilda.

Before her death, the Queen conferred the Manor of Clifford to Roger de Busli (or Bushley). (It is held by one authority that Roger's wife Muriel was in some way connected with Matilda)

The Domesday Book

Roger de Busli is registered as the Lord of the Manor of Clifford


“In Clifford are:- - 7 hides pertaining to the Manor of Tewkesbury - 3 carucates in demesne - and 14 villans with 5 ploughs - and a mill worth 12s - two acres of meadow

Between the male and female serfs there are:- - 13 ploughs and a Church - and a priest with one carucature. The value 8l. now 6l.

This land the Queen gave to Roger de Busli· It is geldible for 4 hides in Tewkesbury Immediately after the compilation of Domesday - , Roger de Busli and Muriel his wife granted Clifford formally to the Benedictine Abbey and Convent of St. Peter at Gloucester

And the Parish deemed it none for Clifford to become:- CLIFFORD CHAMBERS - for the revenue from this land went to a specific office – that was - the Chamberlain.

The Chamberlains duties were the clothing of the monks and the proper furnishing and upkeep of the Abbot's Chamber - and the Guest Chamber – for hospitality was one of the first duties of a monastery

In 1266, four manors were contributing to the Abbot's Chamberlain - Clifford – Buckland in Devon – Guiting – and Hinton (see History of the Manor and Advowson of Clifford Chambers reprinted from the Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucester Archives)


(This custom of bequeathing lands to monasteries became one of the recognised ways of avoiding death duties. A Monastery was as reliable a manor-lord. The monks were enlightened farmers and led the way in mediaeval agriculture.)

Extent of the Manor of Clifford in 1226

There were five free tenants:- Robertus le Freman held by charter as an inheritance:-four virgates of land and two acres of meadow each of which virgates consists of 30 acres - paying 25 shillings and sixpence a year twice yearly .

IF he dies the lord of the manor has his house, his armour and accoutrements if he has any -  and IF on his death he leaves children under age, the Lord of the Manor has custody of his children and their lands, and controls their marrying.   And IF when he dies his heir is legally of age, he, the son, is to pay homage to his Lord and perform whatever service is due with his land

Radulphus de Eylestone lives on his land free - being one virgate of land containing 48 acres - BUT must follow the Earl of Warwick and do service for his lord at the Hundred of Kington and is liable for all services at the Court of Clifford. AND IF he dies, his heirs, land and hereditaments are subject to the same conditions as those of his senior in service Robert le Freman.

Henricus son of the Smith holds:- one virgate of land containing 48 acres for the same service in all things as has been said for Randulphus AND IF through default of the said Randulphus and Henricus, the lord of the manor shall suffer loss, the same shall owe him full indemnity.

Willelmus son of Symon holds one virgate of land containing 48 acres by charter and owes seven shillings a year for the same, paid twice yearly And he shall follow the court of Clifford. And if he dies all things shall be performed as for the said Randulphus. And he shall render whatever service is due with his land.

William son of Robert


Two mills which were wont to return sixty shillings and sixpence quarterly will be in the hands of the lord of the manor on the feast of the Annunciation next, because then the leases of the said mills will terminate.

William the Miller holds 12 acres of land for the term of his life and that of his wife, and returns thence ten shillings a year quarterly. He performs small customary duties which pertain to the land, instead of paying taxes.

The whole ville of Clifford pays yearly sixpence in common for certain small pastures.

Nicholaus Hentelove hold one messuage with courtyard and two acres of land and pays three shillings twice yearly. And he supplies labour according to the number of his animals. And he shall pay pannage (i.e. pay for the privilege of feeding his swine in the woods) namely for a full-grown pig one penny and for a young pig a halfpenny, until it is weaned or able to be weaned.

And if he brews in order to sell, he shall give 12 gallons of ale per ton (ad tonnutum) or as toll or its equivalent

And he shall redeem his son and daughter ( merchet or a sum of money for freedom of marrying). He shall not sell ox or horse without leave. And when he dies his lord shall have his best beast by way of heriot (melius averium suam nomine haerieti)

Adam Textor holds one messuage with courtyard and pays twelve pence twice yearly,. And he shall lift hay for his lord for four days, and it shall be worth two pence. And he shall do three bederipas (bedrip – a special duty at harvest time) and they shall be worth four pence halfpenny. And he shall perform other duties even as Nicholaus.

William Marescallus holds - do- with one acre of land and pays -do-

Alexander Sinne holds -do- and pays two shillings and sixpence twice yearly. And he does three bedrips of value fourpence halfpenny. And he shall help in lifting hay for his lord for four days to the value of two pence a day. All his other duties are similar to those of Nicholaus.

Hugo son of Laurentii -do- -do-

Thomas le Careter -do- -do-

Christina Widye holds a like tenement and she helps with the hay for four days to the value of two pence per day. And she does three bedrips to the value of fourpence halfpenny. And pays two shillings and sixpence twice a year. And all her other duties are similar to those of Nicholaus.

Matilda the widow of Galfridus -do- Christina

Johannes Lasteles -do-

Adam Bruggemon (Bridgeman) holds one messuage with courtyard and with certain pastures and pays two shillings twice yearly. And instead of all services he shall keep the bridge in repair. And there is there a certain annual toll from the whole ville of Clifford namely fifteen shillings of which ten shillings goes to the hundred of Theuk and five remains for the lord of the manor.

William de Winnecote holds five cottages in fee to his lord and pays nine shillings yearly and no other service to his lord except to the Court of Clifford. And he pays homage to the Abbot of Gloucester and when he dies his lord the abbot has the custody of his rents aforesaid and of his heirs until they are of age.

The sum of the rents of this class of tenant amounts to seventy-six shillings and six pence without the farm of the mills.

Customary tenant: Be it remembered that he has a larger holding. (This sentence is written in red ink)

Ricardus de Porta holds one virgate of land and half an acre of meadow, the virgate consisting of 36 acres. And he shall plough half an acre in the Autumn and half an acre in the Spring and he must harrow that land at seed-time. And it shall be worth fourpence altogether. And from the feast of St Peter in Chains he must in every week do manual labour for four days with one man, and for every day he is owed a halfpenny. And he shall provide transport to Gloucester twice a year to the value of eight pence. And he must also every week on the fifth or sixth day at the will of his lord provide transport to Hinetone and Boclande and he is owed for that day a penny halfpenny

And he shall wash and sheer his lord's sheep for two days and is owed a penny for whatever work is allotted to him on those days. And he must scythe his lord's meadow for four days and for any further day's work he is owed a penny. And he must help in the lifting of the crops of his lord for three days and more if necessary and he is owed a halfpenny for whatever days that are not allotted to this work. And he must carry the crops of his lord for one day and he is owed two pence beyond the manual labour of that day which can be valued at a half-penny. And he must carry firewood wheresoever the lord shall wish and he is allotted one day for that work. And he must do two bedrips before the feast of St Peter in Chains with two men and they are worth three pence.

And the total value before the autumn work is fourteen shillings and sixpence halfpenny

And from the feast of the Blessed Peter in Chains to the feast of the Blessed Michael he must work at his master's board (in messe domini) for five days with one man and it is worth a penny halfpenny each day. And he shall do eight bedrips with two men worth altogether two shillings. And he must carry his master's corn twice a week for four weeks worth a penny halfpenny each day beyond the manual labour. And he must bring his lord's sheaves to the grange for one day worth a halfpenny. And he must furnish help according to the amount of his land and number of animals. And if he brews to sell he must give twelve gallons of ale (ad tonnutum) or its equivalent price. He must pay pannage for his pigs. He may not sell horse or ox without leave. He must redeem his son and daughter. And when he dies his lord shall have his best beast by way of heriot.

The total value of his work in the autumn is eight shillings and a halfpenny.

Walter son of Yvon holds one virgate of land containing thirty six acres, and he does everything even as the said Richard. It is to be noted that he has a larger holding.

Each of the following 'holds one virgate and does everything even as the said Richard:-

  • Henricus de Wilicote
  • Alicia Williames
  • Nicholaus de Middletone
  • Matilda Adam
  • Relicta Johannis Rondulf
  • Willelmus le Orl
  • Ricardus Palmerius
  • Ricardus de Ovetone
  • Thomas Rawe
  • Nicholaus le Orl
  • Bertram Belami
  • Robertus filius Willelmi
  • Sampson Neweman
  • Johannes filus Willelmi

Item at Sileston: Galfridus de Forde holds one virgate of land containing 28 acres, and from the feast of St. Michael to the feast of St. Peter in Chains he must work with his hands every week for four days with one man, and it is worth a halfpenny each day. And he must supply transport twice a year to Gloucester, worth eightpence. And on the fifth or sixth day of each week he must supply transport to Hyntone or Boclande worth a penny halfpenny a day. And he must plough half an acre and harrow it at seed sowing; and he shall be free (of all other work) during his week of ploughing. And he shall tend and shear his lord's sheep for two days worth a penny. And he shall scythe his lord's meadow for four days worth twopence a day. And he shall help in lifting crops for four days worth a halfpenny a day. And he shall carry crops, and it shall be worth twopence beyond the manual labour of that day which may be taken as a halfpenny. And he must carry brushwood wheresoever his lord wishes. And he must do two bedrips before the first of August (ante Gulaustum) with two men and they shall be worth three pence. The rest he does even as Richard de Porta.

Each of the following 'holds one virgate of land and does everything even as the said Galfridus' - Willelmus de Rye - Thomas le Orl - Rogerus Silvestre - Radulphus Frankeleyn - Alicia Mauger - Ricardus Newcomene - Robertus de Forda.

Chrisina relicta Carectarii holds half a virgate of land and does half service in all things even as Galfridus.

All the aforesaid customary tenants give an annual aid of twenty shillings, and all owed mill-carriage, that is to say mill-stones to the lord's mill or they gave in common thirteen and a farthing.

Item – at Clifford there are four ploughs for the arable land in demesne and there are thirty six oxen for each plough eight oxen and four besides.

It must be remembered that the lord of the manor owes defence and arbitration to his tenants; he must be able to protect their property and persons, and must also provide a court of justice in the hall of the manor-house.

The successful working of the system depended on the personality of the lord of the Manor, whether these ancient dues remained constitutional or developed into tyrannical extortion.

Rectors of Clifford Church

  • 1274 – Robert le Wise
  • 1324 – Thomas de Bradwalle
  • 1344 – John Kyngcot
  • 1349 – John de Wynchecombe
  • 1361 – Richard Bundy
  • 1391 – William Wayte
  • 1458 – Thomas Jolyff
  • 1465 – Rocharfd Skardeburgh
  • 1467 – Hugh Cheswell
  • 1494 – John Dorseley
  • 1501 – Edward Frocester
  • 1513 – William Sklatter
  • 1533 – Abbot Parker
  • 1542 – John Browne
  • 1574 – Walter Roche
  • 1578 – Richard Faune
  • 1578 – Edward Vernon
  • 1585 – Hugh Powell (removed)
  • 1586 – Edward Vernon (reinstated)
  • 1603 – William Albright

A letter was sent regarding William Albright to the County Committee

Mr. Albright was considered “without doubt one of the Puritan intruders”. The Vicar of Quinton Wm Thornborough complained that he is being disturbed in his duties by William Albright clerk. The County Committee were directed to assist Thornborough and prevent these disturbances.

Mr. Albright had something to say for himself and appeared before the Committee at Goldsmith Hall in June 1648.

The Committee wrote as follows to the Commissioner of Plundered Ministers:-

“ Mr. Albright minister of Clifford has appeared alleging that he has preached constantly for one an a half years at Quinton on the parishioners' promise of allowance for his pains. There has been an increase in the living from the tithes of Edward Savage who has compounded and from these, Albright desires satisfaction.

“As you best know his deserts, make him such allowance as you think fit.

“Albright says that Mr. Thornborough is very meanly endued for his called 'not being able to put up any prayer but what he readeth'.

“Enquire into his sufficiency and let the inhabitants receive the benefit intended by the increase to the maintenance”

  • 1662 – Jaspar Moris
  • 1667 – Wm Watts
  • 1687 – Christopher Smith
  • 1729 – Richard Dighton
  • 1732 – Robert Goodall
  • 1734 – John Martin
  • 1776 – Stephen Mason
  • 1787 – John Brewer
  • 1793 – Arthur Annesley
  • 1803 – Arthur Annesley
  • 1845 – Framcis Annesley
  • 1879 – Francis Hanbury Annesley
  • 1895 – Rev Archibald Pippet

Owners of the Manor and lands

The Rainsford's possession of The Manor were:-

free warren lands tenemnts meadows woods and hereditaments called Wincott in the parish of Clifford: free warren in the manor of Clifford and in all lands meadows etc. to the said manor belonging: free warren in the manor of Aleston, free fishing in the waters of the Stower; the advowson of the church of Clifford; 2 messuages, one cotttage and 2 virgate of land in Clifford; 20 selions of land there late parcel of the demesne lands of Clifford; one parcel of meadow there called Brooke meadow; one messuage and half a virgate of land, meadow and pasture there in the tenure of Richard Wilkes, and of divers lands meadows pastures and hereditaments there.

All this changed when Job Dighton, barrister, took over the guardianship of Henry Rainsford, who inherited the property on the death on 10th April 1648 of his father. Henry Rainsford reached the age of 18 on 12th May 1648.

Henry, under age, took up arms for the King – was ruined with his family in the King's cause; made prisoner by the Parliamentary forces at Oxford. But managed to escape.

To compound his possessions, he had to lease the Lordship and Manor of Clifford and the Hamlet of Allston to his guardian Job Dighton for 99 years. A sum of money 1,371l. 3s 10d. He was then aged 26. He went overseas and died in East Indies unmarried.

From then on the Dighton family carried on with the succession of owners of The Manor and land.

Owners of the Manor and lands

The Rainsford's possession of The Manor were:-

free warren lands tenemnts meadows woods and hereditaments called Wincott in the parish of Clifford: free warren in the manor of Clifford and in all lands meadows etc. to the said manor belonging: free warren in the manor of Aleston, free fishing in the waters of the Stower; the advowson of the church of Clifford; 2 messuages, one cotttage and 2 virgate of land in Clifford; 20 selions of land there late parcel of the demesne lands of Clifford; one parcel of meadow there called Brooke meadow; one messuage and half a virgate of land, meadow and pasture there in the tenure of Richard Wilkes, and of divers lands meadows pastures and hereditaments there.

All this changed when Job Dighton, barrister, took over the guardianship of Henry Rainsford, who inherited the property on the death on 10th April 1648 of his father. Henry Rainsford reached the age of 18 on 12th May 1648.

Henry, under age, took up arms for the King – was ruined with his family in the King's cause; made prisoner by the Parliamentary forces at Oxford. But managed to escape.

To compound his possessions, he had to lease the Lordship and Manor of Clifford and the Hamlet of Allston to his guardian Job Dighton for 99 years. A sum of money 1,371l. 3s 10d. He was then aged 26. He went overseas and died in East Indies unmarried.

From then on the Dighton family carried on with the succession of owners of The Manor and land.


Alice daughter of Francis Keyt Dighton married Rev Arthur Annesley DD Trinity College Oxford, vicar of Chewton Mendip in Somerset. Their son Arthur Annesley applied for Rector in 1793. He and all the Rectors of that family from then on lived at The Manor until the Rev Pippet took Holy Orders at Clifford, and lived in a house he built for himself and his family.

The Manor and land then came into possession of the West family in 1865 - then Gratrix in 1903 – followed by Miss Kathleen Wills later Douty until her husband's death and then Mrs. Rees-Mogg on her marriage to Col. Rees-Mogg.


When I first came to the village in 1968, people could just remember a Mr. Gratrix as owner; “a very strange gentleman”; but their greatest memory was of Mrs. Douty, later Mrs. Rees-Mogg. She bought the Manor as Miss Kathleen Wills, younger daughter of Sir Frederick Wills (who made his fortune in cigarettes!) in 1909. On 21st September 1909, Miss Wills married Dr. Douty who was in practice at Cannes.

Wedding of Miss Kathleen Wills
The wedding of Miss Kathleen Wills and Dr. Edward Douty of Cannes took place on Tuesday afternoon at St. Paul’s, Knightsbridge. The bride was given away by her brother Sir Gilbert Wills and wore a white satin dress draped with old lace. Her five bridesmaids wore white chiffon dresses and pink and mauve sashes and their white chiffon hats were trimmed with pink carnations and silver leaves. No reception was held after the wedding owing to the recent death of Sir Frederick Wills, and the bride and bridegroom left early for their honeymoon which was to be spent at Stratford-upon-Avon.

Many costly gifts were received from the numerous friends of the bride and bridegroom. Among those who gave gifts were the Dowager Lady Cairns, Lady Carnarven and Princess Pless. It is stated that the newly married pair intend taking up their residence at Clifford Manor House.

- FROM THE STRATFORD-UPON-AVON HERALD dated 24th September 1909

In 1910, Dr. and Mrs. Douty restored to the Manor everything that had been sold in 1865 by the Annesley Family to the West Family of Alscot Park. (The Rev. Francis Annesley had bought back just the house from the West family in 1891 at the price of £2,079.). Now, in 1910, the Douty’s bought back the Manor Farm (and lands) from the Wests and, in 1911, bought from the Wests the advowson (the right to be Patron of Clifford Church and appoint Rectors), plus many cottages in the village.

Two years after her marriage, Mrs. Douty was left a widow with a baby son, Gilbert to bring up.

However, back to the Manor, Mrs. Douty, in the book she had printed in memory of her husband (compiled by Philip Hope Bagenal), had a description of how the Manor (or rather Priest’s house) might have looked in the days of long ago - “with clay and thatched outbuildings round it. A granary, a hall for the Court of Justice, a bakehouse, stables, a dovecot arranged round it, a moat on three sides, the river on the fourth, and the villagers’ clay houses forming a wide street approaching the Manor and Church.”


This original Manor or Priest’s house, dated about late 15th/early 16th Century, was still standing when, in 1918 an ancient but smouldering timber in a chimney spluttered into life one night. Mrs. Douty and her 8yr old son were in Bournemouth where Gilbert, the young boy was recovering from chicken pox. Only 2 maids and an odd-job-man were sleeping in the house, and they only became aware of it at 6.00am the next morning! One maid rushed down the village street in her nightgown and made enough noise to bring every man and boy out into the street. David Simmonds galloped on a farm horse to Stratford to summon the fire brigade. By the time the horse-drawn fire engine arrived, the fire had taken such a hold due to a strong wind blowing, that little of the original Manor was left.

This was a great shock to Mrs. Douty, for in her book that Mr. Philip Hope Bagenal had written, with her approval, came the following:- “A single stack of flues is grouped in the centre of the house with the stairs beside it. The fireplaces and flues are built of stone, and the stairs, though now of timber, were probably of stone in their original state. The masonry work would thus be a solid core in the centre of the house, and the danger of fire be minimised.”!!!!

The enclosed letter printed in the Stratford Herald dated 5th April 1918, is interesting:-

“Sir, I feel sure the deepest and most sincere sympathy is felt for our kind and generous neighbour Mrs. Douty, in the calamity that has fallen upon her in the destruction of her beautiful old manor house.

This lamentable fire has caused many to discuss the adequacy of the existing means available for dealing with such disasters. I am told the Stratford-upon-Avon fire engine did not arrive on the scene till one hour and a half after the fire had been discovered, and, but for the promptitude of Mr. James of Clifford in sending in his horses to bring out the fire engine, a further delay would have occurred. We all know that promptitude of action is all important at the outbreak of fire. I should like to ask what means are being taken to prevent the recurrence of such disastrous delays in the future? Are any arrangements being made to horse the fire engine, or is it to be left till the outbreak of a fire to hunt round the town for horses? Considering the valuable historical property in Stratford and the immediate neighbourhood, it seems to me – and I know I am expressing the opinion of a great many influentual people – it is time the town should possess a motor fire engine?

Francis H. Hodgson
Clopton April 3rd 1918”

Another letter followed from him in the Herald dated 17th April, stating that he was willing to subscribe £50 towards the purchase of an engine and two guineas per annum towards the upkeep. This offer was repeated in a letter the following week; this time from Mrs. Douty.

After the fire, another timbered and beautiful building was built on the ashes of the old Priest House, and Mrs. Douty had placed in the high brick wall running alongside the tradesmens entrance, a large bell to ring in emergencies to awaken the village!

Restoration of Clifford Manor after fire

Village Wedding

Col. Ress-Mogg

When I first arrived in this village in the late 1960’s, many people in the village could remember The Wedding, especially two ‘children’ who were invited with their parents to St. Margaret’s, Westminster, to see Mrs. Douty marry Col. Rees Mogg. Kath Salmon could remember with delight, how the car in which they were travelling back to Clifford, was mistaken for the bridal car. Mr. Ainley, Mrs. Douty’s Agent, had to hurriedly get out of the car to persuade the lads of the village to hold on to their ropes until the right car came along. Eventually it did, and the lads tied ropes round it, and the newly married couple were pulled along the village street to the Lodge (the Manor still being rebuilt after the fire) with Col. and Mrs. Rees Mogg regally waving to the villagers standing either side of the village street. Then, on arrival at The Lodge, they both stood up in the car and gave speeches even more regal! The bride had been treated very regally in the village for many years, due to Miss Wilding’s insistence that her pupils must either curtsey or take off their caps (depending on sex) when her car passed them.

(it is interesting to read that two of the bridegrooms’ guests at the wedding were Viscount and Vicountess Althorp – Princes Di’s grandparents!)

“On Wednesday afternoon at St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster, the marriage was solemnised of Veterinary-Major Graham B. C. Rees-Mogg 1st Life Guards, younger son of the Rev. H. J. and Mrs. Rees-Mogg of Midgham, Berkshire, and Kathleen, youngest daughter of the late Sir Frederick and Lady Wills of Northmoor, Dulverton, and widow of Mr. Edward Douty.

Sir Gilbert Wills, the bride’s brother, gave her away and Captain Astley, a brother-in-law of the bridegroom was best man. Troopers of the 1st Life Guards formed a guard of honour and trumpeters blew fanfares in honour of the bride and bridegroom. The bride’s dress was of deep cream charmeuse, veiled with pleated net draped with lace, and she wore a gold net toque with a gold lace veil, and carried a shower bouquet of red roses. She had no bridesmaids, but during the ceremony, her little son stood near her and held her bouquet.

The Dean of Westminster performed the rite assisted by the Rev. the Hon. Edward Lyttelton, and the Bishop of Gloucester gave the address. The second hymn was sung to a tune written by Mr. G. F. Bloomer of Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Among those present were……..Viscount and Vicountess Althorp, and the Rev. F. H. and the Hon Mrs. Hodgson.

The village of Clifford Chambers was gaily decorated with flags and floral arches for the auspicious occasion, and on the arrival of Major and Mrs. Rees-Mogg in the evening, the villagers assembled en masse by the New Inn, attached ropes to the motor-car, and so escorted the occupants to Clifford Lodge. Rose-petals and confetti were showered upon the happy couple, and a tiny jet-black Persian kitten was handed to the bride as a mascot.

The bride and bridegroom thanked the villagers for their kind and hearty reception. Peals were rung on the Church bells during the evening. Presentation

Last evening (Thursday) practically the whole village assembled to make two presentations to the bride and bridegroom.

The Rev. F. H. Hodgson (Rector of Clifford) presided, and among those present were the Rev. W. A. and Mrs. Pippet, Miss Pippet, Messrs. J. R. Black and John James (Churchwardens), Mr. J. R. Steele, Mr. and Mrs. Matters etc. The Rev. F. H. Hodgson said that he felt that was a great red-letter day in the history of the Parish of Clifford. They were met there that evening to give a hearty welcome to Major and Mrs. Rees-Mogg. He was sure they all wished them every happiness in this world, and they were there to present them with a parish gift. The speaker proceeded to graphically describe the wedding service at St. Margaret’s, Westminster at which he was present, and he mentioned that in all his long life (and he had been to a good many marriage services) he did not think he had ever attended a more beautiful ceremony, or a more impressive one.

The gifts, Mr. Hodgson continued, had been subscribed for by the parishioners and tenants, and also Mr. Oliver Baker who had his share in it as well. It was an expression of their affection and gratitude for all Mrs. Rees-Mogg had done for the parish since she had come to live at the Manor and he was sure she would accept it with a great deal of pleasure.

Mr. Hodgson then presented the bride and bridegroom with a Cromwellian leather settle, with oak feet, which is about 300 years old, and also a Ruskin bowl from the children.

Col. Rees-Mogg

In reply, Mrs. Rees-Mogg said that she did wish to tell them how deeply she appreciated the splendid present that they had given them. They had shown to her husband very clearly that which she knew already – that at Clifford they were surrounded by most kind, warm and hearty neighbours and friends. Through the days of sorrow and years of loneliness and through the dreadful disaster, they had all given her proof of their goodwill and sympathy. She was glad that their marriage did not mean saying goodbye as so often was the case after marriages. In that case, it only meant that instead of finding two friends at The Manor (for they must count her son Gilbert) they would in future, she hoped, find three. (applause). They had made their homecoming delightful with the glorious welcome they had given them, and she thanked them all a thousand times for it, and for the beautiful presents they had given them. Those were tokens of good wishes which they would value all their lives.

The bridegroom also spoke, and in the course of a short speech thanked them all for their hearty welcome the previous night. He was not unacquainted with village life, having had his home, when on leave, at a village rectory or vicarage, and he added that he was sure they would be lenient with him if he did anything which might not meet with their approval. He again thanked them for the welcome and the presents, after which the bride announced that there was a piece of wedding cake for each one. Loud cheers were given for the bride and bridegroom following the presentation and after each had received a neat packet of wedding cake, the ceremony terminated.”

Gilbert Douty

Rees-Mogg family with young Gilbert Douty

Gilbert was sent to a boarding school and was only seen in the village during holidays. However, on his 21st birthday, he was given a sports car by his mother – and everyone saw him in the village then! In fact, his mother, very concerned at the speed with which Gilbert drove his new possession through the village, made a point of finding out from her son when he was intending to go out his in his car! Then word was sent round the village, so the mothers would keep their small children off the street until Gilbert was safely on his way out of the village. There was not much warning however, when he came home from his excursions, and the villagers would watch him roar up the village street, and hope children would have the sense to scurry out of his way. Those working in the Manor gardens would see the cloud of dust as Gilbert’s car came up the drive, and the car, with a quick turn, would skid to a stop with the gravel spitting against the front door of the Manor.

Mrs.Rees-Mogg was quite an attractive woman, not tall; in fact she looked quite small compared to Col. Rees-Mogg’s towering height. She suffered terribly from asthma, and was very sympathetic towards her tenants who also were ill, particularly those with breathing problems. She would go to great trouble at re-housing them in one of her other cottages in an attempt to relieve their suffering.

Her attempts at motherhood were not very successful however! With Gilbert losing his father before he was two, there was no man in his life to discipline him. In her loneliness of widowhood, his mother had given him everything he wanted. By the time Col. Rees-Mogg turned up in Gilbert’s life, Gilbert had become a very spoilt twelve-year-old child, and made it quite clear that he did not like his step-father disciplining him! I have been told that, as Gilbert became older, Col. Rees-Mogg stayed away from him as much as he possibly could, walking out of the back door as soon as Gilbert walked in the front!

Kath Salmon could remember, on sunny Sundays, the Misses Lupton cycling from Stratford to play afternoon tennis at the Manor.

Tragically, Gilbert died from an accident in his late twenties.



A DETECTIVE OFFICER ATTACHED TO THE Chief Constable’s office at Northallerton, North Riding, is continuing his investigations today into the strange death of Mr. Gilbert Edward Frederick Douty (aged 28), member of a well-known Midland family, following a dance in the village hall at Oswaldkirk on July 2 last.

The inquest was opened yesterday and adjourned until July 21. Only formal evidence was given by the young man’s stepfather, Lieut.-Colonel Graham Rees-Mogg of Clifford Manor, near Stratford-on-Avon, and Prince’s Gate, London S.W.

Mr. Douty had driven away from the dance in his car, accompanied by a young woman, when a missile struck one of the windows. He got out to investigate, and it is believed that he was then struck over the head.

He was admitted to a York nursing home, where he developed pneumonia and died yesterday.

The police have made a number of enquiries in the village, but have been unable to trace anyone who saw anything of the incident.

‘No one knows anything at all about it. I don’t think it was anything to do with any of the villagers,’ the postmistress at Oswaldkirk told a reporter. ‘Ours is a very respectable village.’

A close acquaintance of Mr. Douty told a reporter that the incident occurred some time after 2.a.m. on July 2. After Mr. Douty had left the dance, he was knocked unconscious, and with the execption of a few brief intervals, he did not regain consciousness. The only person he recognised was his mother.

Mr. Douty, who was educated at Eton and Cambridge, was undergoing training in the estate office of the Earl of Feversham at Helmsley, a few miles away from Oswaldkirk. He is the son by her first husband of Mrs. Rees-Mogg, formerly Miss Kathleen Wills, sister of Lord Dulverton, chairman of the Imperial Tobacco Company.

Though ill herself, Mrs. Rees-Mogg travelled north with her husband the day after the accident, and she has not yet returned to Stratford-on-Avon.

The funeral has been arranged for Thursday afternoon July 14th, at Clifford Chambers Parish Church.”


From Peter Stenson, Claines, Worcestershire:

My Mother, Doreen (known as Dorrie) Marjorie Stenson nee 'Roythorne' went to work at Clifford Manor on 4th May 1936. She was then aged 16. She was employed as an under-house-maid for the grand sum of seven shillings a month!
The other staff she remembered were: - Mr. Hall, carpenter and outside work - Mr. Salmon 'odd man' and gardener - Mr. Holman butler - Caroline head housemaid - 'George' hall boy (irrespective of their real name all the hall boys were called George!). 'James', footman (whose real name was actually George but had to be called 'James' for the same reason as the hall boys being called 'George') Gilmore 'Gillie' Whittle footman - Mrs. Yateman cook - Mary Owen kitchen maid - Kitty Jenner second scullery maid (she could not be called by her proper name Kathleen, as it was Mrs. Rees-Moggs first name) - Lillian head scullery miad.
Kitty and Mary were my Mum's best friends at Clifford and, although the work was hard and the hours were long, she did recall having lots of fun too. Mrs. Rees-Mogg was known as one of the more enlightened and kind employers that my Mother worked for.
Mother had to be up at 5.00am. Her first job was to collect and empty all the slops from the bedrooms in a bucket.
One morning when the house was full of guests, she rushed into the servants' bathroom where she poured her slops into the lavatory. She rinsed out the bucket and turned to leave the bathroom only to discover that the bath was occupied by the Bishop of Gloucester! Fortunately there was a good covering of soap bubbles floating on the water. She hurried red-faced from the bathroom.
The next time she saw Dr. Arthur Caley Headlam was on Wednesday February 24th 1937, when he confirmed my Mum and Kitty at the village Church.
Mrs. Rees-Mogg was very keen that all her staff attended Church regularly. She presented Mother with a signed Book of Common Prayer within weeks of her starting at the Manor, and insisted that she get herself confirmed as soon as possible. After the confirmation, she also presented Mother with a signed copy of 'Daily Light on the Daily Path'. The Rector F Meridith Brookes also presented a Plain Communion Book. Mrs. Rees-Mogg also supplied some rather nice light grey material so Kitty and Mum could make confirmation dresses.
Mother's other early morning jobs, were to clean and lay fires in all the occupied bedrooms. She was terrified of dropping anything in the grate and waking the sleeping occupant. She also had the main stairs to sweep with a brush and dustpan. No wonder she had painful knees in later life.
One of her least favourite jobs was washing a long green-tiled corridor which had to be cleaned with stale milk. This had to be collected from outside the dairy. Mother used to cheat by adding hot water to stop her hands freezing on very cold mornings.
Mrs. Rees-Mogg, not surprisingly, had a fear of fires and one of the first things Mum had to do when she started, was to have fire practice. The local Fire Brigade was in attendance and, after a demonstration, all the staff had to slide out of an upstairs bedroom window, and down a canvas tube. All the female staff had to pin their dresses up to prevent the men waiting at the bottom of the tube, from seeing their knickers!
All sorts of fun started as soon as the family left the Manor for various social events. One one occasion, the footman chased the shrieking housemaids around the garden with a snake in a basket. 'James' also donned a lion-skin, complete with stuffed head and jumped out on the kitchen maid who was on her way up the stairs. In the chase that followed, he managed to scratch her cheek with one of the lion's claws. She had a permanent reminder of her lion attack.
Colonel Rees-Mogg had a rather distinctive speech impediment and seemed to spend quite a lot of time in bed with real or imagined illness. Although my Mother tried to creep quietly past his bedroom one mid-morning, he called out “Dorrween! Dorrween - ask Holman to bwing me the Daily Miwaa”. Why a person in his position should be reading the Daily Mirror remains a mystery.
During the early years of the war, there was a plane crash nearby and Moses, one of the scruffy terriers that roamed about the buildings and gardens, brought home a souvenier of the crash – a human finger, which he left on the lawn. On another occasion – a quiet afternoon when sitting in the garden over-looking the river, the staff were upset by the arrival of the otter-hounds in full cry.
My Mother also remembers the great upset that was caused when Gilbert Douty was killed after being hit on the head by a bottle.
At Christmas time, the family provided gifts for all the staff and we still have the amber necklace that Mother received in 1938.
In 1940, at the prompting of her father, my Mother applied to the Air Ministry instead of going into the forces, for a job as a clerk. She had no sooner started, then she was moved to Worcester where she later met my Father.
Mother died after a short illness in April 2012 aged 92.