#52ancestors: Close to home

This photo has been hanging in my hall since we bought our house in the early 1990s.

I had to write a house history for one of my University of Strathclyde assessments. I chose Welton Place, a very grand house in my village. It was demolished in 1972. My house, and several others, were built on the site. When we moved into our house in the 1990s, we were given the photo at the top of this post. I always wondered about its history, so here is an abridged version of my research.

The Clarke family lived in Welton since about 1590. Welton Place has been in the family for over 200 years. It was built by Joseph Clarke (1697-1773) in the 1750s. Joseph never married. On his death, in 1773, the estate passed to his brother, Richard CLARKE (1699-1774). Richard had two children by his first wife, Frances GARDNER; a son John who died in childhood and a daughter, Frances. When Richard died in 1774, Welton Place passed to Frances’ son, John PLOMER, on the condition that he changed his last name to CLARKE.  This he did, by private Act of Parliament, in 1775. The family tree below shows how John Plomer was related to Joseph and Richard Clarke.

Apart from two brief periods, 1833-1851 and 1906-1946, the CLARKE family lived in Welton Place. The family tree below shows John Plomer CLARKE’s descendants up to the last member of the family to live in the house, Richard Alexander Owen CLARKE.

Engraving from J. P. Neale’s ‘Views of the seats of noblemen & gentlemen’, c. 1825

Welton Place was a very grand house. There is very little information about the internal features but several pieces of art, including a Gainsborough and a Canaletto, were hanging in the drawing room. The gardens near the house were landscaped as parkland. The hill at the back, which forms part of our garden today, was planted as forest and shrubbery. Many of the trees still exist and have preservation orders. In front of the house was a man-made lake. Today the houses on the south side of the road back onto it.

Welton Place was leased to Sebastian Henry Garrard in 1906. Sebastian was the senior partner in the Crown jewellers, Garrard and Co Ltd. The company created pieces for the coronations of Kings George V and VI. There was a village story that George VI used to stay at Welton Place before he became king.

Image taken from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Saturday November 3 1928. That’s my garden wall!

The Garrard family took an active part in village and county life while they lived in Welton. Events live the Welton Flower Show and fetes in support of charities were often held in the grounds of the house. The Pytchley Hunt often met at Welton Place.

The last member of the Clarke family to live in Welton Place was Richard Alexander Owen (1893-1967). Richard was a career soldier. He joined the Royal Artillery as a Lieutenant in 1916, rising to the rank of Captain by the end of WW1. At the outbreak of WW2, he re-joined the Royal Regiment of Artillery as a Major. He was attached to the 5th Searchlight Regiment, stationed in Malaya and was captured on 15 September 1942 at the fall of Singapore. He was made a temporary Lieutenant-Colonel and spent the duration of the war as a Japanese prisoner in Singapore and Thailand. He was liberated on 2 September 1945.

Prisoner of war record for Richard Clarke.

In 1947, the house was converted into flats. The plans, held at Northampton Record Office, give an indication of the internal dimensions of the house.

The estate was sold to builders in 1960. The house itself was finally demolished in 1972.

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