Researching and archiving the history of Leek Wootton & Guy’s Cliffe Civil Parish
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Leek Wootton & Guy’s Cliffe History: Chesford

Joseph Hinks was a very successful lamp manufacturer from Birmingham whose family appears in the 1881 Census in Milverton, Leamington Spa. He and his wife Frances had seven children, the last two Bertram aged six and Ernest aged two, having been born in fashionable Leamington Spa. Joseph and his father James ran their business from 91 Great Hampton Street, Birmingham, and they were described as ‘lamp, incandescent, gas and electric fittings manufacturers’. In 1900 Joseph leased land from Lord Leigh and built Chesford Grange for his large family and accompanying servants. The house was built with no expense spared and the family continued living at Chesford Grange until, in 1908.

Chesford’s new owner was Lord Algernon Malcolm Arthur Percy from nearby Guy’s Cliffe. He was the second son of the 6th Duke of Northumberland and had been educated at Eton and Oxford. His career included the Grenadier Guards and he eventually became an MP. He bought Chesford for his daughter Katherine Louise Victoria who, in 1904, had married her distant cousin Josceline Reginald Heber-Percy. The family moved from Chesford Grange to Guy’s Cliffe, certainly before 1924, probably to help Katherine’s elderly parents run the estate.

By 1924 the new owner of Chesford Grange was Henry Pratt. The Pratt family was still at Chesford in 1935 but in 1938 Henry Pratt died and the Hames family, who had to move from The Gatehouse at Kenilworth Castle, heard that Chesford was empty and successfully took up residence in late 1938. They found that the property had been uninhabited for some time but having been built of quality materials simply required lots of ‘elbow grease’ to make it good again. The family lived in part of the house, using other areas as a hotel/restaurant. Regular dances and visits from day-trippers ensured they did well.

Soon after the start of the Second World War Chesford was requisitioned by the War Department and used as the Rover design centre. Some time later the house apparently became a Borstal institution before reverting to a hotel and, by 1956, Chesford Grange Hotel was being run by a Mr Richardson.

In recent times ownership of the hotel has changed several times, and in the mid-1980s it actually changed hands four times in six years. Successive owners have continued to expand the property.

Extracted from ‘Leek Wootton and its Hamlets

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