Researching and archiving the history of Leek Wootton & Guy’s Cliffe Civil Parish
Contact : historygroup@leekwoottonandguyscliffe.org.uk

Leek Wootton & Guy’s Cliffe History: The Hayes (formerly Wootton Court)

The origins of Wootton Court date from the 1860s, although it was not originally known by this name. Margetts of Warwick sold the newly built house and fifty-one acres of land at auction at the Warwick Arms Hotel on 1st September 1860 on behalf of Edward King, and it was purchased by a Carl Frederick Trepplin. Of Prussian descent, Carl Trepplin had made his money in Cheshire as a cotton broker before moving to Warwickshire.

He sold the Green Hayes estate to Francis Beresford Wright in 1882.

Francis immediately expanded the house, enlarged the lake and improved the garden. The name of the house was changed to Wootton Court, as his cousin already owned a property called The Hays. The family often abbreviated the name, referring to the estate as just ‘Wootton’.

Francis Beresford Wright died of a heart attack in 1911, and an obituary in the Leamington Spa Courier recorded him as “a liberal and unostentatious helper of charitable and philanthropic societies and institutions” who was “regarded with high esteem by all who were acquainted with him”. Francis’s widow Adeline remained at Wootton Court until her death in 1924.

Wootton Court was inherited by their son, Arthur FitzHerbert Wright. Wootton Court was a very happy family home, with the older children keeping an eye on the younger members of the family. The children were expected to show good manners to each other and to be polite to members of staff at all times. Arthur and Daisy instilled in their children the philosophy ‘that from those to whom much has been given, much would be required’, in other words, privilege meant responsibility.

Arthur was seventy-four when War was declared on 3rd September 1939. He supervised the running of the estate with his usual good humour and was determined to do all he could for the war effort. Wootton Court gave shelter to many people during the War, especially to nurses who worked at Warwick Hospital, and when family members visited the injured servicemen convalescing at Woodcote, they often stayed overnight at Wootton Court. When Coventry was bombed many people, often with children, would walk out of the city into the countryside after work, to escape the night-time bombing. Arthur would stand at the bottom of the drive and invite them to come in for shelter for the night. He would not normally select men on their own, but families with children, women or old people. Sometimes the house was so crowded that people even slept under the billiard table.

Arthur FitzHerbert Wright died in 1952, aged 86 years, and was mourned by his family and employees. The Wootton Court Estate was sold to Aubrey Jones, a Coventry builder. Arthur’s widow and his two daughters moved to Stone Edge.

Following Aubrey Jones’s acquisition of the estate in 1952, it was efficiently managed as a mixed farm with traditional crops. In 1972 the house and seven-acre walled garden were sold to M J K (Mike) Smith, the Warwickshire County and England cricketer, who converted them into a country club with both squash and tennis courts, whilst members of the Jones family continued to run the farm.

In 1987 the property changed hands again, when it was sold to Gordon Barrow, a local hotelier. In 1990 Wootton Court Country Club and Wootton Court Farm were sold, together with other farmland and woods, to eventually become The Warwickshire, which fulfilled one of Aubrey Jones’s original ideas of building a golf course. The original plans to erect an associated 150-bedroom hotel are no longer being pursued, and The Hayes is now to be converted into apartments.

Extracted from ‘Leek Wootton and its Hamlets’

The above extract was published in 2001.  Since then the plans to convert The Hayes into luxury flats have been completed and a leisure centre added to The Warwickshire Golf  & Country Club to the rear of the old house.

Further reading:

Information about Aldercar Hall, previous home of Francis Beresford Wright,
is available at: www.heanorhistory.org.uk