By Viv Wilson in Life at The Hall, Growing Up In a Stately Home | 3 days ago
HOAR CROSS HALL - A BIT OF HISTORY: Hoar Cross was part of Needwood Forest, the 11th century lands of Henry de Ferrers. The land was passed down to Henry’s son and subsequent various people over the course of 500 years ending with the Webb family, around the 1730s, who bought the land and house known as the Manor of the Cross. This was quite a large house built on a hill near Yoxall (which is the village next to Hoar Cross). In 1740 the manor house was demolished and later the Hon. Charles Talbot bought the estate for £17,000. Eventually it was sold to Hugo Meynell, who already owned huge amounts of property all over the county.
This branch of the Meynell family originated from Leicestershire, namely Quorndon. In the 18th century Hugo Meynell had the title of ‘the father of fox-hunting’ as he had founded the Quorn Hunt in 1750 which became famous around the district. He bred his own strain of foxhounds and was the first person to study fox-hunting from a scientific point of view. He bought Quorn Hall in 1754 and built stables and kennels there, having 30 horses stabled at its height. In 1758 he became High Sheriff of Staffordshire and Member of Parliament for Lichfield. When his son, Hugo, died in 1800 he sold Quorn Hall to the Earl of Sefton and left to live in Derbyshire; although the family owned large amounts of property all over the Midlands in at least five shires.
The Meynell family claim to be descendants of the Norman baron, Hugo de Grand Mesnil, who came over with William the Conqueror. He is said to have died in Leicester in 1093 and his descendants settled in Derbyshire and Yorkshire. The sons of Hugo went off to the First Crusade and a representation of Hugo’s shield can be seen in one of the windows of Hoar Cross Church. Sir Hugo de Mesnil of Langley Mesnil represented his county under Edward III in five parliaments and thus started a long line of descent for the Mesnil family eventually changing the name t...
By Viv Wilson in Life at The Hall, Growing Up In a Stately Home | 10th November 2019
MORE TEA VICAR? Life at Hoar Cross Hall was always busy but during the long summer holidays it was easy to get bored. As there was no public transport from Hoar Cross and no other families living nearby, we three children had to make our own entertainment and we were always having adventures and getting up to mischief – a bit like the Famous Five but without a dog! We would roam around the village or explore the basement. My dad was a hoarder and had kept all sorts of stuff over the years including his own gas mask and some field phones from World War 2. He had served in the army as a dispatch rider during the war in North Africa, mixing with Americans and Arabs alike and always had lots of interesting stories to tell.
The old Servants Hall was now my dad’s workshop and he spent a lot of time down there restoring antiques to re-sell. He had one of the field phones in his workshop and the other one was in our kitchen at the opposite end of the house. To operate them you would wind a handle on the side and a bell would ring on the phone at the other end. This was how my parents communicated especially when my mum wanted to tell my dad the dinner was ready! But we also had fun playing with them too and would often ring each other up or call my mum from the basement.
In the grounds was The Church of the Holy Angels. Mrs Meynell Ingram commissioned Bodley to commence work on the church in 1872 in memory of her husband who had died the previous year. It was generally regarded as one of the finest Victorian churches in the country and was known locally as the “Cathedral of the Midlands”. It was indeed a huge church (for a village) and always open to the public so we would sometimes go and have a look inside. On one occasion there was no-one around so Gavin and I lit all the candles in the church as we thought it looked really pretty and brightened the place up a bit. Oh dear – that was definitely not the right thing to do! ...
By Viv Wilson in Life at The Hall, Growing Up In a Stately Home | 03rd November 2019
MEDIAEVAL MAYHEM! It was the end of the summer season at Hoar Cross Hall in 1973 and rehearsals had started for the new venture of Mediaeval Banquets. All the cast would come around to the house each week for rehearsals and my mum and one or two other ladies were busy making the skirts and blouses for the wenches. My mum also made about 200 bibs which the guests were going to be wearing as eating five courses with a dagger can be quite messy! We had a King, a Jester, a Fire-eater, a Halberdier, an organist and various wenches and serving ladies. To launch the banquets my parents decided to hold a Press Reception about a month before and so we all gathered at the Hall one day in early September. There were lots of nibbles and quite a lot of champagne flowing and the newspapers and radio stations turned up to take lots of photos of us all in various poses and record interviews with the cast. It was a lovely, warm Autumn day and many of the photos were taken outdoors. I remember it turning out to be quite a party, even though it started at 9.30 in the morning; as the day wore on the organist started playing a few of the songs we would be doing at the banquets, and everyone started dancing and singing along – it was 4pm by the time we finished!
And so arrived the day of the first banquet. All the furniture and costumes from the Chinese Room and Ballroom had been removed and put into storage elsewhere in the house. A local carpenter had made long tables and benches to seat about 200 guests in the Ballroom, which was now known as the Banqueting Hall. We had employed caterers to do the food and the Chinese Room was used as a food preparation area next to the kitchen/café. A bar had been built in the middle of the Long Gallery. I had to sew numbers onto the coat hangers for the cloakroom – it took all day to do 100 hangers! The afternoon was spent laying the tables with mugs, daggers and serviettes. Before 7pm we went to ge...