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Toddington manor

PUBLISHED: 16:17 18 January 2010 | UPDATED: 09:52 20 February 2013

Decaying spleandor - The estimated cost of restoration of Toddington Manor is estimated between £10-£20 million.

Decaying spleandor - The estimated cost of restoration of Toddington Manor is estimated between £10-£20 million.

The golden, Gothic elevations of Toddington Manor are one of the most dramatic views in the Cotswolds, while its fascinating and tempturous story starts with the Sudley family and has a happy ending with artist Damien Hirst.

Below the Cotswold escarpment near Winchcombe a collection of historic houses of magnificent architectural design lie dormant, preserved or ruined. Preserved is the Jacobean beauty of Stanway house, the ruined Abbots Lodging at Hailes Abbey and the remains of the gatehouse of Toddington House. The most striking of them though, is the presently dormant, macabre but golden elevations of Toddington Manor. All well worth a visit, although you may have to peer over a church wall to wonder at the latter two. All at one time or another, over the last one thousand years, have been connected through members of the Sudeley family, also known as the Tracys. The Toddington estate, founded before the Norman Conquest, is believed to have the longest line of inheritance ownership in England and apart from the last century, was with the Sudeleys for the best part of a millennium.



The Domesday Book records that Toddington and other lands across southern England belonged to Godgifu (Saxon) or Godiva (Latin), she was the daughter of Ethelred II (the Redeless) by his second wife Emma. In 1050 Ralph, her second son, inherited part of his mothers lands, which included Toddington and Sudeley. After the death of Ralph in 1057 his Earldom ceased to exist and was absorbed into Harold's Kingdom of Wessex, but Toddington continued to be passed down the Sudeley line to Harold de Sudeley. His son John de Sudeley married Grace, daughter of William de Tracy, a Royal bastard from Henry I. The lineage continues with High Sheriffs of Gloucestershire, Oliver in 1319, Thomas in 1359, Sir John in 1366 and another Sir John Tracy in 1578. While increasing in importance and becoming one of the leading families in the county, there must have been earlier timber framed buildings on the Toddington Estate. Sir John Tracy, built the first of the two known mansions at Toddington in 1620 with similarities to nearby Stanway house, which was owned by another branch of the Tracy family.



In the spring of 1820 Charles Hanbury-Tracy (1778 - 1858) laid the first stone for a very ambitious project, the building of the new Toddington Manor. This endeavour would prove so costly that it began a decline in luck and fortune, which eventually led to the family losing its ancestral seat. Charles Hanbury came from a family that owned the Pontypool Iron Works, in Monmouthshire. In 1798 he married his cousin, Henrietta Tracy and added her name to his and moved to the crumbling Jacobean mansion that was Toddington House. Situated close to the River Isbourne, the damp old house was renovated after a fire in 1800, but then suffered from dry rot. A sequence of events repeated at the new Manor nearly 200 years later. The old building was abandoned, now only the derelict gatehouse remains near St. Andrews church. The family moved to Hailes Abbey while the old house was taken apart and the new construction took place. A site was selected on higher ground for the gentlemen architects' designs for a grand neo Gothic house. The Gothic style was being revived in England at that time, but this house was to cost 150,000 (approximately 10 million today) to build and over fifteen years to complete.



Although not trained as an architect Charles produced the drawings with the help of one draftsman, he directed the construction and insisted on perfection of the many fine masonry details. The result, though expensive, was and still is, quite simply stunning. The light and warmth of the golden honey coloured Cotswold stone is contrasted, when looking closely at the eyrie gargoyles and statues, by a gritty history lesson in weathered Oolite. The plan of the house is of three squares connecting diagonally, forming the main house, the service wing and the stables. The house consists of large highly ornate staterooms accessed from cloisters complete with stained glass windows, with private chambers above. The kitchens and offices are contained within the service wing with the stable yard, stables and coach house enclosed by a unique vaulted ride. A statue of Henry VIII stands proud, set into the north face of the tower overlooking the entrance. The Tracy family connection with the murder in 1170, of Archbishop Thomas Becket with Sir William de Tracy, one of the assassins, is graphically displayed either side of the main entrance.



The similarities at Toddington with the Houses of Parliament are surely by design rather than coincidence. Charles entered Parliament as Whig Member for Tewkesbury and in 1836 was appointed Chairman of the Commission to judge the designs for the Houses of Parliament after a fire destroyed much of the Palace of Westminster in 1834. Architect Charles Barry won the competition with his 'gothic vision' and was assisted by Augustus Welby Pugin. Charles also studied at Christ Church College Oxford, where perhaps his love of Gothic architecture was first embedded within him.



Charles Hanbury-Tracy became the first Lord Sudeley in 1838, following his death his heirs continued with the landscaping and garden designs for the house. Later in the 19th century extensive orchards were established to support fruit production on an industrial scale. But not helped by the agricultural depression and the 4th Lord Sudeley's attempts to make money in the city, he was bankrupted in 1894. Thus eventually forcing the sale of Toddington Manor in 1901, which ended the one thousand year Sudeley association with the estate.



During the 20th century, at times in private ownership and in others with property investment companies or institutions, the building survived through good times and bad. During World War II it housed US Army troops, before and during the invasion of mainland Europe, with units such as the 3104th Signal Service Battalion and the 635th Tank Destroyer Battalion. During their stay large numbers of Nissen huts were erected in the grounds to the north of the house and after the war ended hundreds of military vehicles were parked up to await disposal.



Between 1948-1972 The Congregation of Christian Brothers used the property as a Noviciate and Administrative Headquarters. In 1965 a fire caused damage that, despite extensive repairs, began a slow decline in the state of the structure and eventually led to damp and extensive dry rot problems.



Former Christian Brother, Mike Leach recalls some of the events during this time: "I remember very well when about 100 young brothers had to be given emergency accommodation at St Josephs College in Cheshire because of the fire - We got to know many new friends before repairs were completed and the brothers returned. In 1968 I went to Toddington myself to do my sixth form studies (and later as a Novitiate), as a school it had very good laboratories for science, other classrooms, a study and an excellent library that was very well stocked. Accommodation was very good; dormitories, dining, kitchen facilities, games and TV rooms. There were football, rugby and cricket fields in the 120 acres of grounds. In many ways it was a perfect place for a novitiate but after a year I was ready for somewhere less isolated! At the end of this year there was another fire, probably started by the sanctuary lamp in the chapel - fortunately the damage caused was not as extensive as the earlier fire and it was able to be restored to its original condition."



"It was just too uneconomic to continue to run Toddington Manor for the small numbers that were using it now there were only 4 of us at this stage and its future was obviously in question - an establishment of this size just could not be justified by a religious order, huge sums of money were being spent on it. I remember it being put on the market and eventually a buyer was found, it was sold for 90,000. I helped to move out. Much of the furniture was taken to St. Josephs; I dismantled the organ from the chapel and helped to re-build it at St. Josephs. A lot of the furniture was burnt as it was infected with woodworm; the valuable and useful books went to other schools and the rest were burnt. I took photographs of the building and its grounds at this time and I think I have a final one as we drove out for the last time."



After being run as a school for international students during the 1980s until 1985 when the Avicenna Foundation passed ownership to an off-shore company - Toddington Investments Ltd. The building then remained unoccupied for twenty years, which for the fabric of the building was to prove very damaging. The English Heritage Grade I Listed Toddington Manor was put on the Buildings at Risk Register. The owners were slow in reacting to requests for remedial repair works to leaking roofs, issued by the local authority and English Heritage. Warner Hotels eventually called off a planned purchase and 20 million, 200-bedroom hotel complex redevelopment, in August 2004, after considerable local and expert opposition. With much relief, the contemporary artist Damien Hirst purchased the manor in August 2005 for 3 million. Damien Hirst is now working with English Heritage, to restore the house to its former glory, as a family home and museum to house his extensive collection of his own and other artists' work. The estimated cost of the restoration is 10 - 20 million. In June 2006 Hirst announced that the house was covered in scaffolding and had been treated for dry rot, and was to be left for 2 years, when the old roof will come off. The interior will need a lot of work, which could take 5 to 10 years, after which it will be opened to the public as a museum housing his art collection. Toddington Manor couldn't have been saved by anyone better, with the will and resources to carry out his largest preservation work so far - his life's work.



Image Notes: All images Adam Stanford 2004


Except: "TM-front-restoration06.jpg" - Aerial-Cam / Damien Hirst 2006 (if printed should be credited: By kind permission Damien Hirst)



Further Information:



English Heritage - Aerial Survey - Special Projects.


http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.9276



J. Britton, Graphic Description of Toddington, 1840


C. Hussey, English Country Houses -late Georgian, 1800-1840, 1958


D. Verey, Gloucestershire, The Vale and The Forest of Dean, 1970


Manorial Society, The Sudeleys Lords of Toddington, 1987


Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Transactions 1969. Vol. LXXXVIII


Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Transactions 1900. Vol. XXIII

Words and Photography by Adam Stanford


Below the Cotswold escarpment near Winchcombe a collection of historic houses of magnificent architectural design lie dormant, preserved or ruined. Preserved is the Jacobean beauty of Stanway house, the ruined Abbots Lodging at Hailes Abbey and the remains of the gatehouse of Toddington House. The most striking of them though, is the presently dormant, macabre but golden elevations of Toddington Manor. All well worth a visit, although you may have to peer over a church wall to wonder at the latter two. All at one time or another, over the last one thousand years, have been connected through members of the Sudeley family, also known as the Tracys. The Toddington estate, founded before the Norman Conquest, is believed to have the longest line of inheritance ownership in England and apart from the last century, was with the Sudeleys for the best part of a millennium.



The Domesday Book records that Toddington and other lands across southern England belonged to Godgifu (Saxon) or Godiva (Latin), she was the daughter of Ethelred II (the Redeless) by his second wife Emma. In 1050 Ralph, her second son, inherited part of his mothers lands, which included Toddington and Sudeley. After the death of Ralph in 1057 his Earldom ceased to exist and was absorbed into Harold's Kingdom of Wessex, but Toddington continued to be passed down the Sudeley line to Harold de Sudeley. His son John de Sudeley married Grace, daughter of William de Tracy, a Royal bastard from Henry I. The lineage continues with High Sheriffs of Gloucestershire, Oliver in 1319, Thomas in 1359, Sir John in 1366 and another Sir John Tracy in 1578. While increasing in importance and becoming one of the leading families in the county, there must have been earlier timber framed buildings on the Toddington Estate. Sir John Tracy, built the first of the two known mansions at Toddington in 1620 with similarities to nearby Stanway house, which was owned by another branch of the Tracy family.



In the spring of 1820 Charles Hanbury-Tracy (1778 - 1858) laid the first stone for a very ambitious project, the building of the new Toddington Manor. This endeavour would prove so costly that it began a decline in luck and fortune, which eventually led to the family losing its ancestral seat. Charles Hanbury came from a family that owned the Pontypool Iron Works, in Monmouthshire. In 1798 he married his cousin, Henrietta Tracy and added her name to his and moved to the crumbling Jacobean mansion that was Toddington House. Situated close to the River Isbourne, the damp old house was renovated after a fire in 1800, but then suffered from dry rot. A sequence of events repeated at the new Manor nearly 200 years later. The old building was abandoned, now only the derelict gatehouse remains near St. Andrews church. The family moved to Hailes Abbey while the old house was taken apart and the new construction took place. A site was selected on higher ground for the gentlemen architects' designs for a grand neo Gothic house. The Gothic style was being revived in England at that time, but this house was to cost 150,000 (approximately 10 million today) to build and over fifteen years to complete.



Although not trained as an architect Charles produced the drawings with the help of one draftsman, he directed the construction and insisted on perfection of the many fine masonry details. The result, though expensive, was and still is, quite simply stunning. The light and warmth of the golden honey coloured Cotswold stone is contrasted, when looking closely at the eyrie gargoyles and statues, by a gritty history lesson in weathered Oolite. The plan of the house is of three squares connecting diagonally, forming the main house, the service wing and the stables. The house consists of large highly ornate staterooms accessed from cloisters complete with stained glass windows, with private chambers above. The kitchens and offices are contained within the service wing with the stable yard, stables and coach house enclosed by a unique vaulted ride. A statue of Henry VIII stands proud, set into the north face of the tower overlooking the entrance. The Tracy family connection with the murder in 1170, of Archbishop Thomas Becket with Sir William de Tracy, one of the assassins, is graphically displayed either side of the main entrance.



The similarities at Toddington with the Houses of Parliament are surely by design rather than coincidence. Charles entered Parliament as Whig Member for Tewkesbury and in 1836 was appointed Chairman of the Commission to judge the designs for the Houses of Parliament after a fire destroyed much of the Palace of Westminster in 1834. Architect Charles Barry won the competition with his 'gothic vision' and was assisted by Augustus Welby Pugin. Charles also studied at Christ Church College Oxford, where perhaps his love of Gothic architecture was first embedded within him.



Charles Hanbury-Tracy became the first Lord Sudeley in 1838, following his death his heirs continued with the landscaping and garden designs for the house. Later in the 19th century extensive orchards were established to support fruit production on an industrial scale. But not helped by the agricultural depression and the 4th Lord Sudeley's attempts to make money in the city, he was bankrupted in 1894. Thus eventually forcing the sale of Toddington Manor in 1901, which ended the one thousand year Sudeley association with the estate.



During the 20th century, at times in private ownership and in others with property investment companies or institutions, the building survived through good times and bad. During World War II it housed US Army troops, before and during the invasion of mainland Europe, with units such as the 3104th Signal Service Battalion and the 635th Tank Destroyer Battalion. During their stay large numbers of Nissen huts were erected in the grounds to the north of the house and after the war ended hundreds of military vehicles were parked up to await disposal.



Between 1948-1972 The Congregation of Christian Brothers used the property as a Noviciate and Administrative Headquarters. In 1965 a fire caused damage that, despite extensive repairs, began a slow decline in the state of the structure and eventually led to damp and extensive dry rot problems.



Former Christian Brother, Mike Leach recalls some of the events during this time: "I remember very well when about 100 young brothers had to be given emergency accommodation at St Josephs College in Cheshire because of the fire - We got to know many new friends before repairs were completed and the brothers returned. In 1968 I went to Toddington myself to do my sixth form studies (and later as a Novitiate), as a school it had very good laboratories for science, other classrooms, a study and an excellent library that was very well stocked. Accommodation was very good; dormitories, dining, kitchen facilities, games and TV rooms. There were football, rugby and cricket fields in the 120 acres of grounds. In many ways it was a perfect place for a novitiate but after a year I was ready for somewhere less isolated! At the end of this year there was another fire, probably started by the sanctuary lamp in the chapel - fortunately the damage caused was not as extensive as the earlier fire and it was able to be restored to its original condition."



"It was just too uneconomic to continue to run Toddington Manor for the small numbers that were using it now there were only 4 of us at this stage and its future was obviously in question - an establishment of this size just could not be justified by a religious order, huge sums of money were being spent on it. I remember it being put on the market and eventually a buyer was found, it was sold for 90,000. I helped to move out. Much of the furniture was taken to St. Josephs; I dismantled the organ from the chapel and helped to re-build it at St. Josephs. A lot of the furniture was burnt as it was infected with woodworm; the valuable and useful books went to other schools and the rest were burnt. I took photographs of the building and its grounds at this time and I think I have a final one as we drove out for the last time."



After being run as a school for international students during the 1980s until 1985 when the Avicenna Foundation passed ownership to an off-shore company - Toddington Investments Ltd. The building then remained unoccupied for twenty years, which for the fabric of the building was to prove very damaging. The English Heritage Grade I Listed Toddington Manor was put on the Buildings at Risk Register. The owners were slow in reacting to requests for remedial repair works to leaking roofs, issued by the local authority and English Heritage. Warner Hotels eventually called off a planned purchase and 20 million, 200-bedroom hotel complex redevelopment, in August 2004, after considerable local and expert opposition. With much relief, the contemporary artist Damien Hirst purchased the manor in August 2005 for 3 million. Damien Hirst is now working with English Heritage, to restore the house to its former glory, as a family home and museum to house his extensive collection of his own and other artists' work. The estimated cost of the restoration is 10 - 20 million. In June 2006 Hirst announced that the house was covered in scaffolding and had been treated for dry rot, and was to be left for 2 years, when the old roof will come off. The interior will need a lot of work, which could take 5 to 10 years, after which it will be opened to the public as a museum housing his art collection. Toddington Manor couldn't have been saved by anyone better, with the will and resources to carry out his largest preservation work so far - his life's work.




Further Information:



English Heritage - Aerial Survey - Special Projects.


http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.9276



J. Britton, Graphic Description of Toddington, 1840


C. Hussey, English Country Houses -late Georgian, 1800-1840, 1958


D. Verey, Gloucestershire, The Vale and The Forest of Dean, 1970


Manorial Society, The Sudeleys Lords of Toddington, 1987


Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Transactions 1969. Vol. LXXXVIII


Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Transactions 1900. Vol. XXIII

Words and photography by Adam Stanford

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