Thursday, 28 March 2013

(20) Acton of Lower Wolverton Hall

The Actons of Wolverton were a Recusant family who followed the Catholic faith consistently through the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries; many of their daughters took the veil in convents in Belgium and France.  Because of their faith, the men of the family were, until the 19th century, denied a University education and the public offices which their prominence in the county would otherwise have delivered.  

The family can be traced back to the medieval Actons of Ombersley in Worcestershire, but derived its association with Lower Wolverton from William Cooksey (d. c1581), who reunited the divided moieties of the manor of Wolverton in the parish of Stoulton (Worcs).  Following his death the property passed first to his widow and then, by 1585, to his nephew, John Acton (d. 1615), son of Humphrey Acton of Burton and Alice Cooksey.  It then passed from father to son down to the early 20th century.  

From John the estate passed to his grandson, Thomas Acton (d. by 1657), a Royalist who was obliged to compound for his estates in the 1650s.  It was his grandson, William Acton (1677-1725) who rebuilt the house, reputedly in 1709.  Subsequent generations all seem to have been resident until the death of William Robert Acton in 1908.  After that, the house was intermittently let, and during the Second World War it was requisitioned and used by the van Moppes brothers to process diamonds.

William Walter Acton (1862-1946) gave the house to his son, William Anthony Acton (b. 1904) in 1925.  He lived at the hall in the 1930s but later moved to London, where he had a house in Eaton Square.  He restored Lower Wolverton c.1963 before giving it in 1965 to his daughter Caroline, wife of Major Sir Trevor Dawson, 3rd bt. (d. 1983), and they subsequently lived in the house.  She sold it in 2004 to the present owner, Nicholas Coleridge CBE, the novelist and magazine publisher.


Lower Wolverton Hall, Worcestershire


Lower Wolverton Hall in 2012. © Peter Reynolds.


The estate belonged to the Acton family from 1585, but nothing is known of the Tudor or Elizabethan house that stood here.  The present three storey brick house is early 18th century (reputedly of 1709).  It is absolutely plain except for stone quoins and stone keystones linked to narrow stone platbands.  A tall parapet hides the shallow hipped roof.  

Lower Wolverton Hall in snow. © Nicholas Coleridge

The south front has seven bays and the east side six, with a moulded doorcase with a large segmental pediment.  The entrance is now on the west side, which has three bays, with a lower attached service wing and a later Georgian doorway, with Tuscan columns and an open pediment.  The interior was much restored c.1963, but retains a wide, plain early 18th century staircase and other fittings.  To the south-west is a five-bay brick outbuilding with a hipped roof, dated 1714; a date which gives some support to the traditional date of 1709 for the house.

Descent: William Cooksey (d. c1581); to widow, Alice Cooksey (d. by 1585); to nephew, John Acton (d. 1615); to grandson, Thomas Acton (d. by 1657); to son, William Acton (1640-79); to son, William Acton (1677-1725); to son, William Acton (d. 1763); to son, William Acton (d. 1814); to son, William Joseph Acton (1803-71); to son, William Robert Acton (1835-1908); to son, William Walter Acton (1862-1946); who gave it in 1925 to his son, William Anthony Acton (b. 1904); who gave it in 1965 to his daughter, Caroline Jane Acton (1933-2010), wife of Major Sir (Hugh Halliday) Trevor Dawson, 3rd bt. (1931-83);... sold to Ian Elliot, whose widow, Mrs Suzie Elliot sold 2004 to Nicholas Coleridge (b. 1957).  The house was leased after 1908 and tenants included Anthony H. Lechmere DL in 1913 and Lewis and Edwin van Moppes from 1941.


The Actons of Lower Wolverton


Acton, John (d. 1615) of Lower Wolverton Hall.  Eldest son of Humphrey Acton of Burton and his wife Alice, daughter and ultimately heiress of John Cooksey of Evesham and sister of William Cooksey of Lower Wolverton.  He married and had issue:
(1) William Acton (d. 1615) (q.v.)
He inherited Lower Wolverton Hall from his aunt, Alice Cooksey, in 1585.
He died in 1615.

Acton, William (d. 1615) of Lower Wolverton Hall.  Son of John Acton (d. 1615).  He married Annie (surname unknown) and had, with one other son:
(1) Susan Acton (c.1602-83), a nun, admitted to Franciscan convent in Brussels, 1629; died 7 February 1683, aged 81;
(2) Thomas Acton (d. c.1657) (q.v.);
(3) Judith Acton (c.1611-44), a nun, admitted to Franciscan convent in Brussels, 1631; died at Nieuport, 2 February 1644 aged 33.
He died in 1615, in the lifetime of his father. His will was proved 12 February 1616.

Acton, Thomas (d. c.1657) of Lower Wolverton Hall.  Elder son of William Acton (d. 1615).  Fought as a Royalist in the Civil War.  His estates were sequestered in 1650.  He married 1632 Elizabeth, daughter of John Weedon of Sarsden (Oxfordshire) and had issue:
(1) Elizabeth Acton (b. c.1636), a nun, admitted to Sepulchrine convent at Liege, 1655 but left 1658/9 because of problems with her dowry; she returned to England to secure it but never returned;
(2) Dorothy Acton (b. c.1637), a nun, admitted to Franciscan nunnery at Nieuport 1656 but left 1658/9 with her sister;
(3) William Acton (1640-79) (q.v.).
He inherited Lower Wolverton Hall from his grandfather in 1615.
He had died by 1657.

Acton, William (1640-79) of Lower Wolverton Hall.  Son of Thomas Acton (d. c.1657) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of John Weedon of Sarsden (Oxfordshire).  He married Barbara, daughter and co-heiress of John Vincent, a bencher of Grays Inn, and had issue including:
(1) William Acton (1677-1725) (q.v.).
He inherited Lower Wolverton Hall from his father c.1657.
He died 12 April 1679, aged 39.

Acton, William (1677-1725) of Lower Wolverton Hall.  Son of William Acton (1640-79) and his wife Barbara, daughter and co-heiress of John Vincent of Grays Inn, born 31 May 1677.  He married Margaret (d. 1721), daughter and co-heiress of Richard Perkins of Beenham (Berks) and had issue:
(1) William Acton (d. 1763) (q.v.);
(2) Perkins Richard Acton, m. Philadelphia Stapleton;
(3) Vincent Acton (d. 1764) of Harrington and St. Martin's, Worcester;
(4) Barbara Acton (d. 1785), a nun, entered Dunkirk Abbey 1732; died 14 October 1785;
(5) Anne Acton (d. 1736), a nun, entered Dunkirk Abbey 1734; died 7 August 1736.
He inherited Lower Wolverton Hall from his father in 1679 and rebuilt the house c.1709.
He died 16 July 1725, aged 48.

Acton, William (d. 1763) of Lower Wolverton Hall.  Son of William Acton (1677-1725) and his wife Margaret, daughter of Richard Perkins of Beenham (Berks).  He married Anne, daughter of William Tyler, and had issue:
(1) William Acton (d. 1814) (q.v.).
He inherited Lower Wolverton Hall from his father in 1725.
He died 3 December 1763.

Acton, William (d. 1814) of Lower Wolverton Hall.  Son of William Acton (d. 1763) and his wife Anne, daughter of William Tyler.  He married 1801 Ann Constantia Davies, a descendant of the Fowlers of St Thomas (Staffs) and had issue:
(1) William Joseph Acton (1803-71) (q.v.);
(2) Mary Acton, died unmarried.
He inherited Lower Wolverton Hall from his father in 1763.
He died 22 February 1814, and was buried at Stoulton (Worcs), where he is commemorated by a monument designed by Michael Crake of London and a hatchment.

Acton, William Joseph (1803-71) of Lower Wolverton Hall.  Only son of William Acton (d. 1814) and his wife Ann Constantia (nĂ© Davies), born 27 June 1803.  JP for Worcestershire.  He married 22 October 1833 Mary Monica (d. 1876), widow of William Trafford of Pleremore (Worcs), and had issue:
(1) William Robert Acton (b. & d. 1834);
(2) William Robert Acton (1835-1908) (q.v.);
(3) Thomas Vincent Acton JP (1836-1916), m. 1876 Margaret (d. 1915), daughter of Sir Arnold Knight MD of Six Hills (Lincs); lived at Berkeley House, Overbury (Worcs);
(4) Rev. Edward Charles Acton (1839-99), RC priest in Stafford; died unmarried and without issue; commemorated by a brass in the 'memorial tree' at Oscott College.
He inherited Lower Wolverton Hall from his father in 1814.
He died 30 May 1871.

Acton, William Robert (1835-1908) of Lower Wolverton Hall.  Eldest son of William Joseph Acton (1803-71) and his wife Monica, born 16 November 1835.  JP for Worcestershire.  He married 1861 Sarah Margaret (d. 1897), daughter of Robert Dand of Gloster Hill, Northumberland and had issue:
(1) William Walter Acton (1862-1946) (q.v.);
(2) Robert Matthew Acton (b. 1864), died unmarried?;
(3) Henry Edward Acton (b. & d. 1867);
(4) Vincent Henry Acton (1868-70);
(5) Edward Vincent Joseph Acton (1871-1912), m. Gertrude, daughter of Thomas M. Field of Boston (USA) and had issue one son;
(6) Charles Joseph Acton (b. 1872)
(7) Roger David Acton (1874-1959), colonial administrator, m. Beatrice Ena, daughter of Baron Zilz and widow of C.W. Mead, but died without issue; died 17 February 1959;
(8) Mary Margaret Acton (b. 1876), died unmarried;
(9) Winifred Mary Acton (1878-1959), m. 1913 Philip Vincent Baines;
(10) Richard Joseph Acton (b. 1880); lived in Malaya.
He inherited Lower Wolverton Hall from his father in 1871.
He died 14 March 1908.

Acton, William Walter (1862-1946), of Lower Wolverton Hall.  Eldest son of William Robert Acton (1835-1908) and his wife Margaret, daughter of Robert Dand; born 10 November 1862.  Educated at Oscott and Cooper's Hill College.  Colonial administrator with Federated Malay States, 1886-1913.  He married 1903 Edith Mary Dolores, daughter of William Francis Bourne Paul of Kensington (Middx) and had issue:
(1) William Anthony Acton (1904-93) (q.v.).
He inherited Lower Wolverton Hall from his father in 1908 but never occupied it and gave it to his son as a 21st birthday present in 1925. 
He died 3 February 1946 at Uxbridge (Middx) and was buried at Stoulton (Worcs).

Acton, William Anthony (1904-93), of Lower Wolverton Hall.  Only child of William Walter Acton (1962-1946) and his with Edith Mary Dolores, daughter of William Francis Bourne Paul; born 8 April 1904.  Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge.  High Sheriff of the County of London, 1955.  He married 1932 Joan Cinnetta, only child of Hon. Francis Geoffrey Pearson and had issue:
(1) Caroline Jane Acton (1933-2010), m. 1955 Maj. Sir (Hugh Halliday) Trevor Dawson, 3rd bt. (d. 1983), only son of Cdr. Sir Hugh Trevor Dawson CBE RN, 2nd bt. and had issue two sons.
He was given Lower Wolverton Hall as a 21st birthday present in 1925 and was living there in the 1930s.  He gave it to his daughter in 1965, shortly after restoring the interior in c.1963. He lived subsequently in Eaton Square, London, at Midhurst (Sussex) and in Corfu.
He died 3 March 1993 in Kensington (Middx) and was buried at Stoulton (Worcs).



Sources


VCH Worcs vol 3, 1913, pp. 532-37; Burke's Landed Gentry, successive editions; P. Reid, Burke’s & Savill’s Guide to Country Houses: vol. 2, West Midlands, 1980, p. 233; B. Lowry & M. Wilks, The Mercian Maquis, 2002; A. Brooks & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Worcestershire, 2nd edn., 2007, pp. 521, 610 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/9661297/My-perfect-weekend-Nicholas-Coleridge-novelist-and-president-of-Conde-Nast-International-magazine-group.html


Where are their papers?


No significant archive is known to survive.

7 comments:

  1. This is a very interesting article, thank you. I can only spot one small error – we bought the house not from the Actons but from Mrs Suzie Elliot, in 2004. Her husband, Ian Elliot, had owned and lived in the house for 25 years, and it was subsequently lived in by his widow, I believe that one other person owned Wolverton hall between the Actons and the Elliots, and sold many of the fireplaces.

    Nicholas Coleridge

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello Nicholas Coleridge,

    Are there any picture of Roger David Acton(1874-1959) in the house?.

    Best regards,
    Winson Saw

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ok,thanks.I do have a group picture of Roger David Acton in Singapore.Are you interested to see it?.

      Best regards,
      Winson Saw

      Delete
  3. I am afraid there is no archive at all, just a battered tin trunk containing some old plans and deeds. No photographs alas.

    Best wishes

    Nicholas Coleridge

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Worcestershire Record Office - now in its glamorous new home at The Hive in Worcester - would no doubt be interested to receive the deeds and plans as a loan or gift if they could be spared. Contact details are here if you are interested in following this up: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/archon/searches/locresult_details.asp?LR=45.

      Delete
  4. The story of the Van Moppes was apparently a cover story for the house being used as the HQ of the English Resistance force during the war as documented in the book the Mercian Maquis.

    Also my wifes grandfather was the landlord of the Crown Inn, Peopleton during the war and he bought two prints of pictures to hang in the pub from a auction that I am told was held at Wolverton. The auction was selling some of the belongings of John Mason and his wife Diana Bruen Coventry who had, I am told, been living at Wolverton.



    ReplyDelete
  5. It could make sense of the fireplaces being sold if there was a auction at the house.

    ReplyDelete

Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.