Friday, 13 September 2013

(70) Albright of Bromsberrow Place

Arthur Albright (1811-1900) was one of nine children of a Quaker family that settled in Charlbury (Oxon) in 1767.  After being sent to school in Rochester, he was apprenticed at the age of sixteen to his uncle, a Bristol chemist and druggist, for five years. In 1842 he moved to Birmingham to join his brother-in-law, Edmund Sturge, in a chemical manufacturing business.  Albright established a new factory at Oldbury for the manufacture of phosphorous for matches and fertilisers, and when the partnership was ended in 1854, Albright continued this part of the business, forming a new partnership in 1856 with John Edward Wilson (who married his wife's sister the following year).  Both Albright and Wilson travelled extensively across Europe and Turkey, and later to India, Australia, New Zealand, America and the Carribbean to establish new sales outlets and to buy bones for crushing to make phosphorous (including buying the contents of a number of monastic ossuaries across Europe!), and their letters from this period give a fascinating insight into their work and the hazards of travel in remote areas in the mid 19th century.  Albright & Wilson grew to become a large-scale and highly profitable international operation, and established Albright as a leading West Midlands industrialist.  In 1848, he married Rachel Stacey of Tottenham (Middx) and they lived first at a house in George Road, Edgbaston and after 1871 at "Mariemont", Westborne Road, Edgbaston. In 1877 the family acquired Finstall Farm in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire which was later occupied by their only unmarried daughter, Maria Catherine Albright, an active Quaker missionary.

In 1879 George Stacey Albright (1855-1945), Arthur's second son, joined the family firm and he remained engaged with it for many decades.  After the death of his wife in 1927 he purchased as a retirement home Bromsberrow Place in Gloucestershire which he had been renting for many years as a base for hunting with the Ledbury Hunt.  His only son having been killed in the First World War, at his death he bequeathed the estate to the children of his younger brother, Alfred Beaumont Albright of Grimley House, Bromsgrove (Worcs), the eldest of whom, Dinah Albright (1896-1990), bought out her siblings and lived in the house until her death.  Bromsberrow Place was sold after her death and has since been immaculately restored.

Bromsberrow Place: detail of the shellwork in the recently-completed grotto.  © Nicholas Kingsley: all rights reserved.

Bromsberrow Place

The Yate family were landowners in Bromsberrow from 1663, when Rice Yate of Gloucester bought the Hook House estate.  They built up their holding and in 1708 Walter Yate acquired the manor, previously attached to Bromsberrow Court.  Hook House was then a modest semi-timbered, farmhouse, which it seems likely that Yate rebuilt as a three storey, astylar, H-plan house facing east, with a three bay centre and slightly projecting two bay wings. 

Bromsberrow Place: rear elevation of c.1710-15.  Image: © Nicholas Kingsley.  All rights reserved.

This building, which survives as the rear elevation of the present Bromsberrow Place, still did not meet Walter Yate’s ambitions, however, and in 1725 he was intending to replace it by a new mansion on Conigree Hill, east of the church.

It would appear, however, that no new house was begun in Walter Yate’s time, and when he died in 1744 he bequeathed the estate to a distant cousin, John Yate, son of Richard Yate of Arlingham, with a bequest of £1,500 to be spent on realising his dream of a new mansion house. John, however, died in 1749 without doing anything, and under Walter’s will the estate reverted to another John Yate, the son of Charles Yate of Arlingham.  To carry out Walter’s wishes, he began a modest new house on Conigree Hill east of the church in c.1756-58 to the designs of Ferdinando Stratford, but it was incomplete at his death in 1758.  His successor, Robert Dobyns of Evesbatch Court (Herefordshire), who was Walter Yate’s great-nephew, continued the project, but the sum prescribed by Walter Yate for constructing the building was wholly inadequate, and by 1762 the legacy had been expended and the carcase of the house had only reached the first floor. Stratford provided an estimate for completing the building and extending it with new wings, which it was estimated would cost a further £5,036.  Two designs, believed to be in Stratford’s hand, may relate to this estimate, although their scale seems rather greater than that suggested by the dimensions mentioned in the estimate.  
Design by Ferdinando Stratford, perhaps related to his estimate for completing the house on Conigree Hill c.1762
RIBA Drawings Collection SB90. 

The composition of the wings may owe something to Isaac Ware’s Wrotham Park in Middlesex, but the scheme for the decoration of one wall of a Music Room mixed Baroque and Rococo elements in a decidedly robust spirit.  The interior decoration design is annotated in a 19th century hand ‘Now the dining-parlour’, which may imply that it relates to another house entirely.

Robert Adam's unexecuted plans for a house at Bromsberrow, 1761.
Sir John Soane Museum, Adam 44/75-76.   © Soane Museum.  All rights reserved.

In parallel with Stratford’s scheme, Robert Dobyns Yate obtained designs for a house from Robert Adam in 1761.  Adam proposed a five bay centre block with three-bay flanking wings of similar dimensions to Stratford’s proposals, and designed a stable courtyard.  This building may also have been intended for the Conigree Hill site and thus been constrained by the plan of the unfinished house, although there is nothing on the plans to suggest this.

All schemes for completing the half-built house were apparently rejected by Robert Dobyns Yate, but perhaps before his death in 1766, work began on demolishing the half-finished house, constructing a new grand west range at Hook House, which subsequently became known as Bromsberrow Place, and remodelling the interior of the existing house.  Work continued during the minority of the next owner, Robert Gorges Dobyns Yate, as there is a rainwater head dated 1772 (and there was reputedly formerly another dated 1768).  Since Ferdinando Stratford died in 1766, it is perhaps unlikely he was the architect of the house as erected, although the canted central bay of the main elevation was reminiscent of his earlier design for the wings of the house on Conigree Hill.  

Engraving showing Bromsberrow Place as remodelled in 1768-72

The new west-facing elevation was of nine bays and two storeys with a full-height canted bay at the centre, and was at this stage probably a garden front, commanding the prospect across the park.   To the north an H-plan stable block of c.1770 incorporated a service range, which was attached to the house by a connecting link.  The elegant lines and details of this building suggest that the Gloucestershire architect Anthony Keck may have been involved in the house as executed, although there is no documentary evidence to confirm this.

Bromsberrow Place: stable block.   © Nicholas Kingsley.  All rights reserved.

Inside, the construction of the new range gave the house the complex plan of two parallel ranges linked by a toplit open-well main staircase in the centre of the house which gave access to the first floor rooms on the west side.  This now has a curved shape, but has evidently been remodelled (perhaps in the 1820s) out of an early or mid 18th century staircase of different form with a ramped handrail.  Two smaller staircases remained at either end of the older part of the house to service the three storeys on that side of the building, and these were supplemented by yet another curving staircase in the later 19th century.  At the same time as the house was rebuilt, a park containing several plantations and a small lake was created to provide an appropriate setting for the house. 

Inside, the new range consisted of three rooms, which have been extensively remodelled in later alterations.  However, the music room doorcases, dado rail and skirting board appear to be part of the original decoration, and the ceiling here is said formerly to have had the form of a shallow barrel vault and to have included grisaille panels in the manner of Angelica Kauffmann, at least elements of which are said to survive above the current flat plaster ceiling of c.1880.   

In 1785 R.G.D. Yate died and the estate passed to his son, Walter Honeywood Yate, an eccentric who rapidly embarrassed the family finances.  (W.H. Yate’s uncertain temperament landed him in several legal disputes, including one about the misappropriation of timber intended for the rebuilding of the rectory for work on repairs to Bromsberrow Place in 1802).  In 1811 he sold the estate to Joseph Pitt subject to his life interest in the property, and in 1818 Pitt in turn sold it to the political economist, David Ricardo of Gatcombe Park (q.v.), who also bought out Yate’s life interest.  Ricardo greatly enlarged the estate as a home for his son, Osman Ricardo, who inherited it in 1823. 

Soon afterwards the west front was remodelled and made into the entrance front of the house, almost certainly by George Basevi, who was related to the Ricardos, and who both altered Gatcombe for David Ricardo and built Titness Park in Berkshire for Sampson Ricardo.   His refronting of Bromsberrow is in the severest and most uncompromising astylar manner, almost Art Deco in feel, and only the portico with its four weighty Greek Doric columns suggests the true date.  The centrepiece represents a reduced version of the central canted bay of the earlier facade.  

Bromsberrow Place: entrance front as remodelled by George Basevi, c.1825.  © Nicholas Kingsley.  All rights reserved.

Inside, Basevi had to redecorate the entrance hall for its new function, and it has simple Greek doorcases and a screen of columns on the entrance side.  The dining room was altered too, with two pairs of yellow scagliola pilasters defining the serving alcove and a new chimneypiece; and the chimneypiece in the music room is probably also of this date.  Basevi probably also built the splendid eight-bay camellia house at the rear of the house, later used by Dinah Albright for her collection of orchids and other exotic plants.

Bromsberrow Place: the conservatory probably designed by George Basevi.
 © Nicholas Kingsley.  All rights reserved.

Osman Ricardo was succeeded in 1881 by his nephew Frank, who made further changes to the house.  He created a billiard room beyond the dining room, linking the house to the stable block, and also altered the decoration of the main rooms.  He replaced or enriched the cornices of the music and dining rooms and installed a convincing Wyatt-style ceiling in the dining room, which collapsed between 1961 and 1985.  His architect may have been F.W. Waller, who could work in an impeccable late 18th century style when he chose, as at Hasfield Court.

When Frank Ricardo died unexpectedly at his Hampshire seat of Bure Homage in 1897, the heir to both estates was his ten-year-old son, also Frank Ricardo (1887-1964). He and his mother and sisters chose to live at the Hampshire estate and leased Bromsberrow Place to George Stacey Albright (1855-1945), who bought the freehold in 1929.  When Albright died in 1945, his neice, Dinah Albright, bought out the other legatees and lived at Bromsberrow until her death in 1990, aged 94.  By that time, the house was in fairly poor repair and some features including the cupola over the staircase and the ornamented ceilings of the main rooms had been lost.  Following her death, the estate was again broken up, but the purchaser of Bromsberrow Place, Dr. The Hon. Gilbert Greenall, has bought back all but one farm to create an estate of 1200 acres, and has extended the park, planting 80,000 new trees (mainly oak) to a plan devised by Hal Moggridge.  Dr. Greenall has also restored the house with the assistance of Richard Falconer, replacing the cupola over the staircase, and removing the external shutters on the first floor windows.  A formal garden has been created before the entrance front, the walled garden has been restored, and work is now in progress on achieving greater definition and enclosure in the gardens south of the house, where a new shell house folly, designed by Dr. Greenall’s twelve-year-old son, has recently been built.  In the 1990s, the park was extended to the west, with new shelter belts being planted around the fringes.

A watercolour purporting to be of Bromsberrow Place appears to depict the rear of the house remodelled and reduced to two storeys, with canted bays and battlements, and may represent an unexecuted scheme, by Basevi or another.  Alternatively the identification on the mount as a view of Bromsberrow may be misleading.  The watercolour was in the possession of Mr. A.J. Stirling in 1992. Can any reader provide an alternative identification or identify the present location of the drawing?

Descent: sold 1663 to Rice Yate (d. 1690); to son, Walter Yate (d. 1744); to kinsman, John Yate (d. 1749); to kinsman, John Yate (d. 1758); to kinsman, Robert Dobyns (later Yate) (d. 1766); to son, Robert Gorges Dobyns Yate (d. 1785); to son, Walter Honeywood Yate, who sold 1818 to David Ricardo (d. 1823); to son, Osman Ricardo (d. 1881); to nephew, Frank Ricardo (d. 1897); to son, Frank Ricardo, who sold 1929 to George Stacey Albright (d. 1945); to niece, Dinah Albright (d. 1990); sold after her death to The Hon. Dr. Gilbert Greenall CBE (b. 1954).

Albright family of Bromsberrow Place

Arthur Albright (1811-1900)
Albright, Arthur (1811-1900).  Elder son of William Albright (1776-1852) of Charlbury (Oxon), grocer, draper and glovemaker, and his wife Rachel (1776-1867), daughter of William Tanner, born 12 March 1811.  Educated at the Friends' School, Rochester (Kent) and then apprenticed to a Bristol chemist and druggist, 1827-32; entered a partnership with his brother-in-law, Edmund Sturge, in Birmingham as manufacturing chemists, 1842; developed new businesses for the manufacture of phosphorous and opened a new works for the purpose at Oldbury, 1850; dissolved the partnership with Sturge, 1854 and formed a new one with John Edward Wilson, 1856, as Albright & Wilson. He was an active anti-slavery campaigner and a member of the Peace Society.  He married, 14 September 1848, Rachel (1820-99), daughter of George Stacey of Tottenham (Middx) and had issue:
(1) Rachel Anna Albright (1849-1928); born 24 July 1849; married, 30 January 1890, Wilson (1846-1930), son of Josiah King, and had issue one daughter; died in London, 30 November 1928;
(2) Mary Deborah Albright (1850-1936); born 26 December 1850; married, 30 December 1890, Col. Sir Colin Campbell Scott-Moncrieff (1836-1916), kt., son of Robert Scott-Moncrieff, but had no issue; died in London, 8 October 1936;
(3) Wilhelmine Albright (1852-72); born 2 July 1852; died unmarried, 30 July 1872, aged 20;
(4) William Arthur Albright (1853-1942); born 13 October 1853; married 11 September 1897, Priscilla (1850-1946), daughter of Joseph Sturge of Edgbaston, but had no issue; died 13 July 1942;
(5) George Stacey Albright (1855-1945) (q.v.);
(6) John Francis Albright (1857-1914); born 15 April 1857; educated at Grove House School, Tottenham (Middx); married in Sydney (Australia), 22 January 1896, Ellen Charlotte Caroline (1865-1944), daughter of George William Johnson and had issue two sons and two daughters; died in Woking (Surrey), 30 December 1914;
(7) Maria Catharine Albright (1859-1945); born 25 February 1859; Quaker missionary in Madagascar; died unmarried, 27 May 1945;
(8) Alfred Beaumont Albright (1861-1932) (q.v.). 
He lived in George Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham and later at 'Mariemont', Westborne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, and from 1877 at Finstall Farm, Bromsgrove (Worcs).
He died at 11 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, London, on 3 July 1900, aged 89; his will was proved 7 August 1900 (estate £112,305).  His wife died 15 March 1899, aged 78; her will was proved 2 May 1899 (estate £1,280).

Albright, George Stacey (1855-1945) CBE, of Bromberrow Place. Second son of Arthur Albright (1811-1900) and his wife Rachel, daughter of George Stacey of Tottenham (Middx), born 15 June 1855.  Educated at Grove House School, Tottenham, and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1875; BA 1879; MA 1883; Rugby 'blue', 1877); Director of Albright & Wilson Ltd; during WW1 was on the Airships Committee of the Board of Invention & Research; CBE 1920.  JP and County Alderman for Worcestershire; Chairman of Higher Education Committee of Worcestershire County Council.  He married, 29 November 1883, Isabella Margaret (1861-1927), daughter of Smith Harrison of Wanstead (Essex) and had issue:
(1) Ursula Margaret Albright (1884-96); born 29 November 1884; died 22 January 1896, aged 11;
(2) Maj. Martin Chicheley Albright (1886-1917); born 29 August 1886; served in WW1 with Queens Own Worcestershire Hussars; married, 3 January 1916, Barbara Mary (1895-1939), daughter of Algernon Hugh Peter Strickland of Apperley Court (Glos) but had no issue; died at Huj (Palestine) of wounds received in action, 8 November 1917.
He rented and in 1929 bought Bromsberrow Place from Frank Ricardo.  At his death without surviving issue it passed to his niece, Dinah Albright.
He died 28 December 1945, aged 90.  His wife died 30 September 1927.

Albright, Alfred Beaumont (1861-1932), of Grimley House, Bromsgrove (Worcs).  Youngest son of Arthur Albright (1811-1900) and his wife Rachel, daughter of George Stacey of Tottenham (Middx), born 21 August 1861.  Educated at Grove House School, Tottenham (Middx).  He married, 30 April 1895, Mabel Agnes (b. 1875), daughter of Frederick Everitt and had issue:
(1) (Geraldine) Dinah Albright (1896-1990) (q.v.);
(2) Rachel Patience Albright (b. 1898); born 1 October 1898; died unmarried, April 1988, aged 89;
(3) Jocelyn Beaumont Albright (b. 1900); born 9 December 1900; died unmarried, 12 March 1982.
He lived at Grimley House, Bromsgrove; at his death this passed to his son, Jocelyn and was sold after the latter's death in 1982.
He died 15 February 1932.

Albright, (Geraldine) Dinah (1896-1990), of Bromsberrow Place.  Elder daughter of Alfred Beaumont Albright (1861-1932) of Grimley House, Bromsgrove (Worcs) and his wife Mabel Agnes, daughter of Frederick Everitt, born 10 March 1896.  She was an expert plantswoman, specialising in orchids and other exotics.  She was unmarried.
Inherited a share in the Bromsberrow Place estate from her uncle, George Stacey Albright, in 1945, and bought out her co-heirs.  After her death the estate was sold.
She died in June 1990.  At her death she left significant bequests to the Diocese of Gloucester and the National Trust, and endowed the Albright Trust.


VCH Glos, xii, 2012, pp. 103-5; N.W. Kingsley, The country houses of Gloucestershire, vol. 2, 1660-1830, 1992, pp. 88-91; M. Forsyth, The history of Bromesberrow Place, 2015;

Location of archives

Albright & Wilson Ltd: corporate, accounting, sales, technical, production, staff and subsidiaries' papers, corresp and letterbooks, 1841-1951 (Birmingham City Archives & Heritage Service MS 1724 (uncatalogued))
Albright family of Edgbaston: family correspondence and papers, 1671-1982 (Birmingham City Archives & Heritage Service MS 1509)

Coat of arms


This account was last revised 12th April 2015.


  1. Have stumbled upon your blog after googling images of Bromesberrow Place out of curiosity. My Dad worked for Dinah Albright from 1984 until her death. We lived in the staff quarters, then in a cottage on the Estate. Fascinating!

    1. I am now 73, And I remember well my mother going to pay the rent for Aubrey's farm where we then lived . I was not impressed with my mothers reception by Miss Albright toward an honest worker. My dear father worked himself to death on one of her farms which was Aubrey's farm. I feel even these many years later how down trodden the working class were. My name is Geoff Sayce, And I can back up every statement I make.
      Miss Albright is now remembered in a stained glass window - Why I will never know.

  2. My school, Wanstead High School, a co-ed grammar, was evacuated to Newent summer 1940. Eight of us and a teacher were billeted at Bromsberrow Place for a couple of months and no-one could have been kinder than Miss Albright. We four girls slept in the late son's bedroom which was decorated with rowing trophies, caps and scarves, and deer heads.(please don't hang your
    hats on the antlers)

  3. I went there on a "Harvest Camp", under canvas, to "pick apples" with my School group from Ryhope Grammar School, Co. Durham, in about 1948. In fact, we picked potatoes, but had time off so I was able to explore the area on my bicycle. Explored Tewkesbury Abbey and came across Eastnor Castle as a surprise view over a hedge ! Walking across the Malvern hills was
    arranged, and also we worked on Bredon Hill, where our Physics master Dennis weatherly sang
    "Summer time on Bredon" to us. He later joined the BBC Singers.

  4. I spent so much time here from 1993-2001 As my best friend at the times family worked for the greenhalls as caretakers and lived in the apartment that was in Bromesberrow place. Many memories of exploring the buildings, the billiards room was amazing and great fun-Full size snooker table . Secret passages/staircases behind walls. Trout fishing up the lakes catching monsters, quad biking with the greenhalls. Tennis at the court could go on for 5 hours. Swimming in the outdoor pool in the summer. Many summers spent here and great child hood memories camping etc. I always remember the smell of good food as you walked in through the back door into the hallway, kitchen on the left. As you walked into the kitchen, billiards room on the right. You would go up a flight of stairs on the right from a hallway to get too the appartment.

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