Wednesday 29 June 2016

(220) Astley (later Astley-Corbett) of Patshull Hall, Everleigh Manor and Elsham Hall, baronets

Astley of Patshull, baronets
The Astley family took their name from Astley in Warwickshire, where they are said to have been settled by the early 12th century. Thomas de Estleye was killed at the Battle of Evesham in 1265 and their manor at Astley was forfeited to the Crown and granted to Warin de Bassingbourn. Warin had licence to crenellate in 1266 and the house seems to have been moated and fortified at this time, but it was soon afterwards restored to Andrew de Astley (d. 1301), who in 1295 was summoned to Parliament as 1st Baron Astley. Andrew was succeeded by his elder son, Nicholas de Astley (d. c.1314), 2nd Baron Astley, who died without issue, and then by the 2nd Baron's nephew, Thomas de Astley (d. c.1359), 3rd Baron Astley. The 3rd Baron had three sons: Sir William de Astley, 4th Baron Astley; Sir Thomas de Astley, who was MP for Warwickshire; and Giles de Astley, from whom descended the Astleys of Wolvey Hall (Warks).  The 4th Baron left no sons, and his daughter carried the Astley estate by her marriage to the Greys, Barons Grey de Ruthin, who forfeited it to the Crown in the mid 16th century. Sir Thomas de Astley married Elizabeth Harcourt and the descendants of their son, Sir Thomas Astley of Patshull, are the subject of this article.

Astley Castle in the mid 20th century, from an old postcard. The house was burned out in 1978 and subsequently fell into ruin. In the early 21st century, he Landmark Trust restored the shell and built a flat-roofed holiday home within it (which won the Stirling Prize - enough said).

The younger Sir Thomas's brother, Sir John de Astley, was one of the most famous tournament knights of his time. Dugdale, in his history of Warwickshire (1656) records how;
“Of the Patshull branch of the Astley family was John de Astley, who, on the 29th of August, 1438, maintaining a duel on horseback, within the street called Antoine, in Paris, against one Peter de Masse, a Frenchman, in the presence of Charles the Seventh, King of France, pierc’t the said Peter through the head, and had (as by the articles betwixt them conditioned) the helmit of the said Peter, being so vanquish’d, to present unto his lady. And on the 30th January, 20 of Henry the Sixth, undertook another fight in the Smythfield, within the city of London, in the prescence of the same King Henry the Sixth, with Sir Philip Boyle, an Arragonian Knight, who having been in France, by the King his master’s command to look out some hardy person against whom he might try his skill in feats of armes, and missing there of his desires, repaired hither. After which combate ended (being gallantly perform’d on foot, with battil-axes, speares, swords, and daggers), he was knighted by the King, with an annuity of one hundred marks during his life. Nay, so famous did he grow for his valour, that he was elected Knight of the Garter.”
"The combats of Sir John de Astley" engraved by Wenceslaus Hollar for Dugdale's Antiquities of Warwickshire, 1656
The younger Sir Thomas himself seems to have kept a lower profile. Through his mother, Elizabeth Harcourt, he inherited the manor of Patshull and settled his family there. He married Jane Greasley, daughter of Sir Thomas Greasley of Colton (Staffs), who had been nurse to King Henry VI. Their only son was another Thomas Astley, who was a benefactor of the church at Wolverhampton, helping to pay for a new steeple and battlements, and at his death in 1483 he was buried there. He left the Patshull estate to his son William, who died without issue, and from whom it came to his half-brother, Richard Astley (d. 1532), with whom the genealogy below begins. In the apparent absence of any significant body of early family papers, my account of the family in the 16th century is very thin, and only with the commencement of the Patshull parish registers at the end of the century does it begin to be possible to have more confidence in the accuracy of the account.

In the early 17th century, there are occasional hints at the religious disturbances of the time. The regular entries for the baptism of Thomas Astley (d. 1632)'s children in the Patshull registers comes to an end in the mid-1590s; while it is possible that the baptisms simply took place elsewhere, I have not been able to find them, and it seems possible that the family parted company with the Church of England at this time. When Margery, Thomas's wife, died in 1628 she had been excommunicated from the church, and it was necessary to obtain a special licence for her burial at Patshull. Her son, Walter Astley (c.1590-1656) appears to have been a Recusant, and his children are also largely absent from the parish registers. In the Civil War, Walter garrisoned Patshull for the king, and his eldest son Richard (c.1625-88) (who can barely have been an adult when the King's standard was raised at Newark in 1642) raised a troop of horse for the King and served as its captain throughout the first Civil War. Patshull Hall was captured by the Parliamentarians and sequestrated, although Richard was able to recover possession in the 1650s, apparently by showing that the estate had been settled in 1616 and that his father was thus a tenant for life rather than a freeholder.

With the Restoration, the service done to the Crown by Richard and his father was acknowledged by the conferral of a baronetcy in 1662. Sir Richard improved his estate at Patshull by laying out formal gardens around the moated old house, but he also acquired the manor of Odstone in Leicestershire in about 1665 (possibly by slightly unscrupulous means) and 'new cased in brick' the house there about twenty years later. His eldest son having died in Paris in 1681/2, Sir Richard was succeeded as 2nd baronet at his death in February 1688 by the infant son of his second marriage, who was barely a month old. This child, Sir John Astley (1688-1771), 2nd bt., was apparently brought up in Wiltshire, where his mother lived with her second husband. His childhood evidently inculcated a love for the Wiltshire landscape and the hunting it afforded, and in 1736 he bought a small property at Everleigh where he could indulge this passion. Sir John may then already have had in mind a project to rebuild his seat at Patshull on a new site on higher ground, which he seems to have begun in about 1738 to the designs of James Gibbs. Sir John, who was a thoroughgoing Jacobite (he was still plotting with the Young Pretender in Paris in 1752), took a break from work on the house around the time of the attempted revolution in 1745, but resumed work a few years later and by 1758 the very large new house was complete. 

The intended heir to all the magnificence of the new Patshull Hall was Sir John's only son, Richard Prince Astley (1725-56), who tragically died on his way home from France while building was still incomplete. With his death, the project perhaps seemed pointless, and Sir John sold Patshull - which had been in his family for more than 300 years - in 1765. In place of it, he bought the main manorial estate at Everleigh (Wilts), where he already had his little hunting box, and by the time of his death in 1771 he had rebuilt or remodelled the manor house as a handsome nine-bay block with detached seven-bay wings. For an heir to this property, Sir John looked not to one of his daughters, but to his first cousin, twice removed, Francis Dugdale Astley (1742-1818), a young man who seems to have shared his benefactor's passions for country sports and estate improvement, and who landscaped the estate and rebuilt the parish church in the years around 1810.

Francis Dugdale Astley's eldest son and heir, John Dugdale Astley (1778-1842) became MP for Wiltshire in 1820 and was made a baronet two years later. His passion seems to have been playing at soldiers with the county militia, in which he was an officer for more than thirty years despite becoming so fat that he found it difficult to find a horse that could carry him, and suffering badly from gout. He had only one son, Sir Francis Dugdale Astley (1805-73), 2nd bt., who inherited the Everleigh estate in 1842 but lived mainly in London, where he raised a large family. He eventually let Everleigh from 1856, but it remained in the family's ownership until his grandson sold it in 1917. Sir Francis' heir was Sir John Dugdale Astley (1828-94), 3rd bt., the sporting baronet, known to all his contemporaries as 'The Mate'.  As a young man he was noted as a sprinter, and spent ten years in the army, during which time he fought and was wounded in the Crimea. Judging by his memoirs, he treated the war - as far as possible - as an opportunity to shoot interesting game in unusual places.
Sir J.D. Astley, the sporting baronet
After marrying in 1858 and leaving the army the following year, he lived a life devote to sports of many kinds, and also to gambling on sporting matches. His first love was horse-racing, on which his wife was equally keen, and for some years they had a house at Newmarket, where he became a member and ultimately a steward of the Jockey Club. He owned and ran his own horses when he could afford it, but also helped to codify the rules of racing. According to his autobiography, he took to betting as a way of reducing his overdraft (don't try this at home), and his knowledge of the sport enabled him to win £28,000 net over the years. Having been an athlete in his youth, he became interested in 'pedestrianism', which involved competitive endurance walking in an arena (e.g. the maximum possible distance in six days). Matches attracted large and boisterous crowds but had a dubious reputation for cheating, petty crime and occasional violence. As with racing, the Mate codified the sport, establishing rules and introducing the Victorian spirit of fair play, and he became a promoter of matches at the Agricultural Hall in London and elsewhere. He was also a defender of bare-knuckle prize-fighting and cock-fighting, both barbaric practices which were on the way to being outlawed in his day. He published a rollicking volume of reminiscences a few months before his death in 1894, which was hailed by the Saturday Review as 'the sporting memoir of the century'.

The Mate's eldest son and heir was Sir Francis Edmund George Astley-Corbett (1859-1939), who had taken the additional name Corbett in 1889 on coming into the Elsham Hall estate in Lincolnshire at the age of 30. In 1894 Sir Francis inherited the baronetcy and the Everleigh estate from his father, and he seems also to have inherited some of his father's sporting and gambling instincts. He was a friend of the Prince of Wales, and in 1895, when the lake in the grounds of Buckingham Palace froze over, he participated in a widely-reported ice hockey match which the Prince organized there. Rather unexpectedly, however, he was also a keen horticulturalist, and promoted an annual flower show at Elsham. Perhaps because the Prince of Wales' smart set was rather expensive to run with, or perhaps because of the impact of increasing taxation during and after the First World War, Sir Francis sold the Everleigh estate in 1917 and Elsham Hall in 1925, and he lived his last years in a mansion flat in London. When he died in 1939, his only son having predeceased him, he was succeeded in the baronetcy by his grandson, Sir Henry Rivers Astley-Corbett (1915-43), 5th bt., who was killed during the Allied invasion of Sicily. The baronetcy then passed to a descendant of the youngest son of the 2nd baronet, Sir Francis Jacob Dugdale Astley (1908-94), 6th bt., and on his death, it expired. But the family's role as landed proprietors on any scale ended with the sale of Elsham Hall in 1925.

Patshull Hall, Staffordshire

Sir Thomas de Astley inherited the Patshull estate through his mother in the early 15th century. Very little is known about the house which the Astleys had at Patshull in the 15th-17th centuries, except that it was moated and stood on a more low-lying site. In 1666 it was assessed for tax on eighteen hearths, and in the 1680s it was described as built of squared stone and was considered with its grounds 'the most accomplished and delicious mansion in the whole county', but in 1698 Celia Fiennes thought it 'old and low'. The two statues of civil war soldiers in niches on the present gatehouse presumably came from the old building, which Sir Richard Astley planned to rebuild in the late 17th century, although he died before work could begin.

Patshull Hall: 17th statues from the gatehouse, 2008. Images: Nicholas Kingsley. Some rights reserved.

Patshull Hall: gatehouse building from the inner courtyard, 2008. Image: Nicholas Kingsley. Some rights reserved.

All other trace of the old house seems to have been swept away by Sir John Astley, 2nd bt. (1687-1771) when he built a new house to the design of James Gibbs from about 1738 onwards. It is no surprise to find him employing Gibbs, whose clientele was largely composed of diehard Tories and Jacobites. The house was constructed to Gibbs' designs by Francis Smith (d. 1738) 
of Warwick (whose son, Richard, was married to Astley's daughter) and his son William Smith (1705-47), and the carcase of the house seems to have been largely complete by 1742. The main block faces south onto the park and north onto a large walled forecourt, and is a plain square building of seven by seven bays with a rusticated ground floor. Because the site is on a slope, the ground floor onto the courtyard is at first floor level on the park front.  The centre of the house at this level is occupied by an entrance hall and saloon on the main axis. They rise, in effect, through one and a half storeys, and the piles of rooms behind the side elevations have a mezzanine storey to accommodate them.

After the completion of the main block, and the ranges on either side of the entrance forecourt, there was then a break of several years, presumably because Astley was distracted by the rebellion of 1745 and its aftermath, but perhaps also because Gibbs was in poor health (he died in 1754) and William Smith died in 1747. By 1749 William Baker of Audlem (Cheshire) was in charge. He seems to have been employed by Smith in the 1730s and had conceivably been the clerk of works at Patshull in the first phase of building. In 1754 he started building the two pavilions which joined the wings to the main block. In 1757 he was paid for plans of the chapel (presumably that at the north end of Gibbs' west wing) and the stables. He was probably also responsible for the gatehouse range which closes the forecourt on the north, and for most of the internal decoration of the house. Work was complete by 1758.

Patshull Hall: drawing of the house from the south, c.1800. Image: William Salt Library.
Patshull Hall: entrance hall, probably designed by James Gibbs.
Inside, Gibbs probably designed the splendid entrance hall, with pilasters and a coved ceiling, and the cornice in the saloon (which is similar to the cornice over the arches in the reading room of the Radcliffe Camera, Oxford), but the rich wall panels and a ceiling with a central wreath were more probably designed by Baker or left to the craftsmen. The remaining interiors, which also preserve a lot of 18th century decoration (plasterwork and chimneypieces) are more Rococo in feel, and perhaps owe more to William Smith or William Baker. 

Patshull Hall: saloon. The cornice was probably designed by James Gibbs but the remainder of the decoration may be by William Baker.

In 1803-05 Sir George Pigott obtained designs from Benjamin Wyatt (assisted by L.W. Wyatt) for alterations, but we do not know what was done at this time. It is possible that the work was connected with altering the loggia on the south front, which took a different from by 1820 from its appearance c.1800. In 1848 the Pigott family sold Patshull to William Legge (1784-1853), 4th Earl of Dartmouth, whose son, Viscount Lewisham (later the 5th Earl) moved into the house. In 1850 he was considering proposals by W.L. Granville of London for the raising of the two corner pavilions built by Baker and the creation of a new terrace on the south side of the house. However, it was William Burn and later his assistant and successor James Macvicar Anderson, who carried out these changes. In 1857 new kitchens were built at the north end of the west wing and the dining room was moved to the south end of that wing. Further alterations were made in 1874-78 by W.C. Banks. The principal staircase, in the north-west corner of the main block, was rebuilt in 1876, and in 1882 the south and west fronts of the west wing were extended to provide for an enlarged dining room and a billiard room which occupied the formerly recessed centre of the wing. A doorway, based on the design of the former archway in the west range (which had been filled in by 1875) was built to lead out from the billiard room via a double flight of steps into a new terraced garden on the west side of the house. The porch on the main north front was built in 1894.

Patshull Hall: the house from the south-east, 2008. The upper storeys of the tower are part of the 1850s additions by Burn and MacVicar Anderson. Image: Nicholas Kingsley. Some rights reserved.
Patshull Hall: the west wing altered by Burn and MacVicar Anderson, 1855-82.; photographed in 2008.
Image: Nicholas Kingsley. Some rights reserved.

By the late 17th century, there was an elaborate formal garden next to the old house, with walks, prospect mounds, statuary, knots, waterworks and elaborate wrought iron screens and gates. It was described in 1680 by Robert Plot thus:
"The house is built of squared stone quite through. The gardens about it have delicate vistas opening quite through them, with many stately gates of ironwork, curiously painted and gilt, leading into them, with mounts and places of repose at the ends. In them are most curious water-works, and great variety of them; viz. Within a large rotunda, fenced about with an high brick wall, opening with fair iron gates over against the front of the house, there is a curious large fountain, that throws up a column of water near an inch diameter a great heighth, which falls into a bason underneath, proportionably large, yielding a most grateful prospect, not only toward the house, but in the walks about it. In another garden, on the left side of the house, is a cock, to which there belongs an instrument, which may be put on or taken off at pleasure, which will cast water any way, according to the direction of him that governs it. In a garden on the North side of the house, the water passeth through a barrel into a cistern in the bird-cage; and Eastward of the house is a long fair canal, walled about with square stone, at the South end whereof is a delicate grotto, which adds very much to the perfection of this seat.
About the house are extraordinary plantations of trees, and admirable walks, to which, though there are other fine ones at other gentlemen's seats, yet none are comparable either for breadth or length, some of them being eleven, and others fourteen yards broad, and an hundred and forty-eight or an hundred and fifty yards long, curiously planted on each side with double rows of elms".

Some of these features may have been moved to the new house when it was built c.1740, as in about 1800 there was a collection of statuary below the south front. Both Sir Richard and Sir John Astley spent large sums on landscaping, and in 1759 Sir John was described as living 'the life of a recluse amidst an infinite of most delightful scenes'. After Sir George Pigot (d. 1775), who had made a fortune in India, bought Patshull in 1765, he brought in Capability Brown to landscape the grounds. He thinned the woodland to create vistas and more natural groupings of trees, and by 1768 the southern end of the Great Pool had been begun. The work of digging the lake was continued long after Brown's death by Sir Robert Pigot (d. 1796) and his son, Sir George, and by the end of the 18th century they had created the massive Y-shaped lake which is the chief feature of the historic park. A Doric temple was built on the west side of the lake, which in 1980 was incorporated into the Temple Hotel developed by the Legge family's Patshull Properties Development Co. In the mid to late 19th century the plain parkland setting of the house was softened by the creation of formal terraced gardens immediately west and south of the house.

Patshull Hall: aerial view from the north-east, showing the relationship between the house and its landscape setting.
During the Second World War part of the house became an orthopaedic rehabilitation centre, with the family occupying one wing, which they continued to do until 1963. After the war, it became a hospital for many years, but few structural changes were made for hospital purposes. After standing empty for a time it was restored and converted into a wedding venue from 1997 onwards, with some of the outbuildings becoming flats. The wedding business having been financially unsuccessful, however, the main block was sold in 2015 to a West Midlands businessman who intends to make it his private home.

Descent: Sir Thomas de Astley; to son, Thomas Astley (d. 1483); to son, William Astley (d. by 1497); to half-brother, Richard Astley (d. 1532); to son, Thomas Astley (c.1501-57); to son, Gilbert Astley (d. 1587); to son, Thomas Astley (d. 1632); to son, Walter Astley (c.1590-1656); to son, Sir Richard Astley (c.1625-88), 1st bt.; to son, Sir John Astley (1687-1771), 2nd bt., who sold 1765 to Sir George Pigot (1719-77), 1st bt. and 1st Baron Pigot; to brother, Sir Robert Pigot (1720-96), 2nd bt.; to son, Sir George Pigot (1766-1841), 3rd bt.; to son, Sir Robert Pigot (1801-91), 4th bt., who sold 1848 to William Legge (1784-1853), 4th Earl of Dartmouth; to son, William Legge (1823-91), 5th Earl of Dartmouth; to son, William Heneage Legge (1853-1934), 6th Earl of Dartmouth; to son, William Legge (1881-1958), 7th Earl of Dartmouth; to widow (d. 1963); leased from 1966 to Wolverhampton Area Health Authority and from 1972 vested in Patshull Properties Development Co. Ltd.; sold 1997 to Neil Avery; sold to Tim Reynolds; sold 2015.

Eastcote House, Barston, Warwickshire

A red brick house with a tiled roof, built in 1669, perhaps for Thomas Astley. The house has two storeys and attics lit by hipped dormer windows, and plain pilasters at the angles and flanking the windows. There is a modern brick porch. The house seems to have been built at the same time as Wharley Hall across the road, which also has the distinctive pilaster strips and is also dated 1669. It was perhaps built for another member of the family.

Odstone Hall, Leicestershire

Odstone Hall: the main front, as altered for Richard Astley in the late 18th century.
Image: Trevor Rickard. Some rights reserved.

In origin an Elizabethan or early 17th century house, which it is recorded was 'new cased in brick' by Sir Richard Astley in about 1686. The house was apparently let for much of the 18th century, but Richard Astley (1747-1830) made his home here and remodelled the house. He was no doubt responsible for the present handsome Georgian five-bay front with a pedimented central bay, hipped roof, and modillion cornice. The broad central bay has a doorcase with attached Doric columns, a broken pediment, and a narrow window to either side; the first-floor window above it is Venetian. At the back, the gabled rear wings of the 17th century house survive. Inside there is a 17th century staircase and one stone fireplace of the same date. Another, more elaborate chimneypiece of coloured alabaster is said to come from Kenilworth Castle, and was perhaps moved here by Sir Richard Astley.

Descent: acquired by Sir Richard Astley (c.1625-88), 1st bt. from the trustees of John Bradshaw, the regicide, c.1665; to son, Sir John Astley (1688-1771), 2nd bt.; to first cousin, twice removed, Richard Astley (1747-1830); apparently sold 1824 to Gopsall Hall estate; sold 1932...sold 2008.

Everleigh Manor, Wiltshire

Sir John Astley (1687-1771), 2nd bt., bought the Lower House estate in 1736, and he is said to have converted an inn with its stabling to meet his need for a hunting box. When he also bought the manor in 1765 he acquired the manor house that had reputedly been built by Sir Ralph Sadleir in the 16th century. Before 1773, this was remodelled and given a long, low nine-bay brick front and a central three-bay pediment. At the same time, the detached wings of seven bays were built, each having a central pediment. That on the west, which may have incorporated an earlier range, contained service rooms, that on the east an orangery. Beyond and at right angles to the latter there are stables of similar date with a pedimented loggia to the garden on the otherwise blind west wall.

Everleigh Manor, from an old postcard

Everleigh Manor: rear elevation and one of the pavilion wings, from an old postcard

In 1825 John Britton noted that 'the pleasure grounds have since been much augmented, by judiciously altering the direction of a public road, and removing a part of the village’. This work was undertaken for Francis Dugdale Astley and his second wife in 1810-11, and a new church was built in 1813 to the design of John Morlidge, who was at this time Sir Jeffry Wyatville's clerk of works at Longleat House.

Everleigh Manor: drawing of the interior as reconstructed after the fire of 1881, from The Builder.
In 1856 the Astleys moved away and Everleigh Manor was let to a series of sporting tenants. On 8 December 1881 a serious fire gutted the house and destroyed many 16th century fittings and most of the contents except for the Astley family portraits and some papers and fittings from the library, but the house was reconstructed in 1882-83 to the designs of John Birch, who contributed a drawing of the restored interior to The Builder in 1885. 

The house became a convalescent home in 1919 and was requisitioned in 1939 and used first as an hospital and later for the production of vaccines for troops; in 1954 it was sold to the Crown and it continued to be used as a laboratory until it was vacated in about 1990. It has recently been for sale.

Descent: Duchy of Lancaster leased to Sir Ralph Sadleir (fl. 1568-87), who was succeeded by his son Henry Sadleir (fl. 1581), grandson Francis Sadleir (fl. 1620) and great-grandson, George Sadleir (fl. 1631); sold 1625 to Corporation of City of London; sold by 1636 to George Evelyn (d. 1636); to son, Sir John Evelyn (fl. 1640-48); sold 1648 to Henry Andrews, who sold 1649 to William Barker; to grandson, Robert Barker (d. 1722); to nephew, Robert Barker, who sold 1765 to Sir John Astley (1687-1771), 2nd bt.; to first cousin, twice removed, Francis Dugdale Astley (d. 1818); to son, Sir John Dugdale Astley (1778-1842), 1st bt.; to son, Sir Francis Dugdale Astley (1805-73), 2nd bt., who let it from 1856; to son, Sir John Dugdale Astley (1828-94), 3rd bt.; to son, Sir Francis Edmund George Astley (later Astley-Corbett) (1859-1939), 4th bt., who sold c.1918 to a timber merchant; sold 1919 to National Deposit Friendly Society; requisitioned 1939 and sold 1954 to Crown.

Elsham Hall, Lincolnshire

Elsham Hall, from an advertisement of c.1800 for Mrs. Gardiner's Boarding School for Ladies.
Image: Lincolnshire Archives LCL/5158

A view of Elsham Hall in about 1800 shows an old house, perhaps of the late 17th or early 18th century, with one surviving gabled cross-wing and in place of the other a taller, three-storey late 18th century east wing with a two-storey canted bay window and a pediment on its end elevation. The east wing was probably built for Robert Thompson (d. 1788), and had an entrance front facing east. It is not clear whether the original design of this was similar to the present seven bay arrangement with a broader projecting central bay, but the composition of the south end, with a pediment above a canted bay, is reminiscent of the work of James Paine. Inside, this wing had an elegant staircase hall with pretty neo-classical plasterwork on its circular ceiling, and a cantilevered staircase with wrought iron balustrade, which survives at first floor level. There was also at least one other good plaster ceiling in the block (destroyed by dry rot in the 1940s) and there may have been others, lost in later remodellings.

Elsham Hall: south front before the alterations of 1933, from an old postcard.
Image: Society for Lincolnshire History & Archaeology
An early 20th century postcard shows that the centre of the old house had been rebuilt, probably for the Corbetts in the early 19th century. As part of this work, the roofline was raised so that the centre was taller than the west wing, whereas the view of c.1800 above shows the wing as taller than the centre. The postcard also shows that the pediment on the end of the late 18th century wing had been removed and replaced by a large Diocletian window, and that a single-storey extension had been added to the east front.

This was the house that the Elwes family bought in 1931. According to a report compiled at the time, the house lacked all modern conveniences, including electricity and central heating. It also transpired that the west wing was riddled with dry rot. As a result, it was decided to rebuild the west wing completely and to remodel the rest of the house within the existing walls. Rather than engage an architect for this work, Geoffrey Elwes and his mother (who funded most of the £20,000 cost) turned to Geoffrey's brother, Guy Elwes, a successful interior decorator who undertook a small number of architectural projects (another being a similar reconstruction of Warwick Hall (Cumbld.) for Mrs. Elwes' mother after a fire in 1931). He enlisted the support of an architect or surveyor named Forsyth (possibly William Adam Forsyth (1872-1951), who was in practice in London at this time). 

On 7 April 1932 the demolition of the west wing and other minor structures began. Work seems to have progressed rapidly and the final bill is dated 9 July 1934. In total, it would appear that the reconstruction cost about £20,000, some 50% more than the original estimate of £13,680. The cost of the work is not surprising considering its extent. It would seem that even though the walls of the central block and east wing were retained, they were largely gutted inside. The original arrangement of the south end of the east wing, with three small windows under a pediment, was reinstated, and this design was copied for the south end of the new west wing, so as to create a symmetrical south front.

Elsham Hall: the late 18th century east wing as altered by Guy Elwes, 1933. Image: Historic England/John Harris
As part of the alterations, the east front was given a new, slightly projecting, pedimented centrepiece, with a channelled stone base and rusticated quoins framing the angles above. The doorcase on the ground floor is deeply recessed, and above the first-floor Venetian window with its rusticated head is a curiously jarring horizontal slot window. 

Elsham Hall: south front in 2008. Image: © Barry Whitworth/Pictures of England

Elsham Hall: west front. Image: Richard Croft. Some rights reserved.

The new west front is now of five bays and two storeys, with tall parapets above the end bays suggesting towers at either end of the facade; the rainwater heads here are dated 1933. There are plain pilasters framing the end bays but very little other decoration except for a rather engaging little Scots Baronial oriel window with an ogee-shaped copper roof corbelled out in the centre of the first floor, which was designed as an eye-catcher from the lake. Guy Elwes was comfortable working in both classical and modernist styles, and his work at Elsham is something of a mix of the two; his classical alterations to the east front were taken as 18th century in the first edition of Pevsner, whereas his new west front is largely astylar and distinctly minimalist. The interior of the library, which occupies the whole of the ground floor of the west wing, was entirely classical, whereas the flat-roofed Roman Catholic chapel, built onto the north side of the house, was very largely modernist. The remaining interiors stand somewhere between the two, with classical chimneypieces mixed with unmoulded archways and glass-panelled doors.

Elsham Hall: the orangery dated 1761. Image: Historic England/ John Harris.

The grounds of the hall, now regularly open to the public, include an orangery dated 1761; a large fishpond south-west of the house, which is said to be medieval but which looks as though it may be a remodelling of an earlier formal canal; a quadrangular 19th century stable block which incorporates an unusually grand upper room of uncertain purpose with early 18th century style plasterwork; and a large walled garden. The avenue running across the fields to the south-east of the house was planted in the 20th century.

Descent: William Thompson (d. 1764); to son, Robert Thompson (d. 1788); to niece Elizabeth (née Edwin), wife of Thomas Corbett (1730-1808); to son, William Thompson Corbett (1759-1832); to son, Thomas George Corbett (d. 1868); to grandson, Sir Francis Edmund George Astley (later Astley-Corbett) (1859-1939), 4th bt., who came into his inheritance in 1889 and sold 1925 to King's College, Cambridge; sold 1931 to Col. Robert Geoffrey Gervase John Elwes (1890-1956); requisitioned in 1939 but returned to family 1948, when it was given to his nephew, Jeremy Gervase Geoffrey Philip Elwes (1921-99); to son, Gervase Elwes (b. 1956).

Astley family of Patshull Hall, baronets

Astley, Richard (d. 1532). Son of Thomas Astley (d. 1483) and his second wife Margaret, daughter of Sir William Boteler, kt. of Warrington (Lancs). He married Joan, daughter of Thomas Oteley of Pitchford (Shrops.) and had issue:
(1) Thomas Astley (d. c.1557) (q.v.);
(2) Joan Astley; married Thomas Bagot of Blithfield (Staffs) and had issue.
He inherited Patshull from his elder half-brother before 1497.
He died in 1531/2 and was buried at Patshull, where he and his wife are commemorated by a monument.

Astley, Thomas (c.1501-57). Only son of Richard Astley (d. 1532) and his wife Joan, daughter of Thomas Oteley of Pitchford (Shrops.), born about 1501. He married Mary, daughter and co-heiress of Sir Gilbert Talbot, kt. and had issue:
(1) Gilbert Astley (d. 1587) (q.v.);
(2) John Astley; from whom descended the Astleys of Aston Hall, Wem (Shrops.);
(3) Elizabeth Astley; married John Wrottesley of Wrottesley and had issue.
He inherited Patshull from his father in 1532.
He died between 1556 and 1558.

Astley, Gilbert (d. 1587). Elder son of Thomas Astley (c.1501-57) and his wife Mary, daughter and co-heiress of Sir Gilbert Talbot, kt. He married, c.1551, Dorothy, daughter of Sir Thomas Giffard, kt., of Chillington (Staffs), and had issue:
(1) Thomas Astley (d. 1632) (q.v.);
(2) Mary Astley; married John Wise;
(3) Elizabeth Astley; married Thomas Keymes;
(4) Cassandra Astley (fl. 1598); married, 7 February 1598, Thomas Fowler.
He inherited Patshull from his father in c.1557. 
He died in 1587.

Astley, Thomas (d. 1632). Only recorded son of Gilbert Astley (d. 1587) and his wife Dorothy, daughter of Sir Thomas Giffard of Chillington (Staffs). He married Margery (d. 1628), daughter of Sir Walter Aston, kt. of Tixall (Staffs), and had issue:
(1) Elizabeth Astley; married Robert Beresford of Nelston (Leics);
(2) Gilbert Astley (b. 1586), baptised at Albrighton, 28 October 1586; died unmarried;
(3) Richard Astley (b. 1587), baptised at Albrighton, 24 December 1587; died unmarried;
(4) Margaret Astley (1589-1619), baptised at Patshull, 30 September 1589; died unmarried and was buried at Patshull, 4 January 1619;
(5) Walter Astley (c.1590-1656) (q.v.);
(6) Edward Astley (b. 1591), baptised at Patshull, 1 March 1591; died unmarried;
(7) Thomas Astley (b. 1592), baptised at Patshull, 3 April 1592.
(8) Joyce Astley (1593-1632), baptised at Patshull, 13 May 1593; married Thomas Wightwick and had issue; buried at Patshull, 20 August 1632;
(9) Mary Astley (b. 1594), baptised at Patshull, 1 August 1594; married Robert Boune, counsellor at law;
(10) John Astley (d. 1632); died unmarried and was buried at Patshull, 24 July 1632;
(11) Anne Astley; died without issue;
(12) Dorothy Astley; married Richard Price, citizen of London;
(13) William Astley (d. 1622); died unmarried and was buried at Patshull, 11 December 1622;
He inherited Patshull from his father in 1587.
He died in 1631/2; his will was proved at Lichfield. His wife, who was excommunicated, was buried at Patshull in 1628 by special licence.

Astley, Walter (c.1590-1656). Only surviving son of Thomas Astley (d. 1632) and his wife Margery, daughter of Sir Walter Aston, kt. of Tixall (Staffs). A Roman Catholic in religion. During the Civil War he garrisoned his house for the Royalists, but it was assaulted and taken in 1645 and he was captured and his property sequestrated. He married Grace, daughter of Francis Trentham of Rocester (Staffs) and had issue:
(1) Sir Richard Astley (c.1625-88), 1st bt. (q.v.);
(2) John Astley; married Winifred, daughter of John Harrington of Bishton (Shropshire), and had issue;
(3) Walter Astley (d. 1703); buried at Patshull, 26? December 1703;
(4) Thomas Astley (d. 1711) [for whom see below, under Astley and Astley-Corbett families of Eastcote, Everleigh and Elsham];
(5) William Astley;
(6) Margaret Astley;
(7) Dorothy Astley; married Giles Greene of Essex;
(8) Mary Astley; married Alexander Wood of the Black Abbey, Shrewsbury (Shropshire);
(9) Anne Astley; died unmarried.
He inherited Patshull from his father in 1632.
He died 18 February 1656, aged 66. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Sir Richard Astley, 1st bt.
Astley, Sir Richard (c.1625-88), 1st bt. Elder son of Walter Astley (c.1590-1656) and his wife Grace, daughter of Francis Trentham of Rocester (Staffs), born about 1625. He raised a troop of horse for the Royalist cause and served as its Captain during the Civil War, and at the Restoration he was knighted for his loyalty and made a baronet, 13 August 1662. He married 1st, c.1655 (post-nuptial settlement 1665), Elizabeth, daughter of John Philipps of Picton Castle (Pembs.), and 2nd, c.1680, Henrietta (1660-1711), daughter and co-heiress of William Borlase of Marlow (Bucks), and had issue:
(1.1) Richard Astley (1657-82), baptised at Morville (Shropshire), 1 December 1657; died in Paris in the lifetime of his father, 1681/2;
(1.2) Elizabeth Astley (fl. 1663);
(1.3) Mary Astley (fl. 1663);
(1.4) Katherine Astley (fl. 1663);
(2.1) Henrietta Astley (b. c.1685); married, 1713 (bond 4 December), James Devey of Pattingham;
(2.2) Eleanor Astley;
(2.3) Sir John Astley (1688-1771), 2nd bt. (q.v.).
He also had an illegitimate child by a Miss Reynolds:
(X1) Ann Reynolds (d. 1729); married, 1686 (bond 18 November), Walter Stubbs (d. 1697) of Harrington (Staffs) and had issue; inherited Beckbury Hall (Shropshire) from her father; buried at Beckbury, 15 March 1729.
He inherited Patshull from his father in 1653 and recovered the sequestrated house in 1654 under an entail made in 1616. In 1665 he acquired the manor of Odstone (Leics), where he 'new cased the manor house in brick' in 1686. His second wife brought him a moiety of the manor of Eastcourt in Inkpen (Berks), which was sold by his son in 1726.
He died 24 February 1687/8 and was buried at Patshull, where he and his two wives are commemorated by an elaborate monument. His first wife died before c.1680. His widow married 2nd, 3 February 1689/90, Maj-Gen. John Richmond Webb (1667-1724) of Rodbourne Cheney (Wilts) and had further issue two sons and four daughters; she died 27 June 1711 aged 50 and was buried at Ludgershall (Wilts), 29 June 1711.

Astley, Sir John (1688-1771), 2nd bt. Only son of Sir Richard Astley (d. 1688), 1st bt. and his second wife, Henrietta, daughter and co-heiress of William Borlase of Marlow (Bucks), baptised at Patshull, 24 January 1687/8. He succeeded his father as an infant, 24 February 1687/8. Between 1706 and 1717 he fought a long battle in the courts for possession of the manor of Odstone (Leics), in which he was eventually successful. Tory MP for Shrewsbury, 1727-34 and for Shropshire, 1734-71. He was a known Jacobite supporter, whose name was sent to the Pretender in 1721 as a probable supporter in the event of an uprising. He married, 27 May 1711 at Tibberton (Shropshire), Mary (d. 1764), daughter and heir of Francis Prynce esq. of Whitehall, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury (Shropshire), from whom he was separated in about 1724, and had issue:
(1) Mary Astley (b. & d. 1712), baptised at Patshull, 24 February 1711/2 and died in infancy, 27 February 1711/2;
(2) Mary Astley (b. 1713), baptised at Patshull, 12 July 1713; died unmarried;
(3) Henrietta Astley (1715-91), baptised at Patshull, 13 March 1714/5; married 1st, Richard Smith (1714-53?) of The Wergs, Tettenhall (Staffs), whom I take to have been the son of that name of Francis Smith of Warwick, architect (who was born at The Wergs), and 2nd, 1754 at St Michael, Bristol, Edward Daniell (d. 1784) of Chester, Bristol and Bath; died without issue; lived latterly in Bath; will proved 2 March 1791;
(4) Alicia Astley (1716-91), born 19 October and baptised 11 November 1716; married, 23 September 1742 at St Julian, Shrewsbury, Charles Bennet (1716-67), Lord Ossulton (later 3rd Earl of Tankerville) and had issue three sons and two daughters; died in London, 28 February 1791 and was buried at Harlington (Middx);
(5) Anne Astley (1718-95), baptised at Patshull, 2 February 1717/8; died unmarried at Bath, June 1795; her will was proved 15 June 1795;
(6) Arabella Astley (1719-85), born 1 November and baptised 26 November 1719; married 1st, 5 January 1748 at St James, Westminster, Anthony Langley Swymmer MP (c.1724-60) of Longwood House (Hants) (who in 1752 was taken by his father-in-law to Paris to meet the Young Pretender about a proposal to restore the Stuarts), and 2nd, 1761 (licence 18 June), Sir Francis Vincent MP (c.1717-75), 7th bt. of Stoke d'Abernon (Surrey); died without issue, 20 June 1785; her will was proved 15 June 1785;
(7) Frances Astley (1721-64), baptised 4 June 1721 at St James, Westminster; married Col. James Bruno O'Donnell, an Irishman naturalised in France who became a chevalier and lord of Corbrandes near Blois (France), but had no issue; died in France and was buried 6 December 1764;
(8) Bridget Astley (b. & d. 1723), born 4 August and baptised 15 August 1723; died in infancy and was buried 17 August 1723;
(9) Richard Prince Astley (1725-56), born 11 November and baptised 14 November 1725; educated at University College, Oxford (matriculated 1742/3; created MA 1746/7); stood unsuccessfully as a Tory candidate for Parliament in Shrewsbury, 1747; died unmarried and without issue in the lifetime of his father, August 1756, at Boulogne (France) and was buried at Kensington (Middx), 15 September 1756;
He inherited Patshull from his father in 1688 and came of age in 1708. He rebuilt the house in 1738-58. In 1736 he bought a hunting box at Everleigh (Wilts) and in 1765 he sold Patshull (for £100,000) and bought Everleigh Manor, which he also rebuilt before his death. His wife inherited the Whitehall estate in the Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury from her father, and retired to this property on her separation from her husband; after she died it descended to her grandson, the 4th Earl of Tankerville.
He died 29 December 1771, when the baronetcy became extinct; his will was proved 18 February 1772. His wife died in 1764.

Astley and Astley-Corbett families of Eastcote House, Everleigh House and Elsham Hall, baronets

Astley, Thomas (d. 1711). Younger son of Walter Astley (c.1590-1656) of Patshull and his wife Grace, daughter of Francis Trentham of Rocester (Staffs), born about 1640. He married Jane, daughter and heir of Joseph Carver of Heather (Leics) and widow of Thomas Corbet of Barton (Leics) and had issue:
(1) Richard Astley (1662-1718) (q.v.);
(2) Thomas Astley (fl. 1674-1711?), born before 1674; probably still living in 1711.
He built Eastcote House, Barston (Warks) in 1668.
His will was proved 2 August 1711.

Astley, Richard (1662-1718). Elder son of Thomas Astley of Barston (Warks) and his wife Jane, daughter and heir of Joseph Carver of Heather (Leics) and widow of Thomas Corbet of Barton (Leics), born 1662. He married, 20 February 1706/7 at Barston, Elizabeth (d. 1761), daughter of Stanislaus Browne of Eastbourne (Sussex) and aunt of the 9th Viscount Montagu, and had issue:
(1) William Francis Corbet Astley (1708-90) (q.v.).
He inherited Eastcote House, Barston (Warks) from his father.
He died in 1718. His widow was buried at Barston, 19 January 1761.

Astley, William Francis Corbet (1708-90). Only recorded son of Richard Astley (d. 1718) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Stanislaus Browne of Eastbourne, born 1708; perhaps the Francis Astley who was baptised at Barston (Warks), 1710. He married, 6 March 1741 at Sheldon (Warks), Judith (b. 1711), daughter of Francis Bickley and his wife Judith (who was daughter and co-heir of William Dugdale of Blythe Hall (Warks)), and widow of Joseph Blakesley, and had issue:
(1) twin, Francis Bickley (later Dugdale) Astley (1742-1818) (q.v.);
(2) twin, John Astley (b. 1742), baptised at Kingsbury (Warks), 19 January 1742; probably died young;
(3) Richard Astley (1747-1830) of Odstone Hall (Leics), baptised at Kingsbury (Warks), 8 June 1747; renowned as a sheep and cattle breeder; inherited Odstone Hall from Sir John Astley, 2nd bt. in 1772 and was probably responsible for remodelling Odstone Hall in the late 18th century; married, 27 April 1784 at St Peter & St Paul, Aston (Warks), Mary, second daughter of John Boswell and had issue one son (who took the surname Gough in 1818); died at Misterton (Leics) 11 December 1830;
(4) Mary Astley; probably died unmarried;
(5) Bickley Astley (1754-57), baptised at Kingsbury, 7 March 1754; died young and was buried at Kingsbury, 11 May 1757.
He inherited Eastcote House, Barston (Warks) from his father in 1718, and came of age in 1729.
He is said to have died in 1790. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Astley, Francis Bickley later Dugdale (1742-1818). Elder son of William Francis Corbet Astley (1708-90) and his wife Mary, daughter of Francis Bickley, baptised at Kingsbury (Warks), 19 January 1742. JP and DL for Wiltshire; High Sheriff of Wiltshire, 1776-77. Lt-Col. of Wiltshire Yeomanry Cavalry. Joint Clerk of Salisbury races, 1780. He was highly respected for his blameless private life and the constant attention he paid to improving his estates, including rebuilding the church and rectory, although this work also involved demolishing half the village. He was baptised as Francis Bickley Astley but adopted the middle name Dugdale in lieu of Bickley after he inherited property from his maternal grandfather, William Dugdale of Blythe Hall (Warks). He married 1st, 26 December 1775, Mary (d. 1804), daughter and co-heir of William Buckler of Boreham (Wilts), and 2nd, 19 February 1805, Anne Geast (d. 1813) and had issue:
(1.1) Ann Astley (1777-98), baptised at Everleigh, 16 January 1777; died unmarried at Bath, 21 January 1798;
(1.2) Sir John Dugdale Astley (1778-1842), 1st bt. (q.v.);
(1.3) Arabella Astley (b. & d. 1779), baptised at Everleigh, 26 June 1779; died in infancy and was buried at Everleigh, 29 June 1779;
(1.4) William Buckler Astley (1781-1849) of Ryde (IoW), baptised at Everleigh, 19 January 1781; married, 24 March 1818, Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Assheton Smith of Tidworth House (Hants) and had issue a daughter; buried 20 September 1849;
(1.5) Rev. Francis Bickley Astley (1782-1856), born 8 December 1782 and baptised at Everleigh, 12 January 1783; educated at Oriel College, Oxford (matriculated 1802; BA 1806; MA 1809); ordained deacon, 1807 and priest, 1809; rector of Manningford Abbots (Wilts), 1810-56, Bishopstrow (Wilts), 1820-30 and Everleigh, 1830-56; chaplain to Marquess of Ailesbury; married, 1813, Mary Anne (1785-1872), daughter of John Newdigate Ludford of Ansley Hall (Warks) and had issue three sons and four daughters (from whom descend the Ludford-Astleys of Ansley Hall, who will be covered in a future post on the Ludford family); died at Manningford Abbots, 29 October 1856; his will proved 11 February 1857;
(1.6) Benjamin Astley (1787-1814), born 20 January and baptised at Everleigh, 25 February 1787; An officer in the 17th Light Dragoons (Cornet, 1805; Lt., 1813); died at Bombay (India) and was buried there 10 October 1814.
He inherited Everleigh Manor (Wilts) from his first cousin twice removed, Sir John Astley, 2nd bt., in 1771.
He died 26 April and was buried at Everleigh, 4 May 1818. His first wife died 23 September 1804. His second wife died 5 December 1813.

Astley, Sir John Dugdale (1778-1842), 1st bt. Eldest son of Francis Dugdale Astley (1742-1818) and his wife Mary, daughter and co-heir of William Buckler of Boreham (Wilts), born 27 January and baptised at Everleigh, 6 March 1778. Educated at Oriel College, Oxford (matriculated 1795). An officer in the Wiltshire militia (Capt., 1799; Maj. by 1810; retired, 1831); High Sheriff of Wiltshire, 1836-37. Independent MP for Wiltshire, 1820-32 and North Wiltshire, 1832-34. He was created a baronet, 15 August 1821. He was a very fat man and suffered in his later years from gout. He married, 27 July 1803 at Alverstoke (Hants), Sarah (1782-1824), daughter of William Page of Gosport (Hants), and had issue:
(1) Sir Francis Dugdale Astley (1805-73), 2nd bt.;
(2) twin, Mary Anne Astley (1804-85), born 27 May 1804 and baptised at Everleigh, 3 March 1806; married, 18 March 1833, George Byng (1812-84), 7th Viscount Torrington, and had issue one daughter; died 26 January 1885; her will was proved 3 March 1885 (effects £21,558);
(3) twin, Sarah Astley (1804-20), born 27 May 1804 and baptised at Everleigh, 3 March 1806; died young and was buried at Everleigh, 5 October 1820.
He inherited Everleigh Manor (Wilts) from his father in 1818.
He died 19 January 1842; his will was proved in the PCC, 9 February 1842. His wife died 31 August and was buried at Eveleigh, 6 September 1824.

Astley, Sir Francis Dugdale (1805-73), 2nd bt. Only recorded son of Sir John Dugdale Astley (1778-1842), 1st bt., born 5 November 1805. DL for Wiltshire. Educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1825). He married, 26 November 1826 at St. Marylebone (Middx), his cousin Emma Dorothea (1808-72), fourth daughter of Sir Thomas Buckler Lethbridge, 2nd bt., and had issue including:
(1) Sir John Dugdale Astley (1828-94), 3rd bt. (q.v.);
(2) Anna Maria Sarah Astley (1829-83), born 10 September 1829; married, 10 February 1859 at St. Michael, Chester Square, London, Capt. Daniel Alexander McNeill (d. 1901), son of Edmund Alexander O'Neill of Cushendun (Antrim); died at Cushendun House, 17/18 April 1883;
(3) Maj. Hugh Francis Lethbridge Astley (1831-1910), born 23 October and baptised at Bishopstrow, 31 December 1831; educated at University College, Oxford (matriculated 1850); an officer in Royal Wilts Yeomanry Cavalry (Cornet, 1856; Lt., 1862; Maj.); JP for Wiltshire; partner in Astley & Co., merchants; bankrupted, May 1867 but discharged two months later; married 1st, 12 May 1853 at St. George, Hanover Sq., London, Augusta Marianna Ellen Janet (1835-74), second daughter of James Peel Cockburn of Uplyme (Dorset) and had issue one son and three daughters; married 2nd, Oct-Dec 1898, Jessie Louisa (1878-1964) (who m2, 22 December 1913, Edward Raymond Plumbe of Southport (Lancs)), daughter of Alfred Aves, and had further issue one son and two further daughters; died 24 June 1910;
(4) Cecile Maria Astley (1836-1913), baptised at Bishopstrow, 19 January 1836; married, 27 May 1868 at St Paul, Wilton Place, London, Edmond Robert Henry Gray (1840-1912), son of Rev. Henry Gray, and had issue two sons and one daughter; died Oct-Dec. 1913 and was buried at Benhall (Suffk);
(5) Thurlow Augustus Astley (1838-1918), born 23 March and baptised at Bishopstrow (Wilts), 12 May 1838; educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1856; BA 1861); factory inspector, 1868; married, 5 August 1891, Henrietta Susannah (1847-1926), second daughter of the Hon. Henry Hanbury-Tracy, but had no issue; died 17 August and was buried at Frimley (Surrey), 21 August 1918; will proved 21 October 1918 (estate £2,365);
(6) Adelaide Fanny Ashworth Astley (1841-1900), baptised at Bishopstrow, 3 September 1841; married, 10 August 1865, Rev. Thomas Blundell (d. 1905), rector of Halsall (Lancs), son of R.B.H. Blundell of Deysbrook (Lancs) and had issue; died 17 October and was buried at Halsall, 20 October 1900; administration of goods granted 2 April 1901 and 24 January 1906 (estate £19,540);
(7) Arthur Frederick Astley (1843-83), born 4 February and baptised at Bishopstrow, 22 March 1843; an officer in the 11th Foot (Lt.); married, 29 June 1880 at St Mary, Bryanston Square, London, Julia (b. 1837) (who m2, 27 October 1887 at St Mary, Bryanston Square, London, Rev. Arthur Castell Wright (1845-1905), chaplain in the Royal Navy), daughter of Charles Henry Pigot, but had no issue; died 29 December 1883; administration of goods granted 9 January 1885 (effects £267);
(8) Maj. Spencer Byng Astley (1844-1915), born 4 October and baptised at St John, Paddington (Middx), 27 November 1844; an officer in North Devon Regiment from 1863 (Lt., 1867; Capt. 1877; retired as Maj., c.1882; paymaster to 2nd Dragoons); freemason; married, 1885, Rose (c.1865-1919), daughter of John Halle, and had issue two sons and two daughters; died 12 February 1915;
(9) Ethel Georgiana Mary Astley (1848-71); married, 11 August 1868 at St Paul, Wilton Place, London, Hillyar David Chapman (1846-1913) (who m2, 1878, Alfreda Lucy Darby (1853-1922)) and had issue a daughter; died 22 July 1871;
(10) Rev. Anthony Aylmer Astley (1850-1917), born 10 October 1850; educated at Corpus Christi and Trinity Colleges, Cambridge (admitted 1870; BA 1876; MA 1901); ordained deacon, 1876 and priest, 1877; rector of Everleigh (Wilts), 1877-1917; married 1st, 4 January 1872, Sarah Amelia Lucy (c.1840-1902), daughter of John Lane of Leyton Grange (Essex) and widow of George Temple of Bishopstrow (Wilts) and had issue one surviving daughter; married 2nd, 18 November 1902 at Thursley (Surrey), Margaret Lily (1874-1948), second daughter of Rev. Francis Harcourt Gooch and had issue one son (who succeeded as the 6th and last Astley baronet in 1943 and died in 1994) and one daughter; died 9 March 1917; will proved 22 June 1917 (estate £1,353).
He inherited Everleigh Manor from his father in 1842. The house was let from 1856 onwards and he lived mainly in London.
He died 23 July 1873; his will was proved 23 September 1873 (effects under £20,000). His wife died 9 December 1872.

Sir John Dugdale Astley, 3rd bt.
Astley, Lt-Col. Sir John Dugdale (1828-94), 3rd bt. Eldest son of Sir Francis Dugdale Astley (1805-73), 2nd bt., and his wife Emma Dorothea, fourth daughter of Sir Thomas Buckler Lethbridge, 2nd bt., born in Rome, 19 February and baptised 10 March 1828. Educated privately and at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1846). An officer in Scots Fusilier Guards, 1848-59 (Lt., 1849; Capt., 1855; retired as Lt-Col.), who served in the Crimea, where he was wounded in the neck at the Battle of Alma, 1854, and was awarded the Turkish Order of Medjidie for his service. MP for North Lincolnshire, 1874-80; JP for Wiltshire and Lincolnshire. He was a keen sportsman and gambler, widely known as "The Mate", and noted in youth for his abilities as a sprinter. In middle age he codified pedestrianism (the sport of walking the greatest possible distance in a set period) and made it a respectable and immensely popular entertainment. His first love was however horseracing, and he and his wife (who shared his passion) became familiar figures at Newmarket, where he was elected to the Jockey Club in 1869 (Steward, 1875-78), and he helped to revise the rules of racing and supervised the rebuilding of the Rowley Mile Stands. During the lifetime of his father-in-law, who had a horror of the turf, Astley raced under the borrowed name of "Mr S. Thellusson". He took to betting with a view to reducing his overdraft, and his knowledge of the sport enabled him to win some £28,000 over the years. He also speculated unsuccessfully in luxury clubs, and was a supporter of bare-knuckle prize fighting and cock-fighting. His autobiography, Fifty years of my life, published in 1894, was described by the Saturday Review as ‘the sporting memoir of the century’. He married, 22 May 1858, Eleanor Blanche Mary (d. 1897), only child of Thomas George Corbett of Elsham Hall (Lincs), and had issue:
(1) Sir Francis Edmund George Astley (later Astley-Corbett) (1859-1939), 4th bt. (q.v.);
(2) Mary Beatrice Astley (1860-1919), born 27 February and baptised at St Peter, Eaton Square, London, 16 March 1860; perhaps produced an illegitimate child as she was briefly confined in Holloway Sanatorium in 1899 and died at the Devon House of Mercy, Bovey Tracey, 13 April 1919; buried at Poundstock (Cornwall); will proved 11 June 1919 (estate £6,780);
(3) Reginald Leonard Astley (1861-70), born 15 May and baptised at Richmond (Surrey), 2 July 1861; died young (from complications after measles) at St. Michael's School, Aldin House, Slough (Bucks), 20 June and was buried at Elsham, 24 June 1870;
(4) Eleanor Corisande Astley (1867-1950), born 28 May and baptised at St Peter, Eaton Square, London, 22 June 1867; interior designer and furniture dealer; married, 15 April 1899 at St Paul, Knightsbridge (Middx), Edward Roland Soames (1869-1943), second son of Stephen Soames of Hallgrove, Bagshot (Surrey) and had issue one daughter; died 20 July 1950;
(5) Elise Sybil Astley (1868-1919), born 29 October and baptised at St Peter, Eaton Sq., London, 23 November 1868; living alone in lodgings in London in 1911; died at Gorse Cottage, Tilford (Surrey), 14 October 1919; will proved 12 December 1919 (estate £3,149);
(6) (John) Gerald Astley (b. 1871), born 4 April and baptised at St Peter, Eaton Sq., London, 1 May 1871; living in 1896; possibly the man of this name who travelled to South Africa in 1898;
(7) John Astley (1874-96), born 14 March 1874; died of fever at Johannesberg (South Africa), 8 May 1896;
(8) Adeline Hilda Brudenell Astley (1876-1943), born 11 December 1876; married, 11 October 1902 at St Paul, Knightsbridge (Middx), Gerard David Ernle Chapman (1876-1924), stockbroker, of Isle Dean, Maidenhead (Berks), son of Maj. Frederic Barclay Chapman, but had no issue; died 1 March 1943; administration of her goods granted 18 June 1943 (estate £1,970).
He inherited the Everleigh Manor estate from his father in 1873.
He died 10 October 1894; administration of his goods was granted to his eldest son, 18 December 1894 (effects £3,542). His widow died in Brighton (Sussex), 7 June 1897; her will was proved 14 July 1897 (effects £23,264).

Sir F.E.G. Astley-Corbett, 4th bt.
Astley (later Astley-Corbett), Sir Francis Edmund George (1859-1939), 4th bt. Eldest son of Sir John Dugdale Astley (1828-94), 3rd bt. and his wife Eleanor Blanche Mary, only child of Thomas George Corbett of Elsham Hall (Lincs), born in Rome (Italy), 6 February 1859. Educated at Eton. An officer in the Scots Guards, 1879-88 (Lt.) who served on the Suakim expedition, 1885; and also in the Lincolnshire militia, 1877-79, (Lt., 1878; Capt. by 1890). JP for Lincolnshire and London. He assumed the additional name and arms of Corbett by royal licence, 11 December 1889, as a condition of inheriting his maternal grandfather's Elsham estate in Lincolnshire. A friend of the Prince of Wales, he was a member of the Prince's Sandringham team which played an ice hockey match on the frozen lake at Buckingham Palace against a House of Commons side in 1895. He was interested in horticulture and promoted an annual Flower Show at Elsham; in the weeks before his death he was advising his daughter on the design of new gardens at Slaugham Place. He married, 5 June 1882 at Everleigh, Lady Gertrude Augusta (1861-1920), daughter of Charles Anderson-Pelham, 3rd Earl of Yarborough and had issue:
(1) John Dugdale Pelham Astley-Corbett (1883-1937) (q.v.);
(2) Marjorie Gertrude Marcia Astley-Corbett (1886-1954), born 26 July 1886; married, 6 April 1907, her cousin, Maj. Cuthbert Leigh Blundell-Hollinshead-Blundell (c.1880-1947), of Slaugham Place (Sussex), son of Canon Thomas Blundell-Hollinshead-Blundell, and had issue two daughters; died 5 February 1954; will proved 7 August 1954 (estate £6,724);
(3) Nora Sybil Astley-Corbett (1888-1947), born 19 May 1888; died unmarried, 13 June 1947; will proved 17 October 1947 (estate £18,482).
He inherited the Elsham Hall estate from his maternal grandfather on reaching the age of 30 in 1889; he sold Elsham in 1931 and lived subsequently at Cadogan Court in London. He also inherited the Everleigh Manor estate from his father in 1894, but sold it in 1917. 
He died 5 February and was buried at Elsham, 10 February 1939; his will was proved 19 April and 16 September 1939 (estate £19,830). His wife died 6 July and was buried at Elsham, 10 July 1920; her will was proved 12 April 1921 (estate £1,584).

Astley-Corbett, Capt. John Dugdale Pelham (1883-1937). Only son of Sir Francis Edmund George Astley (later Astley-Corbett) (1859-1939), 4th bt., and his wife Lady Gertrude Augusta Anderson-Pelham, daughter of 3rd Earl of Yarborough, born 25 October 1883. Educated at Eton and Royal Military College, Sandhurst. An officer in the 1st Battn, Scots Guards, 1903-20 (Lt., 1904; Capt., 1913; T/Major, 1917; retired 1920); served in First World War (wounded). JP for Wiltshire, 1922. He married, 25 February 1914, Marcia Ruth Georgiana (1891-1975), only daughter of Alexander Edward Lane Fox-Pitt-Rivers of Rushmore (Wilts) and had issue:
(1) Sir Francis Henry Rivers Astley-Corbett (1915-43), 5th bt. (q.v.);
(2) Pamela Irene Astley-Corbett (1919-2012), born 27 June 1919; married, 12 April 1951, Archibald Thomas Dunn (1922-77) of Overbury Hall, Layham, Hadleigh (Suffk), elder son of Cmdr. Archibald Hugh Mafeking Dunn DSC RN of Weymouth (Dorset) and had issue two sons and three daughters; died 22 May 2012 and was buried at Layham; will proved 30 September 2013.
He lived at The Ridge, Bransgore, Christchurch (Hants).
He died in the lifetime of his father, 28 October 1937; his will was proved 22 December 1937 (estate £2,808) and a further grant of administration was made 27 February 1951 (unadministered estate of £13,961). His widow lived latterly at Stoke-by-Nayland (Suffk) and died 11 January 1975; her will was proved 3 April 1975 (estate £40,607).

Astley-Corbett, Sir (Francis) Henry Rivers (k/a Hal) (1915-43), 5th bt. Only son of John Dugdale Pelham Astley-Corbett (1883-1937) and his wife Marcia Ruth Georgiana, only daughter of Alexander Edward Lane Fox-Pitt-Rivers of Rushmore (Wilts), born 29 December 1915. Educated at The Old Malthouse School (Dorset). He succeeded his grandfather as 5th baronet, 5 February 1939. He served in the Second World War as an officer in the Scots Guards (Lt., 1940; Capt., 1942). He was unmarried and without issue.
He was killed in action in Italy, 10 September 1943 and was buried in Salerno War Cemetery, Sicily; his will was proved 12 September 1944 and 24 February 1945 (estate £156,379).


Burke's Dormant and Extinct Peerage, 1883, pp. 12-13; Burke's Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies, 2nd edn., 1841, pp. 23-24; J. Brown, Reports of cases upon appeals and writs of error determined in the High Court of Parliament, 1803, iv, pp. 505-12; Sir N. Pevsner & A. Wedgwood, The buildings of England: Warwickshire, 1966, p.86; Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Staffordshire, 1974, pp. 217-19; Sir N. Pevsner & B. Cherry, The buildings of England: Wiltshire, 2nd edn., 1975, p. 242; T. Friedman, James Gibbs, 1984, pp. 150, 322; G. Worsley, 'Elsham Hall, Lincolnshire', Country Life, 2 October 1986, pp. 1020-23; Sir N. Pevsner, J. Harris & N. Antram, The buildings of England: Lincolnshire, 2nd edn., 1989, p. 271; A. Gomme, Smith of Warwick, 2000, p. 542.

Location of archives

Astley of Patshull, baronets: some deeds, manorial and estate papers are included in the records of the Legge family, Earls of Dartmouth [Staffordshire Record Office, Stafford: D(W)1778, D564, D742, D761, D853, D1501, D3074, D3629]
Astley of Everleigh, baronets: deeds, maps, manorial and estate papers, 14th-1920 [Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre WRO1392, 175, 3330]

Coat of arms

Azure, a cinquefoil pierced ermine.

Can you help?

Here are a few notes about information and images which would help to improve the account above. If you can help with any of these or with other additions or corrections, please use the contact form in the sidebar to get in touch.

  • Can anyone provide further information about the architectural development of Odstone Hall, or its ownership after 1932?
  • The genealogy of the 16th century generations of this family is particularly weak. If anyone can provide more information or corrections, I should be very pleased to receive them.
  • Can anyone supply portraits of further members of this family? The family pictures are said to have been rescued from the fire at Everleigh in 1881, and may still survive.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 29 June 2016 and updated 8 and 19 July 2016 and 21 December 2022. I am grateful to Rob Wheeler for help with this account, and to Sukey Dunn and Anne Pollen for corrections.