Sunday 4 December 2022

(530) Beech of The Shawe and Brandon Hall

Beech of The Shawe and Brandon Hall 
The origins of this family are more obscure than those of most I have investigated to date. The genealogy below begins with John Beech (c.1652-c.1727), who lived at Holly Greave in Burslem (Staffs), and who is said to have had two sons, John and William, who became respectively a physician and an apothecary, which may suggest that their father also had a career in this field. Nothing is known of their training or apprenticeship, but John (c.1680-1763) married Mary Stubbs, the daughter and co-heir of John Stubbs, a tenant of the Harley family at The Shawe, and inherited the lease after his father-in-law's death, but he died without issue. William Beech (b. c.1682) settled at Tideswell (Derbys) and was evidently a figure of some status in the community, as he features several times in legal documents as a trustee or executor. His only surviving child, John Beech (1722-87) became an attorney, and also lived at Tideswell until he inherited the lease of The Shawe from his uncle in 1763. By this time The Shawe was the property of the Banks family of Revesby Abbey (Lincs), and John's youngest (and probably only surviving) son, James Beech (1765-1828) was in a position to purchase the freehold of The Shawe from Sir Joseph Banks, the naturalist, in about 1790. He also had the means to replace the existing old house with a substantial new mansion shortly afterwards, and later generations of the family became seriously wealthy. It may be that John Beech's legal practice was responsible for laying the foundations of this prosperity, but it seems probable that the estate's situation on the Churnet Valley coalfield was more significant. I have not, however, found any references to the Beech family as coalowners or mining entrepreneurs, and James Beech's elaborate will does not contain any references to coal-working, so this remains conjectural.

James Beech's only son, James Beech (1812-83), seems not to have been enamoured of The Shawe, for he let it and in 1837 he invested a reported £70,000 in the purchase of a rather charming little villa called Brandon Cottage near Coventry and the accompanying estate. The house, designed by Robert Lugar, was less than thirty years old, but had been left incomplete when the client, Lord Grey de Ruthyn, died during construction. He renamed it Brandon Lodge (and later Brandon Hall) and was no doubt responsible for building the service wings of the house. James married in 1843 and produced five sons and one daughter. In the 1840s he was prominent in the promotion of railway companies, but although he was no doubt an investor (which may have contributed usefully to his wealth, estimated at £227,000 when he died in 1883), he seems never to have become a director of any of the companies. His eldest surviving son, Rowland John Beech (1853-1919) succeeded him in both his estates, and like his father preferred to live at Brandon. He pursued an active military career, at first in the Life Guards and later in the Warwickshire Yeomanry Cavalry, of which he was commanding officer from 1906-09. His elder son and son-in-law having been killed in the early years of the First World War, he then volunteered for active service and despite being in his 60s was accepted, only to be invalided home in 1918. He never fully recovered his health and died in 1919. His surviving son, Douglas Charles Murray Beech (1889-1944) then sold The Shawe, perhaps partly to pay the death duties on the estate, which was valued at over £200,000. He continued to live at Brandon Hall until his own death in 1944, when his son, Rowland James Beech (1921-79) was obliged to sell that too to pay a second lot of death duties.

The Shawe, Kingsley, Staffordshire

A remarkably little-known and under-recorded house, known at different times as The Booth, Booth Hall, The Shawe, and Shawe Hall. It seems to have formed part of a large estate at Cheadle and Kingsley that belonged to the Harley family until 1719, when it was sold to Joseph Banks (1665-1727). The Shawe was leased to John Stubbs and later to his son-in-law, John Beech (c.1680-1763) and to John's nephew, John Beech (1722-87). According to Burke's Visitation of Seats and Arms (1853), there was a late medieval or Tudor house here on a different site to the later house. In about 1790, The Shawe was sold by Sir Joseph Banks, the botanist, to the then tenant, James Beech (1765-1828), who rebuilt the house soon afterwards. It had a five bay pedimented centre, linked by two recessed bays to projecting wings with canted bays. 

The Shawe, Kingsley: sepia wash drawing by J.C. Buckler, 1841? Image: William Salt Library, Stafford SV III.66

The Shawe, Kingsley: the house at the time of its sale in 1919.

The house was recorded in this form by J.C. Buckler in the mid 19th century, but it was remodelled again later to singularly unfortunate effect. The five-bay centre was reconstructed as three wide bays, with tripartite windows in the outer bays, and the central section of the roof was raised and given dormer windows. The house was sold by the Beech family in about 1920, and had been abandoned by the 1950s, perhaps because it was suffering from mining subsidence. By 1961 it was derelict, and although still standing in 1985, when SAVE Britain's Heritage considered it as a restoration project, it was demolished in 1987.

Descent: Lord Harley sold 1719 to Joseph Banks (1665-1727); to son, Joseph Banks (1695-1741); to son, William Banks (1719-61); to son, Sir Joseph Banks 1743-1820); who sold c.1790 to James Beech (1765-1828); to son, James Beech (1813-83); to son, Rowland John Beech (1853-1919); sold after his death... The house was leased to John Stubbs (1630-1703), from whom it passed to his daughter Mary, wife of John Beech (c.1680-1763); to nephew, John Beech (1722-87); whose son, James Beech (1765-1828) purchased the freehold. The house was usually leased again from 1828 onwards.

Brandon Hall, Warwickshire

There was a 12th century castle at Brandon, of which the earthworks remain by the river Avon. A modest timber-framed manor house, of which there is a drawing in the Aylesford Collection in Birmingham Archives, was built in the 16th century to the north of the castle site, but by the early 19th century this was 'completely dilapidated' and most of it was demolished to make way for a picturesque villa, designed by Robert Lugar. 

Brandon Hall: Robert Lugar's engraving of the new house he designed c.1808-10, published in his Plans and Views (1811).
The client was Henry Edward Yelverton (1780-1810), 19th Lord Grey de Ruthin, whose ancestor Sir Henry Yelverton had acquired the manor in 1615, but the precise date of the building is unclear. Lord Grey came of age in 1801 and from 1803 rented Newstead Abbey (Notts) during the minority of the 6th Lord Byron, with whom he had a close friendship for a time. He was married in 1809 to Anna Maria Kellam from Ryton-on-Dunsmore (Warks), which suggests that he was living at Brandon by then. The house, which was at first called Brandon Cottage and later Brandon Lodge, 'became so agreeable, and afforded so much comfort, that his lordship gave up all thought of any other residence, and determined to sit down in domestic peace in the cottage'. However, he was not destined to enjoy his domestic idyll for long, for he died in 1810, at which the time 'the part of the plan to the east, which composes [sic] the kitchen and other offices' had not been begun, and work was suspended after Lord Grey's death. 

Brandon Hall: Robert Lugar's plan of the house of c.1808-10: it would seem that only the parts shown in black were executed
before the client's death in 1810 brought work to a sudden halt.
Lugar (c.1773-1855) was probably associated with John Nash during his years in Wales, for they were both living in Carmarthen in 1796, and Lugar's castellated mansions and Italianate villas owe much to Nash's slightly earlier essays in the same vein. By 1799, however, Lugar was in independent practice in London, and although he probably built little at first, after about 1806 he became a successful exponent of the fashion for picturesque castellated Gothick mansions and cottages ornés, promoting his designs through a series of collections of his plans and elevations. Brandon appeared in Plans and views of buildings executed in England and Scotland in the castellated and other styles, which first appeared in 1811

Brandon Hall: aerial view of the house from the south, c.1960, from an old postcard.

Brandon Hall: view of the house from the south-east in the early 20th century, from an old postcard.
The house was apparently let during the minority of his daughter (later Lady Hastings), who sold it in the 1830s. It was probably James Beech, who bought the house in about 1837, who completed the rebuilding of the house with new service ranges, although on a much larger scale than Lugar intended. Either at the same time or later, some fairly gruesome changes were made to the south-facing entrance front. The main entrance was moved from its original position to the bow-windowed room to its west, and the bow was shorn of its picturesque veranda. A new block was built to the west of this; the original conservatory to the right of the entrance was demolished and two new irregular blocks took its place. The new ranges were given plate glass casement windows in contrast to the sashes and French windows of the original design. As a result of the changes the house became a great deal larger than the first bijou little villa, but it was shorn of almost all its Regency elegance. After the Second World War, it was sold and converted into an hotel, for which further alterations were made in 1963 and later.

Descent: Henry Edward Yelverton (1780-1810), 19th Lord Grey de Ruthin; to daughter, Barbara (1810-58), later wife of George Rawdon-Hastings (1808-44), 2nd Marquess of Hastings; sold c.1835 to [forename unknown] Brown of Liverpool; sold 1837 to James Beech (1813-83); to son, Rowland John Beech (1853-1919); to son, Douglas Charles Murray Beech (1889-1944); to son, Col. Rowland James Beech (1921-72), who sold 1946 for conversion into an hotel.

Beech family of The Shawe and Brandon Hall

Beech, John (c.1652-c.1727). Only recorded son of John Beech (c.1620-c.1703) of Holly Greave, Burslem (Staffs), yeoman, and his wife Hester, daughter of Robert Bagnold of Fenton Vivian (Staffs), born bout 1652. He married [name unknown] and had issue:
(1) John Beech (b. c.1680) (q.v.);
(2) William Beech (b. c. 1682) (q.v.).
He lived at Holly Greave, Burslem.
He is said to have died in 1727. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Beech, John (c.1680-1763). Elder son of John Beech (c.1652-1727) of Holly Greave, Burslem (Staffs) and his wife, born about 1680. Physician. He married Mary, eldest daughter and co-heiress of John Stubbs (1630-1703) of The Shawe, Kingsley (Staffs), but had no issue.
He inherited a lease of The Shawe in right of his wife after 1703.
He was buried at Kingsley, 4 April 1763; his will was proved at Lichfield, 9 December 1765. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Beech, William (b. c. 1682). Younger son of John Beech (c.1652-c.1727) of Holly Greave, Burslem (Staffs), and his wife, said to have been born 1682. Apothecary. He married [name unknown] (d. 1758) and had issue:
(1) William Beech (d. 1719); died young and was buried at Tideswell, 3 August 1719:
(2) John Beech (1722-87) (q.v.);
(3) Elisabeth Beech (b. 1725), baptised at Tideswell, 27 May 1725;
(4) James Beech (1727-34), baptised at Tideswell, 29 June 1727; died young and was buried at Tideswell, 8 May 1734:
(5) William Beech (b. 1731), baptised at Tideswell, 13 March 1730/1; died young:
(6) Thomas Beech (b. & d. 1733), baptised at Tideswell, 31 March 1733; died in infancy and was buried at Tideswell, 25 November 1733;
(7) Penelope Beech (1735-37), baptised at Tideswell, 16 August 1735; died young and was buried at Tideswell, 18 November 1737.
He lived at Tideswell (Derbys).
He was buried at Tideswell where he and his wife are commemorated by a monument. His wife died in 1758 and was buried at Tideswell.

Beech, John (1722-87). Only surviving son of William Beech (b. c.1682) and his wife, baptised at Tideswell, 9 August 1722. Attorney-at-law. He married, 23 February 1749/50 at Wormhill (Derbys), Hannah (c.1727-1813), daughter of Edward Swann (b. 1698) of Fairfield, Hope (Derbys), and had issue:
(1) John Beech (b. 1751), baptised at Tideswell (Derbys), 12 September 1751; 
(2) William Beech (b. 1753), baptised at Tideswell, 5 March 1753;
(3) Anne Beech (b. 1759), baptised at Tideswell, 7 September 1759;
(4) James Beech (1765-1828) (q.v.).
He lived at Tideswell (Derbys) until he inherited a lease of The Shawe from his uncle John Beech in 1763.
He was buried at Kingsley, 20 October 1787; his will was proved at Lichfield, 12 November 1787. His widow was buried at Kingsley, 9 March 1813.

Beech, James (1765-1828). Youngest but probably only surviving son of John Beech (1722-87) and his wife Hannah, daughter of Edward Swann of Fairfield (Derbys), baptised at Kingsley, 13 May 1765. High Sheriff of Staffordshire, 1811-12. He married, 5 September 1799 at Kingsley, Esther (1781-1855), only child of Richard Sutton of Alton (Staffs), and had issue:
(1) Hannah Beech (1800-26), baptised at Kingsley, 18 September 1800; died unmarried and was buried at Kingsley, 16 May 1826;
(2) Charlotte Beech (1802-09), baptised at Kingsley, 25 July 1802; died young and was buried at Kingsley, 24 November 1809;
(3) Eliza Beech (1804-28), baptised at Kingsley, 25 May 1804; died unmarried and was buried at Temple Church, Bristol, 2 July 1828;
(4) Anne Beech (1809-1827), baptised at Kingsley, 2 February 1809; died unmarried, probably of tuberculosis, and was buried at Madeira, 15 March 1827;
(5) James Beech (1812-83) (q.v.).
He inherited a lease of The Shawe from his father in 1787 and purchased the freehold about 1790, after which he built a new house on the estate. His widow lived at Chelsea (Middx).
He died at Clifton, Bristol (Glos), 29 October, and was buried at Kingsley, 8 November 1828; his will was proved in the PCC, 20 February 1829. His widow was buried at Kingsley, 9 August 1855; her will was proved in the PCC, 21 November 1855.

Beech, James (1812-83). Only son of James Beech (1765-1828) and his wife Esther, only child of Richard Sutton of Shawe House (Staffs), born 24 December and baptised at Kingsley, 25 December 1812. Educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford (matriculated 1830; BA 1834). An officer in the Staffordshire Yeomanry Cavalry (Lt., 1833). JP (from 1838) and DL for Warwickshire; High Sheriff of Warwickshire, 1864-65. In the 'railway mania' of the 1840s, he was involved with the promotion of many different railways in the Midlands and South-West. He married, 23 December 1843 at Llandyrnog (Denbighs.), Emily Charlotte (1823-1913), fourth daughter of John Madocks MP (1786-1837), of Glanywern Hall (Denbighs.), and had issue:
(1) Cecil James Beech (1845-50), born 31 May and baptised at Wolston (Warks), 28 June 1845; died young in London, 10 April 1850;
(2) Alice Mary Beech (1850-1926), born 15 July and baptised at St Michael, Chester Sq., Westminster (Middx), 11 August 1850; married, 7 February 1882 at Wolston (Warks), Col. the Hon. George Campbell Napier CIE (1845-1914), second son of Gen. Robert George Cornelis Napier (1810-90), 1st Baron Napier of Magdala, and had issue one son and one daughter; died 23 March 1926; administration of her goods was granted to her daughter, 8 July 1926 (estate £21,450);
(3) Rowland John Beech (1853-1919) (q.v.);
(4) Charles Madocks Beech (1855-87), born 28 May 1855; an officer in the Warwickshire militia (Lt., 1872; Capt., 1877); lived in London; died unmarried at Holme Chase, Weybridge (Surrey), 25 July, and was buried at Kingsley, 29 July 1887; will proved 21 September 1887 (effects £44,165);
(5) Rev. Henry Edward Beech (1856-1906), born 5 November 1856 and baptised at Wolston, 15 January 1857; educated at Pembroke College, Oxford (matriculated 1876; BA; MA 1887); ordained deacon, 1888 and priest, 1889; rector of Kingsley, 1891-1906; a freemason from 1879; lived latterly at Broadlands, Malden (Surrey); married, 18 September 1902 at St Cuthbert, Darlington (Co. Durham), Elizabeth Mary (c.1860-1935), daughter of Sylvanus Biggs, formerly of Lichfield (Staffs); died 3 October 1906; will proved 19 December 1906 (estate £65.112);
(6) Reginald Beech (1862-1904), born 14 March and baptised at Wolston, 23 April 1862; educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1879); an officer in 4th battn, Staffordshire Regiment (2nd Lt., 1880; Lt., 1881; Capt., 1886; retired 1894); married, 18 January 1893 at West Felton (Shrops.), Maude (1865-1923), youngest daughter of Col. Richard Thomas Lloyd of Aston Hall, Oswestry (Shrops.); died at Nordrach (Germany), 8 April, and was buried at Kingsley, 15 April 1904; will proved 24 September 1904 (estate £28,897).
He inherited The Shawe from his father and purchased Brandon Cottage (later Brandon Lodge and then Brandon Hall) in 1837, reputedly at a cost of £70,000. He had a London town house in Grosvenor Place.
He died in London, 25 October and was buried at Kingsley, 30 October 1883; his will was proved 12 December 1883 (effects £227,051). His widow died 19 November, and was buried at Kingsley, 22 November 1913; her will was proved 19 February 1914 (estate £20,206).

Rowland John Beech (1853-1919) 
Beech, Rowland John
Second, but eldest surviving, son of James Beech (1813-83) and his wife Emily Charlotte, fourth daughter of John Madocks MP of Glanywern Hall (Denbighs,), born 15 November and baptised at Wolston (Warks), 10 December 1853. Educated at Christ Church, Oxford (matriculated 1871). 
An officer in the 2nd Life Guards (2nd Lt., 1875; Lt. 1878; retired 1886), who was wounded at the battle of Abu-Klea (Sudan) and later in the Warwickshire Yeomanry Cavalry (Capt.; Hon. Maj., 1892; Maj., 1901; Hon. Lt-Col., 1902 and Lt-Col. commanding, 1906-09). He returned to service at the start of the First World War in 1914, initially training the Warwickshire Yeomanry but from 1916 as commanding officer of 36th Brigade of Royal Field Artillery; he was invalided home in 1918. DL and JP for Warwickshire; High Sheriff of Warwickshire, 1890-91. JP for Staffordshire. He was a freemason from 1874, and was an ardent follower of foxhounds, often hunting five days a week as a young man; he also played polo, shot, and was a keen cricketer who was president of the Brandon & Wolston Cricket Club for many years. He married, 2 December 1885 at St Peter, Eaton Sq., Westminster (Middx), Adelaide Frederica (1859-1924), only daughter of Robert Capel Cure of Blake Hall (Essex), and had issue:
(1) Christabel Emily Sarah Beech (1886-1943), born 10 September and baptised at St Peter, Eaton Sq., Westminster, 1 November 1886; married 1st, 20 June 1911 at St Peter, Eaton Sq., Westminster, Capt. Arthur William Macarthur-Onslow (1877-1914), who was killed in action; married 2nd, 24 June 1916 at Holy Trinity, Chelsea (Middx), Capt. Hugh Evelyn Allen (1880-1933) of Cresselly (Pembs), and had issue one daughter; died 11 February 1943; will proved 1 June 1943 (estate £52,696);
(2) Irene Frederica Beech (1887-1946), born 22 August and baptised at Kingsley, 6 November 1887; lived latterly at Fetcham (Surrey); died 19 June 1946; will proved 21 October 1946 (estate £17,575);
(3) Rowland Auriol James Beech (1888-1915), born 22 August and baptised at Kingsley, 4 October 1888; an officer in the 16th Lancers (2nd Lt., 1908; Lt., 1911) who served in the First World War and was killed in action, 21 February 1915; buried at Ypres Town Cemetery (Belgium); administration of goods granted to his father, 29 June 1915 (estate £13,167);
(4) Douglas Charles Murray Beech (1889-1944) (q.v.).
He inherited Brandon Hall and The Shawe from his father in 1883.
He died 30 August 1919 and was buried at Kingsley, where he is commemorated by a monument; his will was proved 27 November 1919 (estate £206,931). His widow died 8 October 1924; administration of her goods (with will annexed) was granted 10 January 1925 (estate £4,563).

Beech, Douglas Charles Murray (1889-1944). Second, but eldest surviving, son of Rowland John Beech (1853-1919) and his wife Adelaide Frederica, only daughter of Robert Capel Cure of Blake Hall (Essex), born 17 December 1889 and baptised at Kingsley, 16 February 1880. Educated at Eton and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. An officer in the 20th Hussars (2nd Lt., 1909; Lt., 1911; Capt., 1915; Brigade Maj., 1917; retired 1920), awarded the MC, 1919. He served as ADC to the Governor of Newfoundland, 1913. JP for Warwickshire. He married 1st, 6 May 1915 at Holy Trinity, Chelsea (Middx) (div. 1932 on the grounds of his adultery with the lady who became his second wife), Florence Clare (b. 1892), only daughter of Maj. Henry Wilmot Mitchell of Ballynure (Co. Wicklow); 2nd, 10 February 1932, Frances Caroline Joan (1895-1933), Viscountess Glenapp, daughter of the Rt. Hon. John Francis Moriarty, Lord Justice of Appeal in Ireland, and formerly wife of Kenneth Mackay (1887-1939), Viscount Glenapp (later 2nd Earl of Inchcape); and 3rd, 14 June 1934, Helen Stuart Daubuz (1901-64), third daughter of the Hon. Osmond William Toone Westenra Hastings, and had issue:
(1.1) Rowland James Beech (1921-72) (q.v.).
He inherited The Shawe and Brandon Hall from his father in 1919, but at once sold the former. He lived at Brandon Hall.
He died 14 June 1944; his will was proved 19 January 1945 (estate £42,853). His first wife's date of death is unknown. His second wife died 13 February 1933; her will was proved 18 May 1933 (estate £3,464). His widow died 18 December 1964; her will was proved 22 April 1965 (estate £12,552).

Beech, Rowland James (1921-72). Only child of Douglas Charles Murray Beech (1889-1944) and his first wife, Florence Clare, only daughter of Maj. Henry Wilmot Mitchell of Ballynure (Co. Wicklow), born 14 February 1921. An officer in the 12th Royal Lancers (2nd Lt., 1941; Lt., 1945; Capt., 1948) and later in the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars (Maj.; retired 1967), who served in the Second World War and was awarded the MC, 1943. He married, 9 July 1955 at St Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore, Geraldine Inez Antoinette (1930-2009), daughter of Maj. Frank Harding, and had issue:
(1) Nicola Antoinette Beech (b. 1960), born October 1960; married, 1989, John D. Faulkner (b. 1959), son of David James Faulkner of Longworth (Berks), and had issue one son and two daughters;
(2) Penelope C. Beech (b. 1963).
He inherited Brandon Hall from his father in 1944, but sold it in 1946. He lived subsequently in a cottage on the estate and later at Ewen (Glos).
He died 20 January 1972 and was probably buried at Kingsley (Staffs), where he is commemorated by a monument; his will was proved 11 May 1972 (estate £17,689) and 14 March 1975. His widow married 2nd, 9 April 1983, as his second wife, Capt. North Edward Frederick Dalrymple-Hamilton CVO MBE DSC (1922-2014) and died 4 March 2009; she was buried at Wonston (Warks) and her will was proved 2 July 2009.

Principal sources

Burke's Landed Gentry, 1952, p. 146; Sir H.M. Colvin, A biographical dictionary of British architects, 1600-1840, 4th edn., 2008, pp. 661-63; C. Walton & L. Porter, Lost houses of north Staffordshire, 2010, p. 126; R. Yallop, 'The enigma of Robert Lugar', Georgian Group Journal, 2014, pp. 149-66;

Location of archives

Beech of Brandon Hall: estate and family papers, chiefly relating to Warwickshire property, 1829-1975 [Staffordshire Archives Service D6920/3/1].

Coat of arms

Argent, gutté de poix, on a bend nebuly gules, a beech tree eradicated proper, between two stag's heads cabossed or.

Can you help?

  • If anyone knows of additional views of The Shawe, I should be interested to see them, especially any interior pictures. I would also be interested to learn about the post-1920 ownership of the house.
  • The genealogical information for the earlier generations of this family is particularly sketchy, and I should be most grateful to anyone who can fill in some of the gaps.
  • Can anyone provide portraits of the people whose names appear in bold above, for whom no image is currently shown?
  • If anyone can offer further information or corrections to any part of this article I should be most grateful. I am always particularly pleased to hear from current owners or the descendants of families associated with a property who can supply information from their own research or personal knowledge for inclusion.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 4 December 2022.


  1. Have you investigated any links to slavery? Quite a lucrative “investment” back on the day...

    1. Yes, and one from which many families benefited; but I can find no evidence that the Beeches had any connections with that world. I think they must just have been astute businessmen who made more than most from the law, coal and the railways.


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.