Hawk WalkTue 3 Mar
A manor at Witley is owned by Urso d'Abetot, a cousin of William the Conqueror.
The medieval house is rebuilt on a grander scale by the Russell family.
Find out more about Witley Court's history
1655The Foley Family
Thomas Foley, whose family fortunes come from the iron industry, buys Witley.
The 1st Baron Foley enlarges the house, to reflect his enhanced social status and his family’s transition from industrial wealth to landed aristocracy.
Thomas Foley VII hires the architect John Nash to design ambitious alterations, including massive new stone porticos and a rebuilt east wing.
1837William, Lord Ward
The Witley estate is sold for £900,000 (about £48 million today) to the trustees of 16-year-old William, Lord Ward, heir to vast industrial riches.
Witley is let to Queen Adelaide, widow of William IV. She is popular locally and pays for the building of the first village school.
Lord Ward moves in, and begins a major transformation of Witley Court to designs by architect Samuel Daukes and garden designer William Andrews Nesfield. Ward is made 1st Earl of Dudley in 1860.
Under the 2nd Earl of Dudley life at Witley reachs a height of opulence, with his friend the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) a regular visitor at lavish parties.
1920End of an Era
After his first wife’s death, the 2nd Earl, beset with mounting debts, sells the Witley estate to the carpet manufacturer Sir Herbert Smith.
7 September 1937Fire
Witley’s role as a rich man’s house ends abruptly when a devastating fire destroys much of the house. It is never lived in again.
1954Stripped for Parts
An antique dealer buys the house, stripping it of anything of value that remains.
The house is scheduled as an Ancient Monument, and restoration work begins, continued since 1984 by English Heritage.
Learn more about Witley Court