Subsequent Ownerships

Theodosia Hinckes died in 1874 at the age of 82 whilst resident in her younger sister’s home in the Close at Lichfield. In her will dated 23rd. October 1872, she stipulated :- ‘The Mansion House at Tettenhall with grounds farms and estates in the counties of Stafford; Salop and Hereford are given over to the life use of the Venerable Henry Moore Archdeacon of Stafford and his wife Harriet Rebecca Moore’ This suggests her sister had no children to benefit from the legacy. The will then added:- ‘ Then to George Horatio Davenport of Foxley and thereafter to Harry Tichbourne Davenport and sons.’ The Davenports were distant cousins whose father John had bought a large estate at Foxley, near to Hereford; having moved there in 1856 from Westwood Hall at Leek, where he had been involved in the pottery industry.

Rebecca died in 1883, two years after her husband, but Horatio Davenport seems to have inherited ‘Foxley so the younger brother Harry Titchbourne. Davenport took up residence at the Wood House when he was 50 years old. The legacy had a sting in the tail for the Davenports because it was conditional on them changing their surname form Davenport to Hinckes and quartering their heraldic arms with the Hinckes within 15 months of inheriting the estate: surprisingly it didn’t even permit hyphenating the names so suggested a modicum of arrogance on Theodosia’s part. Her brother having died young she was obviously intent on preserving the family name in Tettenhall and at the Wood House in particular: she gives the impression of having been a formidable lady!

Harry Devenport (Hinckes) occupied the house from 1883 until his death in 1895 but he was obviously resistant to changing his well-known family name, especially as he was a barrister in the Inner Temple and very active politically, being MP for North Staffordshire and then Leek. He eventually conceded and in 1890, towards the end of his political career, adopted the name Hinckes. Both names are commemorated in road names in the area.

His nephew Ralph Tichbourne Davenport inherited and changed his name to Hinckes in 1895 before selling the house to Samuel Bayliss, chairman of Bayliss Jones and Bayliss, the Wolverhampton iron working company. He and his wife Emma raised eight children in the house including Edwin Butler Bayliss the eldest, who became a well-known local professional artist initially working from a studio in the house.

In turn the house was sold in1912 to Victor Emanuel Hickman, iron master, for £21,200: Victor died in 1935 but his widow Ethel Margaret continued living there with one of her daughters. In 1953 and 1955 she sold four fifths of the estate to Tettenhall Urban District Council for housing development (the Woodhouse Road and Cornwall Road Estates). Because her children, including her resident daughter, did not wish to live in the house after her death, the final 17.45 acres of the estate including the house, was sold to Tarmac Construction Ltd. In 1964 for £85,000: through the agency of her nephew, who was a director of the company. Tarmac then leased the house back to her with the agreement that they would not demolish it and develop the land until six months after her death – she kept them waiting, dying in 1969 at the age of 103!

The house prior to demolition with auction lot no’s painted on the windows.

The building could have been saved and used for another purpose, a procedure adopted for several other existing large houses in Wolverhampton when their estate land was developed Unfortunately Tarmac were not noted for putting historical appreciation before financial gain, so their main concern here was not architectural preservation but maximising the number of houses they could build on the site: a humiliating end for Theodosia’s Gothic masterpiece. Again, in the words of John Raven: ‘Its demolition was a tragedy of classic proportions’

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