From forest to moated manor, building Baddesley

This section of the page features an image gallery, so if you're using a screen reader you may wish to jump to the main content.

The house and estate at Baddesley are an incredible survival story. It was the home of the same family, the Ferrers, for 500 years. And, despite being short of money, it passed from father to son for 12 generations.

The family remained loyal to their Catholic faith through difficult times, risking their lives giving refuge to Catholic priests.

When the house was offered for sale in 1940, the estate covered the same area as it had in 1699.

Baeddi de Clinton

When the house was first built in the early 1400s, it was surrounded by the Forest of Arden. It got its name from a Saxon, called Baeddi, who first cleared the site in the forest, and the de Clinton family who dug the moat in the 13th century.

From the Bromes to the Ferrers

In 1438 the site was bought by a lawyer, John Brome, who built some of the house from Arden sandstone quarried on the site.

Through his grand-daughter, the house passed to the Ferrers family. It was Edward Ferrers who built much of what we see today, from 1526 onwards.

Henry Ferrers the Antiquary, who lived at Baddesley from 1564 to 1633, built much of the garden range and the great hall. He also added many of the coats of arms to the house – in carved wood and stained glass.

In 1590 he rented the house to two Catholic sisters, and it was then that it became a hiding place for Jesuit priests. Its three priest holes date from this time.

The Quartet

But by the end of the 17th century the estate was in decline. It wasn’t until the second half of the 19th century, when Marmion Ferrers was in residence, that its fortunes picked up again.

Marmion married Rebecca Orpen in 1867, and two years later they were joined at Baddesley by her aunt, Lady Georgiana Chatterton, and her second husband, Edward Dering.

The four friends became known as the Quartet and they devoted their time to restoring the house, painting, writing and to religion.

The National Trust

In 1940 the house was put up for sale, and bought by a distant cousin, Thomas Walker.

He and his wife, Undine, restored the house with the intention of passing it onto us. It was their son, Thomas Ferrers-Walker, who finally raised the funds to do this.

The house was opened to the public in April 1982.