The Eighteenth Century
The start of the eighteenth century saw Baddesley Clinton in a sad state of disrepair. The ravages of the Civil War and a series of law suits had left the family in a poor state financially. However, fortunes looked up for a while and quite a lot of building took place leaving the house looking much as we see it today.
Edward Ferrers (1678-1729), who inherited in 1712, made a financially advantageous marriage allowing him to invest money in an estate which had fallen into disrepair. He replaced the drawbridge with the current stone bridge and, following a serious fire in 1722 cleared away the old farm buildings from the front of the house and replaced them with the barn yard, entrance court and walled garden which we see today. He also added the brick facing to the south range which overlooks the new walled garden. He spent a total of £308 1s 2d on these works.
Thomas Ferrers (1713-60) moved the magnificent fireplace which Henry the Antiquary had installed in the Great Parlour into the Great Hall. He also probably demolished the medieval north range and installed a false ceiling in the Great Hall. (A fire in 1940 made it necessary to remove this ceiling and the original beams were exposed. The finials at the top of the fireplace could then be reattached. Rebecca Deering’s painting of The Quartet in the Great Hall clearly shows a plain ceiling with the fireplace joining up with it and lacking the finials we see today.)
Under Thomas’s heir Edward (1740-94) it appears that there was little need, or money, to do much more building work on the house, though it is possible that Edward constructed the present Drawing Roon and the rooms above it which are currently the National Trust’s offices.
Edward is chiefly remembered for a quarrel with a priest. The story goes that the priest, who was to bless the food, was outraged that meat was being served on a Friday. There was a scuffle in which the priest attacked Henry with the joint! Henry was so enraged that he threw the “Holy Trumpery” and saintly images into the moat and banished the priest from the house – shades of Nicholas Brome, perhaps.
His will left most of his money and property to his son, another Edward but also makes provision for property to be disposed of to repay his debts, though we do not know the sum involved.
His son Edward (1765-95) inherited Baddesley on his father’s death in 1794, but tragically only held it for a year, dying in 1795 aged only 30.
Edward was described as being “handsome, elegant, weak and profligate”, by which we can surmise that he racked up even more debts and so his death, coming so soon after his father’s would have caused his family great problems, as well as grief. Indeed, much of the estate was put on the market in 1799.
His son, yet another Edward (1790-1830), was only 5 when he inherited Baddesley, and so could not take control until he was 21. The estate was still having to pay out on the wills of both his father and his grandfather as well as marriage settlements for many younger children.
The period was an interesting one for Roman Catholics in England. A series of reforms and legislation meant that Catholics could now play a bigger part in society and no longer had to hide their faith and practices. Edward was able to attend Oscott College in Sutton Coldfield which was a Catholic institution founded in 1794. He was also able to serve in the Warwickshire Militia, rising to the rank of Major. Following the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, he was made one of only two Catholic JPs.
Although he managed to pay the debts arising from the wills of his father and grandfather, it appears he simply had a lot of financial bad luck and was technically insolvent at this death in 1830. There is no will, so it seems that his death was unexpected; he owed Dr Palmer £20 for his services.