Knight of Barrells
Copy preliminary report of Mr. Bircham to the Trustees in the form of a letter addressed to John Bullar and W.F. Beadon esquires. Early in April he had engaged Mr. John Bailey Denton, with his partner Mr. Drake, to make a survey and valuation of the whole property. He accompanied Messrs. Denton and Drake to Henley on April 12th and they surveyed the property on April 13th and 14th. They also had assistance from Mr. Cooper, agent of the late Mr. Knight. Messrs. Denton Co. would shortly submit a general plan. The writer submitted a terrier. Including Barrels House and Park the property in Warwickshire and Worcestershire comprised about 3020 acres, the woodland being principally in hand and the arable, pasture and meadow let in 17 holdings or farms. The whole of the farms and woodlands lie together in Wootton Wawen (including Ullenhall, Aspley and Henley), Studley and Beaudesert in Warwickshire and Oldberrow in Worcestershire. The tenants are held under written agreements from year to year. Gross rental for 1854, £3,756.13s.0d. Smaller holdings and cottages produced in gross £45 and tithe rent-charge in Ullenhall £59.14s.3d. The mansion house appeared to have been largely built by the late Robert Knight in completion of a design by the late Earl Catherlough. The part built by the latter was then occupied as the village school room and as the residence of a labourer employed on the estate. The part built by Robert Knight had been uninhabited for 30 years and was in a lamentable state of dilapidation. The site of the stabling was pointed out to them but this had all been pulled down. The walled garden was in complete decay and only traces of the glasshouses remained. Little remained of the approach road from Henley and avenue of elms and nothing of the entrance lodge. These elms may however have decayed through natural causes. Towards Ullenhall Robert Knight had made a new approach road across the park with a lodge on each side of it. The road remained but the lodges had disappeared. The mausoleum mentioned in Lord Catherlough's will had fallen out of repair and had been ransacked by thieves, and Robert Knight had removed its contents to Ullenhall chapel and pulled down the mausoleum altogether. The writer would take counsel's opinion of the question of waste. The farm buildings were for the most part in miserable condition, due no doubt to the system of letting from year to year, while exacting the utmost rent and doing the least possible repairs. Apart from the timber in Barrels Park there was no timber worth speaking of, fit to cut for repairs or sale. Robert Knight had pulled down farm buildings and cottages, but no doubt with the intention of improvement at the time. Besides the Warwickshire and Worcestershire estates, the settled estates under the will of Lord Catherlough included the fee simple of tithe commutation rentcharges payable in the parish of Mold, Flintshire. According to Mr. Cooper's report, these produced gross in 1854, £1,538.18s.5d. payable by about 500 different landowners, and rates and expenses of collection in that year amounted to £330.2s.4d. leaving a nett sum of £1,208.16s.1d. Lord Catherlough's will being dated 17 February 1772 and codicil 24 February 1772, and probate being granted 10 April 1772, it was improbable that anything devised by the will should have been disposed of in the interval, but the will devised manors, lands c. not only in cos. Warwick, Worcester and Flint but also in cos. Lincoln, Middlesex, Salop and Chester. So far no trace had been found of any lands in Lincolnshire or Salop. In Middlesex Lord Catherlough had a house in Golden Square which was sold under the powers of the Act of 1808. As regards the Cheshire property, an explanation was forthcoming which would also apply to the `heirlooms' and the Flintshire tithes. At the time of his death Lord Catherlough had no real estate in these two counties except an estate at Tarvin co. Chester and at Llwynegrin and the rectorial tithes of Mold co. Flint which he held for the remainder of a foreclosed mortgage term of 1,000 years. There were Chancery proceedings about this property and about the heirlooms in a suit instituted by the late Robert Knight in 1803 against his brother and his own then surviving children (the present Miss Knight and Mrs. King) for the purpose of obtaining a declaration that, as administrator and sole legal personal representative of his infant son then lately dead, he was absolutely entitled to the mortgage term and the heirlooms - see Decree made 26 January 1806. Having obtained this declaration, Robert Knight would be able to dispose of the property in question. Portions of the estates in cos. Warwick and Worcester were sold under the Act of 1808. The Montgomeryshire estates were sold in the same way. The estates settled to the uses of Lord Catherlough's will could be classed as follows: (1) those being his Lordship's property at the time of his death; (2) those purchased with the produce of his real and personal residuary estate; and (3) those purchased with the produce of sales under the Act of 1808. The greatest portion of the then estate would be found in class 3. The Act of 1808 was passed on the suggestion that the Earl's will contained no powers of sale, and that the estates in other parts of Warwickshire were not convenient to hold with the family mansion of Barrels. The writer had obtained a copy of the Act account from the Court of Chancery and found that every penny paid in from sales had been paid out again for new purchases. The principal purchasers had been Robert Knight himself and his son-in-law Bolton King, so that some of the sales and purchases had been virtually exchanges. The writer had sent copies of this preliminary report to Mr. Whitaker and Mr. Parke. Signed by Francis T. Bircham.