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Wychnor Hall

Wychnor Park
Wychnor Park
Wychnor Hall
General information
Town or city Staffordshire
Country England, United Kingdom
Coordinates

52°44′53″N 1°45′38″W / 52.74806°N 1.76056°W / 52.74806; -1.76056

Client The Levett Family

Wychnor Hall (or Wychnor Park) is Grade II Listed early 18th-century country house near Burton on Trent, Staffordshire. The Hall was formerly owned by the Levett Family, descendants of Theophilus Levett, who was Steward of the city of Lichfield in the early eighteenth century.

The hall has been converted to a Country Club.


History

Wychnor takes its name from the Old English meaning 'village on a bank.'

King James I reportedly stayed at the hall in 1621 and 1624.[1]

The present hall dates from the time of Queen Anne but was much altered and extended in the mid 19th century.[2]


There are a number of curious customs associated with Wychnor, at least one of which was said to have begun with Sir Philip de Somerville, who owned the manor of Wychnor in 1338. A flitch of bacon was kept in the hall (later replaced by a wooden effigy of same).[3] That flitch of bacon could be claimed by anyone who had been married for one year and did not repent of their choice.[4]


The Levett Family

The house was for many years the home of the Levett family (relations of Levett of Milford Hall).[5][6] The family came from Sussex, arriving in Staffordshire from Cheshire in the early eighteenth century. Through intermarriage with the Floyer family of Hints, Staffordshire, the Levetts of Wychnor claim descent from King Edward III of England through his son Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence.


The family's wealth largely derived from ownership of coal mines in Staffordshire and Derbyshire, as well as large landholdings and investments in the early Industrial Revolution enterprises associated with inventor Matthew Boulton.[7]

The Levetts also held land at Edial and Curborough (inherited from their Babington ancestors) and elsewhere in Staffordshire.[8][9]


Theophilus Levett was Steward (Town Clerk) of the City of Lichfield 1721–46, and his grandson and namesake was Recorder of Lichfield and High Sheriff of Staffordshire in 1809. Theophilus was named for Theophilus Hastings, 7th Earl of Huntingdon, whose wife the Countess of Huntingdon was Levett's godmother. Theophilus Levett died in 1839. His friend General William Dyott, Aide-de-camp to King George III, attended Levett's simple funeral at Wychnor and noted that Levett "has left great riches to his younger children with the exception of his son Arthur, to whom he has bequeathed £4,000."

Theophilus Levett's son John Levett (landowner, investor and sometime member of the Lunar Society), was Member of Parliament for Lichfield. John Levett was also a friend of long standing to Matthew Boulton, the early inventor, as well as an early investor in Boulton's Soho Manufactory.[10]

Another John Levett was High Sheriff of Staffordshire in 1846.[11]

Theophilus John Levett, grandson of the first Theophilus, was M.P. for Lichfield from 1880 to 1885.


The family had a long association with Samuel Johnson, whom the first Theophilus Levett counted among his friends, and to whom he loaned money, including assuming the mortgage on Johnson's mother's Lichfield home on 31 January 1739, for £80.[12] Johnson frequently wrote to Levett, and later to Levett's son John, pleading for extensions for his late payments.[13] Levett later carried the mortgage as well as other loans to Johnson, who eventually paid them off in 1757.[14]

Theophilus Levett also had a long friendship with David Garrick, an English actor, playwright and friend of Samuel Johnson's, who was also raised in Lichfield.

Many members of the Levett family of Wychnor Hall were Oxford graduates.[15]

Members of the Levett family of Wychnor have intermarried into other county families over the centuries, carrying the name into other family lines.[16][17] The Levett-Prinseps, for instance, descendants of the Levetts of Wychnor, formerly owned Croxall Hall in Derbyshire. The Latin motto on the coat of arms of the Levett-Prinsep family was Non Prodigus Neque Avarus: Neither prodigal nor mean.[18]


The Levetts also had homes in Lichfield as well and several streets in the city are named for them today.[19]


References

External links

  • Images of England: Wychnor Hall
  • Burkes Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, Part 2 (1863) p. 869.
  • Levett Family Papers. Staffordshire Archive Service, Lichfield Record Office
  • , Alfred Williams, 1899 Wichnor Park
  • John Levett, Wychnor Park, The Scots Peerage, James Balfour Paul, Edinburgh, 1905

Further reading

  • The Lunar Men: Five Friends Whose Curiosity Changed the World, Jenny Uglow, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York, 2002 (see John Levett, MP)

Coordinates: 52°44′54″N 1°45′39″W / 52.7482°N 1.7607°W / 52.7482; -1.7607

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