Monday, July 28, 2008

The Old House

I've always been fascinated by this house. It is called Doveleys Manor and stands just off the main road from Rocester to Ashbourne. We have visited Doveleys Garden Centre quite a few times and peered at the house and wondered about it.

Yesterday we dropped in after our walk around the lake at the JCB Factory and saw a notice that I'm sure I hadn't seen before inviting people to walk around the grounds. Well, we didn't have to be invited twice so off we went through the grounds to the woodland walk.

The house is empty at the moment but it isn't by any means derelict. It looks as if some work has been going on on one side, the other side is still in need of attention and there were plenty of house martins dipping and swooping and popping to their nests under the eaves.

The house was built in 1831 and added to in later years hence the date above of 1875. From the White's Directory of Staffordshire of 1851 I found that the house was the seat of T P Heywood, esq and that it was known as Dove Leys. I assumed that T P Heywood is the TPH of the initials in the second photo, that M H was probably his wife and that they were responsible for the later additions to the house. In order to verify this I looked at the Census returns for 1871 and found living at Doveleys Thomas Heywood and his wife Margaret, 4 daughters, 2 sons and a family friend. There were 10 servants including a valet, a general servant, a laundry woman, a cook, a scullery maid, 2 nurses and 2 housemaids. At the back of the house lived a butler and his wife their three sons and two lodgers who were the coachman and his wife. It was a large household; no wonder the Heywoods made extensions to the house.

The morning was warm and sunny and the short walk through the cool woods took us close by the River Dove which was flowing quite rapidly through the fields at the side of the house and garden centre on its way down through Rocester and past the old cotton factory there. When we got back lots of people had arrived and were setting up umbrellas and small gazebos on the lawn in the coach turning circle at the front of the house. As there were huge bowls of water, plenty of shade and lots of beautiful dogs around we asumed that a dog show would be taking place at some point in the afternoon.

I thought you would like to see a photo of the sculpture in the lake at JCB, if you look closely you can see a heron perched on the gull on the left and a black swan underneath the one on the right. There are many water birds here, including the black swans, herons, egyptian geese, barnack and barnacle geese. We also spotted a runner duck. It is a popular place for both locals and visitors to stop and take a walk and for children to feed the ducks.


  1. This was a wonderful informative piece Rosie. Wouldn't it be great if you could go back in time and see the house full of its occupants going about their daily business? I wonder who the family friend was? I may have to get my husband to carve out out initials above the porch of our house! I can see that the sculptures are huge when compared against the heron and the swan. Thanks for coming over to Linden Grove too!

  2. Wow what a fabulous house! I love looking at things like that, finding out who lived there and what they did.
    Love the sculpture too.
    Rosie x

  3. What a magnificent house and very interesting history! So strange to think of people living in mansions with all those servants not all that long ago...and different era, for sure! Wonderful!

  4. It's a fabulous house.It makes you wonder about the history of it.
    I'd love to know more ;-)

  5. It is a wonderful house. I really enjoy architecture and have gone on a few historic home tours which were so enjoyable. Like Simone, I wonder about the people that once lived there and what their life was like? Great post!


  6. What a wonderful visual treat this was! Gorgeous house! Thank you!

  7. What a great post..i enjoyed it very much.Maybe there are old postcards or photographs to be found from this house and the people who lived in it..?

  8. Thanks for this! We happened to be passing today, and my husband pulled in because of the garden centre (as he thought I might want to have a look) - and we saw the old house and found it really fascinating! Your post was written three years ago now, but the house is still empty. A sign on it said renovations were in progress, but it looks pretty dead to me. Which is a shame, because it's a beautiful piece of architecture! Thanks for posting some info about it - really curious to know more. :)

  9. hya all can anyone tell me if they have had strange encounters whilst walking round this magnificant house

    its a strange questions but i got one when me and my husband was walking round and dont know if anyone else as i will share encounter if others come up same or similar xxxx