Local History - Holly Mount mansion and families that lived there
This is a story about a long gone Victorian mansion named Holly Mount in Great Malvern in the county of Worcestershire, England, and some of the families that lived there.
Princess Victoria stayed at Holly Mount when she visited Malvern in 1830, and the Royal Collection lists a lithograph said to be after the style of watercolourist John Bradley (1786 - 1843) titled 'Holly Mount, Malvern, Residence of Duchess of Kent, dated 1831'. This is described as a view of a fine house, 3 floors high, with double round bays, balcony on top floor with ironwork casting. Walled garden to right, lawn in foreground. Victoria on pony, Duchess of Kent and a man walking behind, another lady on steps. This is almost certainly the image shown below.
The description of the house is similar to that of Rose Bank (demolished about 1959) which once stood in Rose Bank Gardens to the south of Belle Vue Terrace; a photograph of Rose Bank can be found in Brian Iles' book 'Malvern Through Time'.
At first we had wondered if Holly Mount mansion had been demolished in order to build in 1876 the Congregational Church, which stands next to Brays' Outfitters above the Worcester Road. However, it seems that assumption was wrong as an Ordnance Survey map of 1926 shows that Holly Mount Mansion was then still in existence and stood several hundred yards to the north of the church and Brays (see map above). The house stood in large grounds, well separated from other buildings, so would have been a good choice for the royal party in 1830.
Lithographic print of Holly Mount
Malvern Museum holds a glass slide of a lithographic print of Holly Mount attributed to the artist John Bradley. A copy of the slide, very kindly provided by the Curator of Malvern Museum is shown below, to which we have added a slight tint.
Holly Mount by J Bradley circa 1831 (source: Malvern Museum)
A transcription of the fuzzy legend below the image reads:
You may wonder why the picture was drawn on stone - the early lithographic process used to make multiple copies involved drawing, using oil or wax, on a limestone tablet, etching the uprotected surface with acid, and then inking the tablet in order to print on paper for either books or to make framed prints.
Charles Joseph Hullmandel (1789 - 1850) was a well known publisher of lithographic works in Victorian times.
Bradley made other lithographic prints locally including 'The Victoria Drive, Malvern'.
The history of Holly Mount
An early reference to the house can be found inscribed on a monument to Thomas Woodyatt RN in Great Malvern Priory. Thomas was the son of Dr George Woodyatt MD (1764 - 1824), Senior Physician at Worcester Infirmary who had married Hannah Freeman, and whose ancestors farmed at Cradley.
The Woodyatt family seems to have been well connected. For example, Thomas's brother Rev Edward Woodyatt (1797 - 1886) married Louisa Georgiana Maria Gresley, daughter of colliery owner Sir Nigel Bowyer Gresley, by his second wife.
Thomas had married another wealthy lady, Harriet Beresford of Copton Hall Ledbury in 1818, and their marriage settlement makes reference to one of them owning the Holly Mount Estate in Great Malvern. A trade directory of 1828 records Thomas living at Holly Mount Cottage on the edge of St Ann's Road so it's possible that Holly Mount mansion was built for the couple about that time, though possibly it was built earlier and the couple had for example either moved out while the property was being extended or in anticipation of the visit of Princess Victoria.
Lt Thomas Woodyatt RN died on 6th June 1841 in his fiftieth year and is buried in the Priory churchyard. Harriet Woodyatt continued to live at the house until her death on 31st January 1863.
The Holly Mount Estate, Great Malvern, was offered for sale in 1863 by auctioneers Messrs Beadel & Co, of which William James Beadel was one of the partners. A map showing the considerable extent of the estate is shown below (click to enlarge).
Holly Mount estate 1863 - source: Malvern Museum
Some of the people who subsequently lived at the house can be found listed in trade directories and the census (see below). Sources suggest that the house was destroyed in a fire, possibly in the 1930s, and was demolished leaving the site empty for many years. If so there may be mention of this in the archives of the Malvern Gazette - do let us know if you come across a reference to the house.
Residents of Holly Mount mansion
So who was in residence after Harriet Woodyatt's death in 1863?
Kelly's Trade Directory of 1870 records Miss Caroline Cooper having a ladies' school at Holly Mount. Earlier her school had been at Elmsdale in Abbey Road, and by 1871 the school had returned to Abbey Road, occupying Malvernbury. Perhaps Holly Mount or its location had proved unsuitable as a girls' boarding school.
Trade directories of 1872 and 1873 record Henry Wilson, BA (classics) Cambridge having a boarding school for young gentlemen at Holly Mount. This is confirmed by the 1871 census which lists:
Henry Wilson born 1832, his wife Sarah and son Henry Inchcape; an assistant master, nurse, cook, two house-maids, kitchen-maid and page; and seventeen pupils aged between 9 and 16 years.
By 1881 Henry Wilson had moved on to the larger 'Link School' based in the prestigeous hotel next to Malvern Link railway station.
In 1872 Thomas Cox, possibly a retired draper, and his family lived nearby at Holly Mount Cottage.
Kelly's trade directory of 1876 lists George William Ewing in residence. Later in 1881 he is recorded as a retired Broker, born Liverpool about 1799, living at Pembridge Villa in Graham Road.
The 1881 census records painter David Bates living with his family nearby at Holly Mount Cottage; he is described as an artist, landscape in oil colour, born March, Cambridgeshire about 1842. This may be the David Bates (1840 - 1921) who is listed in the Dictionary of Victorian Painters thus:
Kelly's directory of 1884 also lists him as an artist of Holly Mount Cottage, St Ann's Road. David Bates moves around a lot, and by 1911 he is a Painter and Artist working on his own account at home, living at Blandford House Teddington; his son David Samuel Bates then aged 34 is an Art Agent. Click to see some of his paintings on the Art UK website
Meanwhile by 1880, Stephen Robinson JP, Deputy Lieutenant for Herefordshire, born Skipton about 1830, had taken up residence at Holly Mount Mansion. He was a farmer who, when the railway passed through his land, invested in railway shares and through doing so made his fortune. He died at Bournemouth in 1916. The full story of Stephen Robinson of Lynhales can be found on the Lyonshall history website.
Kelly's directory of 1896 recorded Mrs (Hannah Sophia) Rathbone in residence. Her husband, William Benson Rathbone born at Liverpool in 1826, had died at Holly Mount on 26th October 1892. In 1881 he had been a Cotton Broker living in Liverpool, so they probably retired to Great Malvern; Hannah died at Liverpool in 1914.
Kelly's directories of 1900 and 1902 recorded in residence Thomas Arthur Carless Attwood who was born at Sion Hill House, Wolverley, Worcestershire on 27th May 1863. He was the grandson of Thomas Aurelius Attwood MP (1783 - 1856) who had died at Dr Edward Johnson's water cure establishment at Ellerslie in Abbey Road, Great Malvern in 1856. Thomas Arthur Carless Attwood, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, had married the Honourable Hilda Evelyn Pomeroy, daughter of James Spencer Pomeroy, 6th Viscount Harberton and Florence Wallace Legge at Kensington in 1892. Arthur and Hilda's marriage was annulled in 1902, and the 1911 census records him back at Sion Hill House mansion, which was once the family seat of the Baskerville family. In 1911 Hilda was still living in Malvern at Eaton Lodge, Malvern Wells, employing a cook and a housemaid. Hilda died at Minehead in 1948 and one of her executors was Air Vice Marshal Sir Philip Woolcott Game.
The Curator at Malvern Museum told us that Hilda's mother Lady Florence Harberton, who was eccentric, self-confident, dedicated, and rich, campaigned for it to be acceptable for women to wear more practical clothing, eg for cycling, and that she was one of the founders of the Rational Dress Society of which she was president in 1883.
Apparently Viscount and Lady Harberton visited Malvern most summers latterly staying at Oriel House in Tibberton Road a short walk from Holly Mount. This should not be confused with another house named Oriel Villa opposite Holly Mount which was next door to Montreal House where Charles Darwin's daughter died in 1851. In 1902 Viscount Harberton had been listed as a JP for Herefordshire perhaps partly explaining his visits. In 1841 James Harberton had first visited Malvern, aged 4 years, with his parents, staying at Cotswold House on the Worcester Road - now known as Abberley, where the Water Cure Dr James Loftus Marsden lodged when he first came to Great Malvern.
Abberley House formerly Cotswold House
Florence must have been a Suffragette for in 1911 she wrote on her census form:-
Viscountess the Right Honourable Florence Wallace Harberton died a few days later at London on 30th April 1911. The Probate Calendar records that her husband Viscount James Spencer Pomeroy Haberton, of Elm Bank Malvern, died the next year on 4th December 1912; his ashes are buried in a family vault in Brookwood Cemetery. Elm Bank, a relatively small house on the Worcester Road, still stands and is three doors north of Oriel Villa, opposite the Holly Mount Estate (see photo below).
The 1911 census next records retired brewer Herbert Hall Woodbridge in residence at Holly Mount with his wife Julia and four servants. He was earlier a partner in the Yorkshire Stingo Brewery at Marylebone London, trading as Woodbridge and Co. They had no children.
Herbert Hall Woodbridge of Holly Mount, Great Malvern, died at Browns Hotel London in 1921. Many famous people have stayed at Browns and some say Agatha Christie based her book 'At Bertram's Hotel' on it.
Julia Woodbridge died at Holly Mount three years later on 24th December 1924, and the mansion was put up for sale in 1925.
After WWI few people could afford the expense of running a large house and so perhaps Holly Mount was bought by a developer, who left it empty until it was eventually destroyed in a fire.
A large yellow brick built house, named Holly Mount, probably erected about 1994, now stands in the grounds, some yards south of the old mansion; perhaps in memory of the original building it is of stylish design and includes a bowed facade. Access is from Queens Road next to Holly Mount URC church. On the north side of this, with access from the Worcester Road, is a pre-war 4 bedroom house named Silver Hill which was also built in the grounds of Holly Mount mansion in the 1930s. Both properties probably have splendid views across the Severn Valley like the original mansion
Beyond, on the hillside just above 'Hill House', can be glimpsed the mast of the TV transmitter, which was originally built to serve the Worcester area.
The image below is a modern panorama of the Worcester Road viewed from Guarlford illustrating the position of Holly Mount relative to other buildings - click image to enlarge.
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Last updated 8th April 2016