Members of the History Group are researching the history of Ulverscroft Manor, now home to the Shuttlewood Clarke Foundation. Here is a summary of the findings so far (November 2015).
Early ownership of the Manor In 1796 Ulverscroft Manor – a Manor in the medieval sense – was owned in four parts:
Pilgrim and Lovell. The SW corner, bounded on the NE side by what is now Lea Lane, on part of the NW by Priory Lane and part of the edge of Ulverscroft Wood. On the SW approximately across a line that is the modern A50 and on the SE the boundary runs from the A50 to Lea Wood. The area includes what are now Chitterman Hill Farm, Ulverscroft Manor and Home Farm.
W.P.Bosville (Lord of the Manor – absent) who owned all the rest, more than half including the Priory, Stoneywell, Poultney and the part of Ulverscroft in Copt Oak. The precise boundaries of Roby and Aspingham land are unclear, but between them they owned the SE part of Ulverscroft including Ulverscroft Mill and John Lea Wood.
The Pares family and the building of the Manor Ulverscroft Manor was built for Thomas Pares 3 (1790-1866), but it still has not been possible to pinpoint the exact date it was built or who built it. Extensive research of family handwritten letters deposited with Derbyshire Records Office in Matlock reveals that a letter to his sister Agnes shows that Thomas and his family lived there in 1836. Thomas married Octavia Mackmurdo (1800-1881) and they had seven children, some of whom were born at “The Cottage” as it was called then. He inherited the family seat Hopwell Hall near Ockbrook in Derbyshire from his father in 1833. The Pares’ wealth and land ownership came about through Thomas Pares 1 (1716-1805) who was an Attorney. It was he who purchased Hopwell Hall in 1786. His eldest son Thomas Pares 2 (1746-1824) died unmarried and therefore his younger brother John Pares (1749-1833) inherited. His eldest son was Thomas Pares 3. John Pares established the Pares Leicestershire Banking Company in 1800. The Estate was still being run back in Derbyshire at Hopwell Hall and although by no means a Chatsworth, it was substantial. Few large estates came onto the market and only a small core of families in Leicestershire could be described as landed gentry. Very few business families established themselves with any degree of security in the forefront of the County’s landed gentry but the most successful was the Pares. Their strength lay in the diversity of their interests – law, banking and manufacturing, which they used to increase their political influence and purchase of land. Thomas Pares 2 bought the Grey Friars site in Leicester and built a mansion on it. John Pares acquired land in Cosby, Narborough, Newbold Verdon, Knapcroft and Croft. Thomas Pares 3 became the Whig MP for Leicester in 1818 and 1826. The Pares became Justices, Mayors High Sheriffs, etc. House building became a principle of affirmation of status and although The Cottage was not on a grand scale, modest country houses appealed to the growing ranks of middle class professionals. Thomas Pares 3 died at Hopwell Hall on 26th April 1866 and left the cottage and contents to his wife. His eldest son was Thomas Henry Pares (1854-1931). The Lillingston family George William Lillingston (1834-1894) bought the Pares’ land and cottage in 1867. The land by then was over 900 acres extending from Copt Oak to Newtown Linford and Markfield. Within the estate was the Ulverscroft Priory. His widow Charlotte Augusta died in 1908 and both are buried in the churchyard of St. Peters, Copt Oak. There is a stained glass window in St Michaels, Markfield dedicated to him. According to the plaque below, their loving children erected the window. The eldest son was William George Lillingston-Johnson (1864-1914). In 1903 he discontinued the surname Johnson that had been acquired in mid-1800s due to a complex inheritance arrangement through a maternal line. He died at home in Ulverscroft from a chronic illness and is buried in Copt Oak in the same plot as his parents. His widow Olive Theodora was active in Markfield where she became President and Trustee of the Memorial Institute in 1925. Olive started spending more and more time away from Ulverscroft and died in 1932. Their son Luke Theodore Lillingston (1907- 1944) married Margaret Trelawney Seaton, Lady Harrington from her first marriage. Luke was joint Master of the Meath (Ireland) Foxhounds and became Master of the North Atherstone Fox Hounds in 1933 – the youngest Master in the country at the time. They had one son, Alan (1935-2014). He was the last Lillingston with a connection to The Cottage. He lived there as a young boy. He married Lady Vivienne Margaret Neville in 1962 and they had four children. The eldest son is Luke Lillingston, born in 1963. Luke Theodore died in France, near Caen, as a result of wounds received in action in WW2. He is remembered on the new war memorial in Markfield and on a memorial window in Copt Oak Church.
The breaking up of the Estate
The estate was sold following Luke’s death in 1944 and comprised around 810 acres. His will reveals the estate was split up into lots, which along with The Cottage passed through various owners until acquired by David Clarke in 1990. By then it was described a unique residential, equestrian and racehorse training establishment. By this time it comprised some 36 acres.
The Manor today The Shuttlewood Clarke Foundation now owns and occupies the Manor, alongside the neighbouring Grange. The Foundation supports the elderly, adults with disabilities and young people through wellbeing activities, outdoor education and inspiring support services.