Nostalgia: royal gardener was lord of the manor
IT was only after Lady Viola Waller lodged her family archives with the County Record Office in 1948 that the story of a very local family began to emerge.
And perhaps it was only right that the archives were returned to the Record Office in Warwick because a small wing of that building was originally The Priory, purchased by retired royal gardener Henry Wise in 1709.
The rise of the Wise and Waller families are inextricably linked with the history of Warwick, Leek Wootton and the ‘new town’ boom of Leamington Spa.
Father-of-ten Henry Wise had been the gardener to King William III and George I.
After buying The Priory along with several other local manors in the surrounding villages, some descendants ended up living at Woodcote - now the police headquarters at Leek Wootton.
By 1790, in Leamington Priors, then just a small hamlet south of the River Leam, Henry’s grandson Matthew built a small bath house after deciding the salty-tasting recently discovered spa waters might prove a worthwhile investment.
But Matthew was keen to protect his privacy and refused to allow further development around his bathhouse at the corner of Bath Lane.
No doubt one of the reaons most of the wealthier houses ended up being centred around the Parade.
Not that Matthew was such a bad businessman. He sold land to the London and North West Railway Company and built Shrubland Hall, off Tachbrook Road, which remained in family ownership until 1923 and wasn’t demolished until after the Second World War.
By that time the Wallers, cousins of the Wises, had inherited Woodcote at Leek Wooton which was temporarily being used as a Red Cross hospital.
Following the sudden death of Sir Wathen - who must have Wathen Road in Warwick named after him, Lady Viola never really went back.
Confused? You won’t be if you go along to the next meeting of the Whitnash Society at 7.45pm on Monday (June 11) when keen local history buffs Paul and Lesley Eldridge will be giving a talk.
As always, visitors are made welcome at the meetings held in the Sports and Social Club on Heathcote Road for the small contribution of £1.
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Weather for Warwick
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North west
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