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August 24, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Archives – the Red House

2016-08-21, George Davies & wife Ada, April 1935

George Davies & wife Ada, April 1935

2016-08-21, photos of The Red House in Aug 2016 001

The Red House today

2016-08-21, map showing Red HouseI met up again with Elwyn Jones on Friday in Apley Farm Shop’s Creamery Cafe, when he shared with me this photo of his Aunt Ada & Uncle George Davies on their wedding day in April 1935.

Their son Gerald wrote a booklet about what he knew of their lives in The Red House 1935-1938. I don’t yet know

who lived there before Mr & Mrs Davies, but do know they moved there with no running or electricity, which must have been a big shock for Ada who’d moved from Wolverhampton.  George Davies may have lived in the Redhouse before 1935. He loved nature, so clearly would have loved living in the middle of the woods.

We wondered if there was a link between the Balls foundry on the opposite side of the river & The Red House. Balls Foundry was named after its owner Benjamin Ball, but it was originally operated by John Wilkinson in association with the New Willey Ironworks. There was a tramway from the works down Tarbatch Dingle to a wharf (Willey Wharf) next to the foundry. It was here that Wilkinson’s iron boat was launched.  When the ironworks closed Benjamin Ball took over the foundry and continued to work it until at least 1829 but it seems to have closed by 1835.

Forge Cottage (over the river, by Apley Bridge) had a blacksmith living there in 1901, but there had been ironworks there as early as 1765. There were also ironworks in the Linley Brook as early as the 1630s (which I detailed in an earlier blog).

During our conversation, Elwyn told me his great grandfather drowned trying to rescue a waggoner in difficulties crossing the river.  It surprised me that anyone at any time had tried to ford the river – but perhaps it was once possible during the drier months of the year. He was buried at Astley Abbotts in 1913. Steve Dewhirst sent me a map showing that the right of way crosses the river from Balls Foundry to the Apley Estate side of the river. He’d always wondered if this was a ferry, but this story confirms it was a ford.  There is a creek showing on this map here, which also suggests residents used the river for access.

Both Elwyn’s great grandfather & grandfather lived at 5 Apley Forge. His grandfather Lewis Davies rented fields from the Apley Estate & as well as working as a plate layer on the GWR railway line (which passed Linley Station until 1963) & running a small holding with cows, pigs & chickens. His great grandfather George Frederick Davies lists himself as gardener (domestic) – I wonder if that was at Apley Hall (Apley Park).

An important thing about this house is its name – it must have been very distinctive from the others in the area (which may have been from sandstone) to have been called the Red House or simply due to the contrast between the brick of the house when every where around was green foliage.  To me, Apley Walled Gardens red bricked walls don’t look as old as pre-1775 & I’d say the same of the old ironmaster’s house by Apley Bridge (which dates back to the 1630s).  I’ll do more research & hopefully come closer to an answer soon.

Steve sent me the 1901 & 1811 censuses & it’s not mentioned, but there is a house on the 1901 census called Riverside, between Old Park Farm and Apley Farm which makes sense.  On the 1911, he could only find ‘Sevenside’, which may be a different cottage altogether.

Access now to the Red House is now extremely difficult & strictly private.



Leave a Comment
  1. Andrew Mitchell / Oct 11 2018 5:07 pm

    Hello, I am researching the Norwich-born artist George Vincent (for my own interest), whose best known painting ‘Greenwich Hospital from the River’ (1827) was purchased by William Orme Foster in the 1870s. I have no idea of its whereabouts, or even what it looks like, but it is described in old books. If the painting was sold, your estate archives might have a record of it. Can you help me at all?

    Andrew Mitchell (Norwich, Norfolk)

    • Apley Estate - Hamiltons / Oct 11 2018 8:12 pm

      Hi – I’ll look into this – KR Harriet Hamilton

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