Hillhampton is possibly the old site of Hillhampton manor house, and belonged to Martley parish until 1904. The current building is Elizabethan – it has a great hall with a large fireplace and traces of a spit. There is a Jacobean ceiling in one bedroom.
The house formed part of the the Witley Court Estate and up until the 1840’s it was lived in by members of the Russell & Foley families during their ownership Witley Court.
In the 1840’s it was refurbished by Mr Gittins, and he built a picture gallery. Earl Howe took the house in 1843, he was comptroller to Dowager Queen Adelaide. The Hon. Robert Eden, Lord Dudley’s agent lived there and some of his pupil assistants in mid 19th century .
In November 1900, at an inquest in Kidderminster, Frederick Dickens a carpenter for Witley Court living at Hillhampton House said that his 5 year old daughter Nellie went down stairs, and moments later he heard screams. He ran downstairs and saw Nellie in flames. The servant who had just lit the fire using an oil lamp had gone to the larder to get “a piece” of bread, Nellie stood too near to the fireplace and her nightdress had started to burn. Dr Greensill attended and sent her to the Infirmary where she died the same day. Mr Dickens said he was only the caretaker and thought he could not fit a fire guard. The court expressed deep sympathy for the parents .
In the 1910’s it was rented to wealthy widow Mrs Mc Geagh and her children Mollie and Bill with their governess Miss Hempson, whom they shared with the Wilson children. Mrs McGeagh took part in many village activities and was one of the first motor car owners. During the First World War it is said German prisoners were housed there or in the barns, although we have seen no proof of this. They did however live somewhere in Hillhampton.
The house was included in the Witley Court 1920 Sale Catalogue (see extract) when the estate was sold, but it was withdrawn from the auction when it failed to make its reserve.
In 1926, the house was bought by Dr Bernard Goodwin (an ‘Ear Nose & Throat’ specialist) and his wife Amy, nee Palethorpe (the well known sausage makers). Amy’s sister owned Home Farm & Walsgrove Farm.
The Goodwins carried out extensive refurbishment and knocked down one wing. They had 3 daughters – Margot, Mary, & Rosemary. During the second World War they also housed a small finishing school for young ladies. Dr Goodwin also owned part of Witley Court ground opposite Hillhampton including the pool, as well as the Plantation. They played a part in village affairs (she wrote some of the Womens Institute history), and was also part of the Parochial Church Council, etc. When Amy died Bernard married Mrs Marjorie Stanley from Witley Manor, they built the house now owned by English Heritage, Mary now Mrs Stringer Jones built a house on the Plantation.
Sir Tatton Brinton, head of Brinton’s Carpets was the next owner. He fought in the second war, and was Mayor of Kidderminster in 1953. His first wife died in 1960. They had 3 boys, a girl (Val), and employed a housekeeper – Miss LLoyd. His second wife was Lady de Vere Brinton. He was a pleasant sociable man who enjoyed cooking. He became an M.P. for Kidderminster in 1964. After Lady de Vere Brinton died he remarried and soon after moved to Tenbury Wells.
The article above was researched and written by Ruth Butler and Judith Henshaw.
In 1951 the building was designated with Grade II* listed building status.
In 1955 The Great Witley Womens Institute included several pages of information in their Jubilee Book, including a fascinating narrative written by the Goodwins following their purchase of the house in 1929. The Goodwins describe how they restored the house and they remember their times there. See our Hillhampton extract from the WI 1955 Jublilee Book.