The Hundred House

Hundred House_8_Great Witley_2013The Hundred House at Great Witley, stands at the junction of Worcester Road & Stourport Road. It is a Grade II listed building. The present building dates back to the eighteenth century when it was built by Lord Foley, the owner of Witley Court to replace an estate inn on the same site. The previous inn is mentioned in the parish register as early as 22nd September 1653.

The hotel name originates from centuries ago when the Hundred House was a collecting house for the tithes gathered from districts in the Doddingtree Hundred, which covered approximately forty villages in the north-west of the country (In the Domesday Book the Doddingtree Hundred consisted of thirty-eight manors). Ancient hostelries in the country were of special importance. To a wide district they were the ‘hub of the wheel’ of social activity where meetings, dances and sporting events took place. The Hundred House served a large area between the river Severn and the river Teme and was recognised as one of the most popular hotels in the country – it was a noted land-mark, being indicated on the-signposts and milestones within a wide radius. The present building was presumably built by Lord Foley to provide more convenient and up to date premises for the gentry who were attracted to the district with the expansion of Witley Court.

The Hundred House Hotel at Great Witley. Date unknown.
The Hundred House Hotel at Great Witley. Date unknown.

The Hundred House was situated at the intersection of the turnpike leading to and from Stourport, Tenbury, Worcester and Bromyard and was the meeting place of the Turnpike Trust, which controlled three local toll gates, until the late nineteenth century. The increased use of the Turnpike meant that an improved staging post, with ample stabling, was needed for travellers. In 1904 an advertisement stated that the Hundred House offered ‘private apartments for visitors, stable accommodation, fishing, shooting, house-brewed ales, wines and spirits and cigars of the best quality’. The cost of one night stay for two people in 1907 was fourteen shillings and two pence. The bill was made up as follows: One bedroom: three shillings, Two suppers: four shillings, Two breakfasts: four shillings, Half bottle of wine: three shillings, Half pint of beer: two pence. Charges for stabling were from three pence to six pence, with a quarter of bran costing three pence and a rack of hay costing six pence.

The hotel was used on special occasions as an additional catering facility for Witley Court, and on rent days villagers and tenants would get together for a drink or two. The Hundred House was also the place where county justice was dispensed. There was a court room and cell accommodation from 1790, and was the petty sessional court was held there until 1872 when a new court house was built by Lord Ward. All parish meetings, including vestry meetings, were also held at the Hundred House until 1880.

In 1890 the Great Witley & District Farmers Club was formed and fortnightly meetings were held at the Hundred House during the winter months to arrange competitions in ploughing, hedging, rick making etc. For many years the area which is now the car park, together with an adjoining paddock was used to hold stock sales. The adjoining land is still known as the Sale Yard.

There was an Annual Fair held at the Hundred House and its adjacent meadows on Shrove Tuesday, organised by the Oddfellows Friendly Society. Various sporting activities took place, including six-a-side football with a number of local teams involved, and there was also a visiting fair to attract families from the locality. Members of the Society then finished the day with dinner at the Hotel.

In 1920 Witley Court and its parkland was sold, and the remainder of the vast Great Witley and Holt Estates were put up for auction. One of the properties was the Hundred House Hotel, with eighty six acres of land. The sales catalogue mentioned eleven bedrooms, most fitted with stoves, plus the usual bars and public rooms. There was also stabling for twenty-four horses, a coach house, harness room and a garage for two cars. The extensive outbuildings contained the beer and malt houses, (the Hotel and a reputation for its home-brewed ale). However the property was not sold, but in 1925 there was another auction of the estate properties and the Hundred House, now with only nineteen acres was sold for £4500.00.

In 2013 the property was offered for sold again, and it is currently closed -awaiting development. The Hundred House has probably ended its time as a hotel. At the time of the sale in 2013 it had 27 bedrooms, a manager’s flat and banquetting facilities. The lounge bar seated around 50 people with a further 25 covers in the adjoining dining room. The Abberley Suite had its own private bar servery, where up to 130 could dine.

The Hunt outside the Hundred House.
The Hunt outside the Hundred House.

 

Old racing cars by the Hundred House
Old racing cars by the Hundred House

Hundred House_7_Great Witley_1940s

Circa 1940’s looking south onto the Abberley Hill behind.

An old Hundred House business card discovered by Terry Harris under the floorboards of Fox Cottage, Stourport Road, Great Witley.
An old Hundred House business card discovered by Terry Harris under the floorboards of Fox Cottage, Stourport Road, Great Witley.

 

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Comments

  1. John P Moss says

    My mother, was the licensee of the Hundred House from 1955 to about 1960. she lived there with three of her school age boys. I was a lot older than the other children, having been ‘ called up’ into the Army in 1952. Her full name was Olga Moss-Norbury but I think the ‘locals’ called Mrs Norbury.

    Much later in 1980 we had lunch with Jan Green. Her gardener said ” Ah yes MRS Norbury ! “

  2. Kevin Badham says

    I worked at the Hundred House in 1988 under Brian Offord. I can’t remember the owners name but they owned a farm down the road and I think the wife was called Diane, they had a Daughter who I believed used to manage the Hotel also.

    Such a shame to see it closed, we had a great time and Weddings and people loved the Hotel, at times it could be quiet but normally it was full with weddings and events at the weekends.

    The staff were all local with the local policeman wife and the receptionist with cleaners all being employed locally. I bet that times have changed and its no-longer viable or the investment is no-longer available.

    Thanks all you were really good to me.

    • admin says

      You guessed correctly John. The hotel and wedding trade declined over the years and it was put up for sale at approximately £1.5 million but in the end was sold for around £475,000!

      As at April 2017 its being re-developed into 18 residential units, the new part at the back has been demolished.

      There is to be a small bar at the front – it should be open for business at the end of this year we hear.

      In the meantime the village ‘local’ is a community bar at the village hall on Thursday nights!!.

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