In 1938 the whole of Witley Court was offered for sale as a whole, but did not fetch the reserve, so the estate was then offered in 15 lots as shown in this map. However only Lot 15 reached the reserve price and was sold. These Lots excluded the standing timber on the estate which was sold separately and saw good prices fetched.
Some of this timber was used in the building of minesweepers during the Second World War.
The sale report which appeared in the Saturday 1st October 1938 Edition of the Berrows Journal Newspaper provides us with a detailed insight into the dispersal of the once great Witley Court estate.
See our Full Transcript of the Newspaper Article (easier to read)
The report highlights some of the difficulties facing auctioneers tasked with the dispersal of estates such as Witley Court in the immediate per Second World War era. The prices of furniture and embellishments make interesting reading but of particular note is the sale of the estates timber.
The largest purchase of timber amounting to the 115 acres of Deerbarn Wood to Messrs Coltman Brothers of Claybrooke Magna Leicestershire. Local resident Mrs Judy Goodman recalls the Coltman family in her interview:
You can hear Judy Goodman talking about the timber sale:
The Coltman Family confirmed to Judy that much of the timber purchased from Witley Court was processed at the sawmills in Claybrooke and then supplied to Messrs Humphrey and Smith ship builders of Grimsby.
Messrs Humphrey and Smith were contracted by the Government to build 25 wooden hulled motor mine sweepers for the Royal Navy. An example of the Class FY1023 is shown in the photograph.
While it is not possible to confirm which vessels of the class received Witley Court timber it can be said with a degree of certainty that Witley timber made a significant contribution to the Royal Navy Class MMS II motor mine sweeper fleet and the defence of our Country during the Second World War.