An Echo from the Past – The Gatehouse

From The Archives

Parish Magazine July 2007

John Partington.


The Gatehouse was situated in what is now Woodman Lane, by The Heywood Gallery, opposite to the now vanished Derricks Lane which led into Violet Lane. In 1611 the court rolls recorded that John Sparry of the Gatehouse was fined for non-attendance at the court. The Sparrys had been in Clent since 1273 and for nearly 300 years were the ‘village squires’. Having built Clent House on the other side of the road in 1613 John moved over to  live there. A record from 1616 informs us that John Cox, ‘a Bailiff of the Court’ was  of The Gatehouse.’The Cox family remained there until1742 when the property was acquired by Francis Clare of kidderminster for £1,071.Francis sold it in 1760 to the Rev Other Philpotts of Pedmore who a year later bought the adjoining Grove Cottage , (now Elisabeth Cottage) with stable and malthouse.

The Rev Other Philpotts sold the property to John Turner, a Haberdasher of Cheapside, London in 1773, who died after living in Clent only 9 years.

46 year old Thomas Liell, who had been a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy and former Commander of the Stafford , East Indianman; then became the owner of The Gate House. He rebuilt the house close to the original and also had a folly built to  imitate a ruined castle. He changed the name to Clent Grove. It has been suggested that his daughters disliked the name Gatehouse because of its similarity  to The Gate, public house which stood in front of the parish church.

Having lost their parents and brother, who died in Calcutta in 1807, the sisters remained in the house until 1860.

The house was now in a tumbledown state and was leased to Jacob Stokes of Walton House. he was the agent for William orme Forster’s ironworks. Jacob built the present Clent Grove  further onto the site backing onto the hill. Jacob was tragically killed in a riding accident and the lease was taken over by Forster for his new agent , Henry Grazebrook Jnr. In 1870 forster bought the property from the heirs of the Leills and on the death of henry grazebrook in 1888 the estate was let to the Rev Frederick Newman  and then later sold to George Fergusson Chance for £8.035 who enlarged the house by the addirion of a library and Billiard Room and added bow windows to the DayNursery. A Lodge and Dairy were added in 1897.

George F Chance left Clent in 1912 handing the estate to his second son William Hugh Stobart Chance in 1921, the estate at that time being let to Richard stuart Todd.

In 1930 the property was sold to Michael Wilson, the founder of Sunfield School which exists on that site today. Clent Grove is now owned by the trustees of Sunfield Children’s Homes.

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