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Stapleford Hall, The Wrights
By Leonard Jacks, The Great houses of Nottinghamshire and the County Families.(1881)

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Stapleford Hall in the early 20th century. The house was rebuilt in 1788 and demolished in 1935.

Mr. Charles Ichabod Wright, best known as Colonel Wright, of Stapleford Hall, in this county, and of Watcombe Park, Devonshire, is the head of a family which has every claim to be numbered amongst the representatives of the great houses of this county.

The Wrights of Mapperley are represented on the male side by four brothers, of whom the late Colonel of the Robin Hoods is the eldest. The other brothers, who are well known here, are Mr. Henry Smith Wright, of Park Hill, in Hampshire; Mr. Frederick Wright, of Lenton Hall, a place which, generations ago, was occupied by his ancestors; and Mr. George Howard Wright. The two elder brothers have, to some extent, at any rate, been identified with local politics ; the two younger have taken a very useful part in movements for the improvement of the moral and social condition of the people.

In his early life Colonel Wright probably enjoyed advantages which do not come within the reach of all sons of the wealthy. His father was not only a ripe scholar but a thoroughly practical man. He combined with a cultivated intellect and the possession of high scholastic acquirements, a genuine spirit of business. Such a combination is rare; the scholar may become an ascetic; the business man may sacrifice his finer faculties on the shrine of Mammon, or in the idle pursuit of profitless forms of pleasure.

In any reference to Colonel Wright and to his antecedents, one must say something of his father, because he was a distinguished man who is yet very well remembered, though the introduction of his name in this part of the article is somewhat out of chronological order. The late Mr. Ichabod Charles Wright, whose Christian names the Colonel bears, joined his father in the banking business in the year 1825, after he had become a fellow of his college. In the year of his entrance into business he married the daughter of the first Lord Denman, who afterwards became Lord Chief Justice of England. His after life was spent most industriously between business and study. He translated the “Inferno,” “Purgatorio,” and “Paradise” of Dante, which translations were published by Messrs. Longmans, in 1833, 1836, and 1840. A second edition of these translations was published in 1845, and their value may be gathered from the verdict of a critic who, writing in one of the leading journals said: “Lord Denman may well be proud of his son-in-law, who has converted into his lordship’s vernacular one of the grandest works of the human imagination, making the English peasant familiar with the loftiest dreams of genius that ever swept the eyelids of the Italian poet.

These translations may be placed amongst the worthiest of the kind we possess in our own language.” In 1841 Mr. Wright published “Thoughts on Currency,” and in 1847, “Evils of the Currency,” subjects on which he was well qualified to write. In 1865 he published a translation of the Iliad of Homer in blank verse, which may take its place with the translations of Pope and Lord Derby. Mr. Wright’s last issue from the Press was in 1857, and consisted of a selection from the Psalms, in verse, which was written when he was partially blind. Of this distinguished and respected gentleman, whose remains were laid in Carrington Churchyard only nine years ago, Colonel Wright is the eldest son, and it is more than probable that to his early training are now due, in a measure, those qualities which have made him so popular in this town, and which leave such a pleasant impression upon those with whom he comes in contact, whether in the relations of business, or within the hospitable walls of either of his country residences.

The lineage of the Wrights of Mapperley starts with a Thomas Wright, of Nottingham, who, born in 1724, had sons, Ichabod, of Mapperley, and John Smith, of Rempstone Hall, who was High Sheriff of this county in 1815. The third son lived at Upton Hall, near Newark, and was also in turn High Sheriff of the county. His son was Joseph Banks Wright, who married into the Dashwood (Stanton Hall) family. Then we come to Ichabod Wright, grandfather to the four brothers who now represent the Nottinghamshire branch of the family, who married Miss Harriet Day, of Yarmouth, by whom he had fourteen children, amongst them nine daughters, most of whom married into families of distinction, whilst one of his sons married a daughter of Archbishop Howley, the then Primate, and another a near relative of Lord Ellenborough’s. One of the daughters, of whom Colonel Wright and his brothers are nephews, married a son of Lord Boston; another married Sir John Shaw Lefevre, a man of considerable distinction, and brother to Lord Eversley; a third married one of Lord Carlisle’s sons, who became Dean of Lichfield; and a fourth became Lady Overstone, when her husband, Mr. Samuel Jones Lloyd, was raised to the peerage.

It is somewhat remarkable that this large family comprised three sets of twins. After this gentleman, came the distinguished man who translated the wondrous Tale of Troy, and now Colonel Wright perpetuates the favourite forenames which for generations have been borne by the head of the Wrights of Nottinghamshire. As the Wrights of Swanwick, in Derbyshire, are another branch of the family, it would perhaps be well to glance at such parts of their pedigree as affect the Colonel’s family.

We are now enabled to go back two centuries earlier than the house of Thomas Wright, of Nottingham, and to trace the family to a John Wright, of Stow-market, in Suffolk, whose will was made in 1557, and who assumed the alias Camplyon—a rather picturesque patronym, by the way.

His first son was Captain John Wright, who suffered eight years’ imprisonment in Newark Castle for his attachment to the Parliamentary cause, and it was very natural that he should never be able to understand why be was incarcerated. He afterwards acquired property in several parts of Nottinghamshire, and in a certain part of Suffolk, and at his death he was buried in St. Peter’s Church, in this town.

The second son of this gentleman settled at Bingham, and was interred in St. Mary’s Church, Nottingham, where there is a monument to his memory. He left two sons, Samuel and Ichabod, the first named of whom was born about the year 1697. Ichabod, the second son, born in 1700, is described as a banker, who owned lands in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. This member of the family, so far as I have been able to make out, was originally engaged in the Baltic trade, and late in his life, about the year 1760, he devoted a portion of his wealth to the establishment of Wright’s Bank, taking his two sons into partnership. This, the first of the family, who was christened Ichabod, is also buried in the precincts of St. Mary’s Church. John, the heir of Ichabod, was also a banker in Nottingham; he married a daughter of John Sherbrooke, of this town, and left issue several children, one of whom, Samuel, of Gunthorpe, married a daughter of Lord Coventry.

His eldest son, John Wright, banker, of Langar and Lenton Hall, principal proprietor of the Butterley Works, married a daughter of Mr. Berresford, of Ashbourne, Derbyshire. His eldest son, also of Lenton Hall, died in Naples, in 1828, and left a daughter, who became the wife of the Earl of Buckinghamshire. One of the sons of this John Wright was the late Mr. Frank Wright, of Osmaston Manor, a magistrate for Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and Staffordshire, and High Sheriff of the first-named county in 1842, who married a daughter of Sir Henry Fitzherbert, of Tissington.

From documents in the possession of Colonel Wright, and from other sources, I have selected such portions of this pedigree as bore more directly upon the family of bankers.

Colonel Wright is undoubtedly one of the most popular of our local public men. Yet he is no orator as Brutus was ; his public speeches are delivered in a hesitating manner, and they convey to the listener the impression, which is rightly founded, that public demonstrations are not in his line, and that be would very much prefer to be away from the glare of that fierce light which beats about the life of a public man. Yet Colonel Wright’s public career may be described as eminently successful.

He got into Parliament twelve years ago with very little trouble; he simply put himself in nomination at the eleventh hour, and the people returned him with Nottingham, and to trace the family to a John Wright, of Stow-market, in Suffolk, whose wlll was made in 1557, and who assumed the alias Camplyon—a rather picturesque patronym, by the way.

His first son was Captain John Wright, who suffered eight years’ imprisonment in Newark Castle for his attachment to the Parliamentary cause, and it was very natural that he should never be able to understand why he was incarcerated. He afterwards acquired property in several parts of Nottinghamshire, and in a certain part of Suffolk, and at his death he was buried in St. Peter’s Church, in this town.

The second son of this gentleman settled at Bingham, and was interred in St. Mary’s Church, Nottingham, where there is a monument to his memory. He left two sons, Samuel and Iehabod, the first named of whom was born about the year 1697. Ichabod, the second son, born in 1700, is described as a banker, who owned lands in Lineolnshire and Nottinghamshire. This member of the family, so far as I have been able to make out, was originally engaged in the Baltic trade, and late in his life, about the year 1760, he devoted a portion of his wealth to the establishment of Wright’s Bank, taking his two sons into partnership. This, the first of the family, who was christened Ichabod, is also buried in the precincts of St. Mary’s Church. John, the heir of Ichabod, was also a banker in Nottingham; he married a daughter of John Sherbrooke, of this town, and left issue several children, one of whom, Samuel, of Gun-thorpe, married a daughter of Lord Coventry. His eldest son, John Wright, banker, of Langar and Lenten Hall, principal proprietor of the Butterley Works, married a daughter of Mr. Berresford, of Ashbourne, Derbyshire.

His eldest son, also of Lenton Hall, died in Naples, in 1828, and left a daughter, who became the wife of the Earl of Buekinghamshire. One of the sons of this John Wright was the late Mr. Frank Wright, of Osmaston Manor, a magistrate for Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and Staffordshire, and High Sheriff of the first-named county in 1842, who married a daughter of Sir Henry Fitzherbert, of Tissington. From documents in the possession of Colonel Wright, and from other sources, I have selected such portions of this pedigree as bore more directly upon the family of bankers.

Ill health, combined perhaps with some little dislike of the stormy atmosphere of political life, induced Colonel Wright to give up his seat after a few months of senatorial experience, but he continued to command the Robin Hood Rifles for a long period after his resignation, and no one questioned the prudence or the policy of the step he had taken. He was as popular as ever, and at the head of the famous regiment in whose welfare he took, and still takes, such a thorough interest, and on the occasion of his rare attendance at public gatherings, whether political or social, his presence was equally acceptable, and he bad still that hold upon public estimation which he has always maintained. Such is the picture, imperfect, perhaps, in some of its lines, but truthful so far as it goes, of the high-minded English gentleman who divides his time between Stapleford Hall and Watcomb Park—between Nottinghamshire and Devonshire.

A river, from which the Valley of the Erewash takes its name, turgid when there has been much rain, tolerably bright under ordinary conditions, has been forced to take its course close to the house, which has a low situation. Running water, whether in the volume of a river, or in the form of a thread-like brook, always gives picturesqueness to a landscape, and the only regret with regard to the Erewash at Stapleford is that it contributes this element at a point which is rather too near the mansion.

The grounds have been very much expanded by the present owner, who has taken in large pieces of what was open field beyond the boundaries of the grounds, and placed them under the hands of his gardener. They are now part of the garden, and set with a very fine collection of shrubs, chiefly of the fir kind. Colonel Wright, I may mention, is a great admirer and a successful grower of coniferae, and has discovered that a ball shot straight from a small rifle will remove a superfluous “leader” from the summits of the tall ones, which cannot well be reached by ordinary appliances.

The other portions of the garden are planted with flowers, which seem to have been chosen for the brightness and beauty of their colours. There is a still brighter collection in the spacious copper-roofed and copper-framed conservatory attached to the house, and built, I believe, necessarily at great expense, by the late Lady Warren, who formerly lived here. A broad gravel terrace runs parallel with the house, and terminates at a small group of Scotch firs, which is immediately approached by a flight of grass steps. The Stapleford mansion itself does not represent any distinct type of architecture. It has been in all probability added to and altered by successive owners. One portion of it dates back many generations, and presents the solid conventionalism which certain architects of the sixteenth century observed. The inner walls of this part of the house are almost unnecessarily substantial, and the mullioned windows, through which light is still admitted into several of the rooms, furnish still further evidence of the antiquity of the building.

The manor has been successively owned by the Staplefords, the Tevereys, and at a later period by that celebrated Admiral, Sir John Borlace Warren, who performed many important services, which are fully recorded in the naval histories of the period, and who represented the borough of Nottingham in Parliament from 1796 to 1806. During the American War Sir John occupied the important post of Commander-in-Chief of her Majesty’s ships on the North American station. At the close of that contest he returned to his country, and spent most of his time at Stapleford Hall, taking an active part in the magisterial business of the county. His widow resided at Stapleford until a comparatively recent date. Lady Warren died, I believe, in 1839.

There is an old picture in the possession of Colonel Wright, which contains a representation of the original proportions of Stapleford Hall. It is of large dimensions, and is evidently the work of an artist of more than average ability. Much of the canvas is occupied by sombre foliage, which might belong to any locality, but in one corner appear the conventional proportions of the old hall, and its identity is fixed more conclusively by the introduction of the river, and other features peculiar to the village, it is curious to note how love of, and aptitude in, certain accomplishments permeates certain families.

I have known families, of whom each member is practically musical, if one may so speak. Several of Colonel Wright’s family are painters. The Colonel himself, is or was, a not unskilful manipulator of the pencil and brush, and his two sons spend much of their time at the easel. The elder of them has reproduced very faithfully two of Niemann’s landscapes, now hanging in the dining room, which represent that famous and most industrious artist in his brightest and sunniest mood, and there is more of his work in the house. There are certain rooms in the house consecrated to painting, and the younger brother is working at a drawing this morning. Perhaps they may have inherited this taste from their ancestors, for in one of the principal rooms there is a large picture of rare merit by their great-grandmother—a Mrs. Wright, of Mapperley. The subject is one which might have been chosen by Gainsborough, and in some of its aspects the picture reminds one of that master. There are others, too, of the family, in bygone generations, who painted well.

That Colonel Wright is fond of good pictures there is abundant evidence within the walls of his Nottinghamshire residence. In making his art purchases he does not seem to have been actuated by a mere desire to possess. After looking at his collection, one is impressed with a notion that he has bought whnt most appealed to his taste and sympathies. The more valuable of his large pictures are exhibited in corners of the house, where they would hardly be seen by the casual visitor. The brighter specimens adorn the walls of the drawing room; others, including the two Niemans, have taken up permanent quarters in the dining room. But the masters are not altogether excluded from the collection.

Frank Hals’ portrait of Vandyck, and an example of Guido, entitled “The Assumption,” take their place on the same walls, with modern landscapes, seascapes, and river and mountain scenes, not the least meritorious of which are contributed by Mr. Wake, who has more than once been a guest of the genial owner of Stapleford. In the same company is to be seen the fascinating Duchess of Cleveland as Sir Peter Lely saw her, when her beauty and vivacity won for her a foremost place in the Court of the Second Charles, and there are two charming water-colours from Varley’s facile brush. I believe Colonel Wright’s taste runs in the direction of water-colours. From his own little room, used for the purposes of business and study, the graver work of the painter has been banished, and the walls are covered with pretty water-colours—bits by Prout, Gastineau, Bernard Evans, and half a dozen others, whose names stand high amongst the water-colourists. Several of the pictures in the dining room came from Mapperley Hall, which was built nearly a century ago by Mr. Ichabod Wright, “before I had any idea of being married,” as he says in the volumnious journal he left behind him, Here are two small pictures by Von Blumen, the fine examples of Niemann already mentioned, two, of five or six, works by this great artist possessed by Colonel Wright ; a meritorious painting by Thomas Wright, a member of the family, who lived at Upton, in this county, said to have received finishing touches from the hand of Wilson ; a Clarkson Stansfield, a Canaletti, and two paintings by Bussy, representing incidents on the Field of Bosworth, which possesses local interest.

These two pictures formerly formed part of a collection at Wartnaby. A representation of tree trunks, lichen “—covered and knarled, bears the sign of Salvator Rosa, and at one end of the room there is a large picture by Sir William Allen, once president of the Scotch Academy—a canvas from which we learn something of the generous side of the First Napoleon’s character, for the Emperor is here distributing money to helpless prisoners. Upstairs there are several interesting old paintings, which, it is fair to suppose, have been placed rather out of the way on account of their size; partly, perhaps, because their subjects are not the most pleasant to look upon. it is pleasanter to feast one’s eyes upon Niemann’s grand picture, “London, from Waterloo Bridge,” which hangs, in Colonel Wright’s name, on the walls of the Castle Museum, at Nottingham, than to study Le Brun’s canvas showing Hercules, of brawny limb, slaying the flesh-fed horses of Diomedes, which occupies the greater part of one of the upstairs corridors at Stapleford.

By Leonard Jacks, The Great houses of Nottinghamshire and the County Families.(1881)

Thanks to A. Nicholson for the use of text and pictures: www.nottshistory.org.uk

Stapleford History > Bramcote Hall - The Smiths >
Stapleford and Kimberley > Stapleford Cross >
St Helen's Church > The Hemlock Stone >
St Helen's - The Teverey Family >


 
 
 
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