Brinsop Court is a romantic Grade I listed English country manor house located in the village of Brinsop, Herefordshire, England. Dating back to the early fourteenth century, Brinsop Court is filled with excellent period features including large fireplaces, ornate ceilings and wooden panelling. The house, with medieval foundations is surrounded by lawns, encircled by a moat and nestled within a private 800 acre estate. With a long history and Royal connections, this house has been occupied by a succession of noble families and celebrities. After an extensive refurbishment, Brinsop Court is now primarily an exclusive wedding venue available for weekday or weekend celebrations and is owned by a local Herefordshire family.
The Old Court at Brinsop was built in the early fourteenth century—a time when medieval households were at their largest—by a local squire, and was grander than a similar manor across the county at Cheyney Longville, which was owned by a knight and member of parliament.
An ancient manuscript mentions that
a moat round and approached by a drawbridge; within the quadrangle was a Chapel and a crypt beneath it, a dungeon and a blacksmith's forge. The Chapel, with the staircase leading to it, occupied one side of the square; it had a groined roof and walls painted in frescoes.... Two towers flanked the drawbridge, having grotesque figures on their tops - one being a monkey playing with a fiddle. In the inner court was a third tower, which though in a perfect state of preservation, was pulled down about fifty years ago to assist in building a wall round the stables.
The first historical mention of Brinsop post-dates the Credenhill Iron Age fort, which was taken by the Roman legions marching along Watling Street on their way to conquer the Welsh Druids from 60 to 72 AD. Brinsop is also an affluent or minor tributary of the River Wye. The local legend has it that at the time of medieval settlement of the land at Brinsop in 1210 or earlier by a French Norman Ralph Torell, later a benefactor of the new founding of a priory abbey at Wormesley, a knight called St George slayed a dragon on the spot where the church was founded. Ralph's son Ralph also lived at Brinsop and confirmed the charter grant. Sir Roger was knighted by Edward I for fighting against his enemies during the Welsh Wars from 1282 onwards.[a] The third Ralph died without an heir, his sister therefore inheriting. She brought Brinsop in her dower to husband, Adam Lucas in 1305. In 1340 the King Edward III allowed a reversion charter to Ralph Tirell of 240 acres in fee for military service - de Domino Herberto filio Petri - a tenants of Lord Herbert.
It was mentioned in Edward Mogg's 16th edition of Paterson's Roads (1822), when it was owned by Dansey Richard Dansey. The Dansey family owned the house for 500 years before it died out in the early nineteenth century. Roger Dansey (1588-1658), who was a High Sheriff in 1631 during the personal rule, owed his loyalties to royalism. During the Civil War when the estate was estimated to be worth £800 per annum, he married Ann Smyth, daughter of Richard Smyth of Credenhill; their fourth and eldest surviving son, William Dansey was a captain in the King's army. The king Charles I recruited his services for a secret mission on the continent where he met and later married Lady Dudley, daughter of the Earl of Leicester, the royalist ambassador in Paris. She travelled to Florence fleeing Cromwell's agents, where the Grand Duke of Tuscany raised her to the rank of Duchess, a title approved by Charles I.
The stained glass in the church celebrates a visit by the King to the house in 1645, which is confirmed by the differenced arms of the Danseys with the ducal families of Chandos, Talbot, and Baskerville. After the king's defeat the Danseys were compounded by parliament for £390. Their grandson, Colonel Richard Dansey was a renowned soldier in Marlborough's campaigns gaining laurels for his actions at the Battle of Almanza. The house was slighted to some extent, the remainder falling into ruins during the antiquarian period of the eighteenth century when it was the habit to loot the stone of ramshackle buildings. That was its circumstance when a wealthy banker decided to rescue the property.
In 1817 the house was purchased for £26,000 by the economist David Ricardo of Gatcombe Park, who was buying a number of estates at the time, not least Bromsberrow Place, situated above the Severn at the point where the three counties intersected. These mid-Georgian era houses were in the area commonly built in the Decorated Style at the height of grandeur of the Augustan Age. Abroad the late great King George II had won a series of stunning battles on the continent. Another herefordian Robert Clive had utterly defeated the French in India; and General Wolfe had died heroically on the Heights of Abraham, and the streets of every town echoed to the strains of Britannia Rules the Waves. The Georgian decorated style is featured across the Forest north to Hereford and west to the Malvern Hills. Ricardo leased Brinsop to Thomas Hutchinson, brother-in-law of William Wordsworth. Wordsworth visited the house from December 1827 to January 1828, and wrote three of his sonnets in that time. His sister, Dorothy Wordsworth, wrote of Brinsop Court that it was
no cheerless spot, and flowers in the hedges and blossoms in the numerous orchards will soon make it gay. Our fireside is enlivened by four fine, well-managed children, and cheerful friends; Mrs. Hutchinson is one of the most pleasing and excellent of women....
Hutchinson's sister Sara Hutchinson, a former lover of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, also stayed there with the friends. From 1845 Dearman Edwards occupied the building as a tenant farmer purchasing it at the end of his life in 1909, when it was sold.
From 1912 the house was owned by Captain Philip Astley. He commissioned architect Henry Avray Tipping to completely modernise the design of the place into a full square by adding the east wing which was completed in 1913. They upgraded the outbuildings and extended the gardens to a working farm. During the 1930s, Astley brought his new wife, the actress and socialite Madeleine Carroll to live at the house, whose friends and guests included Noël Coward.
- Quarterly, 1 and 4, Barry wavy of six argent, and gules
- Dansey; 2 Azure, on a cross argent 5 escallops gules
- Cricketoft; 3 Or, three bars dancette gules
|Ancestors of Brinsop Court|
- Joanna, daughter of Hugh Tyrell, and grand daughter of Sir Randall Tyrell married Owen St Owen of Tyrell Court. His Coat of Arms incorporates Tyrell differenced in the last quarter. The genealogy was uncovered in Duncumb's History of Herefordshire, and subsequently improved by latter day historians.
- Brinsop Court. Historic England. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
- Emery, Anthony (2006). Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales, 1300–1500. 3. Cambridge University Press. p. 21. ISBN 1139449192. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
- Biscoe MS; Robinson, p.47
- "History of Brinsop in Herefordshire - Map and description".
- Liber Scutari
- Paterson, Daniel; Mogg, Edward (1822). Paterson's Roads: The Sixteenth Edition. Longman and Company. p. 142. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
- Upton, Chris (3 October 2014). "Brinsop Court in Herefordshire housed some famous historical names". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
- Richard Symonds, Diary; Robinson, p.48
- Curtis, Jared (2011). The Fenwick Notes of William Wordsworth. Lulu.com. p. 266. ISBN 1847600751. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
- Knight, William, ed. (1907). Letters of the Wordsworth Family. II. p. 281. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
- "Britannia Country Houses: Brinsop Court (Herefordshire)".
- Brooks, Alan; Pevsner, Nikolaus (2004). The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. New Haven and London.
- Jenkins, Simon (2009). Britain's Thousand Best Churches. London.
- Robinson, Rev. S.J. (2001) . The Mansions and Manors of Herefordshire. London.