The History of Welford Park

On the site of the present house and church stood a monastery in the care of the monks of Abingdon until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536 on the order of King Henry VIII. The King kept Welford as his own deer hunting lodge until he granted it to one of his courtiers, Sir Thomas Parry in 1546. Sir Thomas later became Treasurer of the household of Queen Elizabeth I. His son, also called Sir Thomas Parry, was the next owner of Welford. He was a Member of Parliament, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Master of the Court of Wards and the ambassador to France. His heir sold Welford in 1618 to Sir Francis Jones Kt, Lord Mayor of London in 1620-1 and this is the one and only time that the Manor of Welford has changed hands for money. The present house was originally built for Sir Francis’s grandson, Richard Jones, circa 1652 by John Jackson of Oxford. Richard Jones had no sons and his heiress Mary married John Archer in 1680. In 1700 Thomas Archer, who later became an eminent architect, came into the family by marrying Eleanor the only child of John and Mary Archer. Despite having the same name Thomas was in fact no relation of the Archers of Welford until his marriage. Thomas remodelled the front of the house by adding a storey and by constructing the Ionian columns that adorn the front façade.  In 1780 the single storey kitchen block was added to the north. In 1840 a courtyard that originally existed at the back was filled in by creating the dining room which is now the largest room in the house.

Thomas could hardly have finished his work before his wife Eleanor and her mother Mary both died in 1702. Four years later John Archer also died and the house passed to the husband of his niece, Eleanor Wrottesley, who had married William Eyre from an old established family of Derbyshire. The condition of this inheritance was that William Eyre had to change his name to Archer. William was proud to belong to the Eyre family and stipulated that at the earliest opportunity in a future generation a second son would resume his family name of Eyre. In the event this was not to happen for several generations, and then a lack of sons in further generations meant that the family name was resumed only for one generation.

William Eyre/Archer had no children by Eleanor and when she died he married Susanna Newton from a Lincolnshire family and who was distantly related to Sir Isaac. They had two sons, but the second son, instead of changing his name back to Eyre, changed it to Newton in order to inherit his mother’s Estate of Culverthorpe, near Grantham. The only children of these two sons were the two daughters of the elder, and only one of these daughters produced any children. She was Susanna who inherited Culverthorpe from her mother, but Welford was left straight to her son by her father. In 1770 she married Jacob Houblon of Hallingbury Place in Essex. Her only son John took the name Archer Houblon in 1800 on inheriting Welford from his grandfather.

The Houblons were a Huguenot family who fled to London in 1560 from Lille, then part of the Spanish Netherlands, in order to escape the religious persecution then being imposed by the Spanish Governor. They quickly established themselves in London as merchants, traders and financiers. Several members of the family were friends of the diarist Samuel Pepys and one, Sir John Houblon became the first Governor of the Bank of England when it was founded in 1694. He is depicted on the back of the recently changed English £50 note. In 1731 the Houblons left the city of London when they purchased the large house of Hallingbury Place.

When John inherited Welford in 1800 he was already living at Hallingbury and so Welford was rented to tenants. In 1831 came the opportunity for a second son to adopt the name Eyre because John’s elder son inherited Hallingbury and the second son Charles took the name Eyre and inherited Welford.  Charles Eyre presided over many changes at Welford. He enlarged and improved the layout of the house and grounds. He altered the course of the main road and constructed the front drive and entrance gates. He adorned the gates and another one with the spurred boot made of wrought iron. This is the crest of the Eyre family.  The origin of the crest is that an ancestor whilst fighting in battle lost his sword.  Needing something to defend himself he grabbed the nearest weapon that he could find that turned out to be the severed and booted leg of a dead colleague. With this he successfully defended himself and lived to tell the tale.

In the following generation there was again only one male heir and this was Charles’ son George.  He inherited Welford first but in 1891 on the death of his childless uncle he inherited Hallingbury too. On this date he moved from Welford to Hallingbury and took the name Archer Houblon. Again Welford was let to tenants, and during the First World War the house became a convalescent home under the care of Lady Wantage who was George’s great aunt by marriage.

By the end of the war George’s son Henry had inherited both houses and Culverthorpe too. He was a confirmed bachelor and decided that he did not need three large houses so he sold Hallingbury and Culverthorpe and resided at Welford mainly because it was the smallest of the three. In 1954 he died and again there was a lack of male heirs. He left Welford to the daughter of his sister. This was Aline who had married John Puxley in 1947. Aline and John resided at Welford until 1997 when she gifted the house to her son James who currently lives in the house with his wife and a son and a daughter.

 

Descents of the Manor of Welford From earliest times:

The monks of Abingdon until 1536.

1536–1546

King Henry V111

1546–1618

Sir Thomas Parry and his son, also Sir Thomas Parry

1618–1622

Sir Francis Jones. (Purchased Welford from Sir Thomas Parry)

1622–1628

Abraham Jones, his son

1628–1664

Richard Jones, his son

1664–1702

Mary Archer (nee Jones, married John Archer), his daughter

1702–1706

John Archer, her husband

1706–1739

William Eyre (changed his name to Archer), the husband of his sister’s daughter

1739–1800

John Archer, his son

1800–1831

John Houblon (changed name to Archer Houblon), his grandson (the son of his daughter)

1831–1886

Charles Archer Houblon (changed his name to Eyre), his second son

1886–1913

George Eyre (changed name to Archer Houblon), his son

1913–1954

Henry Archer Houblon, his son

1954–1997

Aline Puxley (nee Wilson, married John Puxley), the daughter of his sister Sybil

1997–

James Puxley, her son