Severn Manor - Oakhampton House
Built in the 1830s on the grounds of a prior country Manor that we know little about. The Manor was extensively remodelled in the 1870s to include the amazing carved oak you can still enjoy today.
The woodwork was completed by Foster & Co renowned artisans who also completed works on the Castle at Balmoral for Queen Victoria no less over a similar timescale.
The site was the family seat of the crane family since the late 15 century. At some point Laundy Cottage was added now known as Grooms Cottage.The hosue was once part of a wealth working farm estate.
To discover the previous owners of Oakhampton House, we don't need to wade throughthrough musty old deeds, the evidence is right there, carved into the walls!Making the detective work even simpler ,the estate's long established links with the Crane family.
Since 1463 they have been Lords of the Manor of High and Low Abberley.The Crane family were Royalists. In 1642 Sir Richard Crane was knighted.
Oakhampton House stands on the site of an ancient settlement. The estate was bought in 1827 by Henry Crane who started to build the present house a year later. In the alte 1870s he took the opportunity to update the property when he married Jane Miriam Havergal.
She is the daughter of writer William Henry Havergal. Her sister was Frances Ridley Havergal, another famous hymn writer and both their portraits were hung in the Breakfast room.
As a wedding present William Henry presented the couple with a wellingtonia, one of the earliest in the country, which is planted in the grounds.
Major John Henry Crane, who was High Sheriff of Worcestershire in 1888, wed Annie Georgina Washington-Turner after they met at Shanklin on the Isle of White and enjoyed a whirlwind romance.
The Crane family were disapproving, despite her impeccable background.George Washington, her father, was the Attorney General of the state of Missisippi.
The gable of the new wing and the carved woodwork inside were adorned with the coat of arms of Crane and Washington Turner.
The new wing makes for a very interesting architectural feature with the staircase built around the old and new areas.
The carved woodwork was done by Forsyth, who was responsible for similar work at Witley Court for the Earl of Dudley and at Balmoral for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
They had two children, Captain John Henry Godfrey Crane, who sadly died of Blackwater fever at Accra on the Gold Coast, and Joyce Marrianne Poyntel Crane, great grandmother of the present Lord of the Manor of Habberley.
Sadly the Crane marriage did not last. War called the Major, in his absence Annie converted to Roman Catholicism, built a chapel in the grounds and installed a priest. When he discovered this upon his return, the furious major had the chapel knocked down, the priest thrown out and his marriage dissolved!He died at Oakhampton in 1932. Annie died in Geneva 1945.
The Grade II listed building is a clean classic design, with decorative splashes made by the carvings of the Crane family crest and coat of arms beneath the gables. There is also a pretty wrought iron verandah at the back of the house.
Surrounded by a horseshoe of hills and woodland, with the Cotswolds to the south-west, the Forest of Arden to the north and the Malvern Hills to the west, Worcestershire is one of England’s most idyllic counties. Who remembers now that it was once part of an area known as the Cockpit of England for the many bloody battles fought across its land, including the skirmish at Powick Bridge that started the Civil War and the Battle of Worcester, which ended it nine years later with the rout of the Royalists by Cromwell’s Ironsides?
It is rumoured that the occupants of the previous Manor on the same site were all executed by musket 0n the back lawn of the estate!
The Crane and Washington coats of arms appear on the gable of the new wing and in the intricate interior woodwork carved by Forsyth, who worked for the Earl of Dudley at Witley Park. The panelling in the drawing room was taken from a Flemish château. A magnificent Wellingtonia in the park, one of the first to be planted in England, was a wedding present from William Havergal, and a splendid cedar of Lebanon features in the carvings of the hall-room fireplace, based on themes that reflect the family’s sporting life.
Unrecorded, in wood at least, was the stormy outcome of Maj John Henry Crane’s marriage.