Updated 16 Mar 2006
WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900
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Taken 2005. Hopewell House Front View #1.
David Baker also writes:
* The spelling of Lawrence's name changes between censuses as does that of his wife in the 1901 Census return. See Appendix 2 below for a fuller list of the important local Wildgoose's of the period.
Wildgoose's initials "LTW" are beautifully intertwined in foot high letters under the 1889 date stone above the main entrance to Hopewell House. It is likely that as a master stone mason by training he carved these letters himself.
Lawrence Thomas Wildgoose was a member of the family famous for founding the Wildgoose building company, which still exists in Derbyshire as a multi-million pound construction business, and for providing generations of contributors to the local politics and the administration of the town. John William Wildgoose (see Appendix 1 below) was, like Lawrence Thomas, a Stonemason and became the Founder of Wildgoose Construction. He also lived in Wellington Street, and later Holmebank, Matlock. He was heavily involved in local affairs and erected the War Memorial in Matlock at a cost of £500 and unveiled on 13th. August 1921. He died in 1934 aged 73.
The Wildgoose name is rare and largely local to the Matlock and Derbyshire area. Aside from the well known civil engineering side of the family, they have provided solicitors and elected local council officials over several generations in the town.
There was a remarkable concentration of builder/stonemason and other Wildgooses in Wellington Street and surrounding area at the turn of the century, including: Lawrence Thomas Wildgoose - 24 Bank Road –Builder/Contractor/plumber/painter -as advertised in Kelly's Directory in 1891 (and the Builder of Hopewell House); John William Wildgoose - 51 Wellington Street - (Builder/Contractor/Quarry Owner - founder of Wildgoose Construction Company.); Davis M. Wildgoose - 54 Wellington Street - Foreman Stone Mason. George Wildgoose - 49 Church Street - Millwright. Frank H. Wildgoose - 2 Industrial Road - Plumber. [For a full list from 1841-1901 see Appendix 2 below]
Lawrence Thomas Wildgoose purchased the land to build Hopewell House from Richard Farnsworth by a deed of covenant on 4th January 1889, for one hundred and thirty five pounds and eighteen shillings, in order "to erect a messuage or dwelling house and other buildings thereupon." Hopewell House and two large stone outbuilding (builders workshops and stables for horses) was completed within the year given the date stone of 1889.
The only Farnsworth's registered in Matlock in the 1891 Census are George Farnsworth (aged 57 the head of family "living on his own means"), his wife Fanny (58), his son Leasone (33 - a soldier on furlough from South Africa), and James his brother (53 - also "living on his own means"). They also lived in Wellington Street (67), the same street in which the builder Wildgoose's lived and in which Hopewell House was built, which suggests that this could well be the family, especially as Mr Farnsworth and his brother were not recorded as having any profession, but rather each as "living on his own means".
In the original legal covenant of 1889 selling the land to Wildgoose, there are references to earlier deals within the Farnsworth family over this same parcel of land (known individually as House Close/Barn Close and Long Close/Wheat Stubble), which include the following references, including George and James Farnsworth’s names:
29th May 1846 from Thomas Leys to John Farnsworth. 9th May 1874 Richard Farnsworth, Anthony James Farnsworth, George Farnsworth, Charles Farnsworth and the wife of Joseph Smith and Esther Farnsworth, to the use of the said Richard Farnsworth. 9th May 1874 From Richard Farnsworth to the use of William Spencer. 30th January 1878. From William Spence to the use of the said Richard Farnsworth.
It is not likely that Thomas Wildgoose ever occupied his wonderful new town house, since he is registered at other addresses in both the 1891 and 1901 censuses. But as there is no census record for 1891 for 2 Wellington Street (or for 1 and 3-7) to verify this. What is clear is that by the 1901 census a William R. Swindell (a middle class "Stone Merchant" aged 42) was occupying the house with his wife Fanny aged 40, and six children, Mercy (13), Harold (10), May (7), Millicent (6), Fanny (3) and Arthur (10 months). In the 1891 Census William Swindell and his family were living at 59 Rutland St, Greenhill Terrace, Matlock, at which point he was listed as a "Stone cutter", so he has achieved a considerable betterment of himself in only ten years in coming to occupy the Victorian respectability of Hopewell House.
It appears likely that Wildgoose was either forced to rent the house and re-mortgage the property because of difficult times for his building business after 1889 and the need to raise capital (Hopewell House and its considerable workshop/stable outbuildings would, after all, have cost a great deal of capital to build to such a high quality), or that he built it as a speculative investment to sell or rent and had his initials carved on it so prominently it because he was proud of the quality of the workmanship throughout the house and wanted to advertise his abilities.
His reduction from the profession of Builder/Contractor to Stone Mason between the 1891 and 1901 censuses, and the loss of his live in servant in the household too, suggests that the former hypothesis may be correct and that the losses incurred on building Hopewell House and its extensive outbuildings could have ended, at least temporarily, his aspirations of running his own building/contracting business.
By 1915 Hopewell House and its outbuildings were in the hands of Liquidators, because the Crompton and Evans Union Bank which owned the land and buildings, had gone into voluntary liquidation. According to the agreement to sale drawn up by the Bank's liquidators in 1915, Lawrence Thomas Wildgoose had sold (or remortgaged) Hopewell House and its outbuildings to the Crompton and Evans Union Bank on 31st August 1891.
A Derby based Bank (Old Bank) acting as liquidators (in the persons of Robert Hugh Tennant and Matthew Attwood - "Bank manager") sold the house and outbuildings to the Matlock Bank Industrial and Provident Society (i.e. local CO-OP) on 28th September 1915.
Wildgoose received £1500 from the Bank in 1891 - the CO-OP paid only £1100 for it in 1915. The deeds for this offer the first record of the house under the name of "Hopewell House", but it most probably existed under this name from 1889, or shortly thereafter.
At that time the CO-OP acquired it (1915) Hopewell House is recorded as have resident within it the "Misses Radford" and Kelly's Directory for 1916, under "Matlock Private Residents" (meaning important people in Matlock) lists a John Radford as living in Hopewell House, perhaps they were his unmarried sisters, or his unmarried daughters having lost his wife.
Hopewell House was sold in 1915 as liquidated stock "together with the joineries and numerous workshops and other buildings in the occupation of Thomas Growden (or Gowden) Johnson" and "together with the Gaitsheds and other buildings in the occupation of the Society [clearly they had already rented some space on the property] erected on the four said parcels of land".
In May 1919 that the Matlock Bank Industrial Provident Society changed it name to Matlock and District Co-operative Society. Ironically the chairman of the first General meeting of the new CO-OP was one Bertie Farnsworth - probably a relation of the family which had owned the original land in the mid 19th century and who sold it to Wildgoose in 1889. The dealing surrounding Hopewell House and its ownership proved a very incestuous business. The CO-OP's registered offices remained as before in Smedley Street just below Hopewell House.
The CO-OP continued to occupy the whole site until it too went bankrupt in 1968, when the house and outbuildings passed back into the hands of private individuals. It has therefore been part of bankrupt stock twice in its 120 or so years of existence.
Hopewell House may, therefore, have been rented continuously since 1889, or used as a tied manager’s house after 1916, as there was a CO-OP hosiery factory in the outbuildings between the wars, according to locals, and the buildings were used to service milk floats and other CO-OP delivery vehicles in the 1950s and '60s. Various pieces of wood with the CO-OP’s logo on them were found by the owners in the loft during renovations in 2004-5.
There are plans (undated) which show that Hopewell House was going to be converted into two apartments by the CO-OP, although it is not clear if it was acted upon by the company since the actual conversion preserved the vestibule screen and had a different orientation for the downstairs bathroom from the plans left with the documents. However it is likely that it was the CO-OP that effected the conversion.
Fortunately, whoever did turn the property into two rented apartments, did not remove many of the period features in the conversion. Even though the beautiful stained glass inlaid inner vestibule screen in the lower Hall was moved, it was preserved by turning it around by 180 degrees to move the door to the opposite side and also moved a foot back towards the stairs (the floor tiles mark exactly where it used to stand). And a stud wall was built around one side of the main stair rail to allow entry to the upper apartment from the front door. Locals remember attending student parties in the house as at that time there was a college at the top of the road in a huge former Hydrotherapy building, converted into luxury apartments in 2004.
The new owners in 1968 were Arthur Cuthbert Woodhouse and his wife Lucy Jane Woodhouse, of 38 Jackson's Tor Road, Matlock. Ironically, the firm of solicitors which handled the conveyancing was Potter, Brooke Taylor and Wildgoose - most probably a descendent of the original builder and another example of the localised nature of business dealings in this small town.
Before the death of Arthur Woodhouse, on April 1st 1985, he and Lucy had moved into Hopewell House "Flats 1 and 2" (as the first ever owner occupiers perhaps) and on the 15th March 1986, Lucy Woodhouse sold Hopewell House to Stanley Graham Irving (a University lecturer) and his wife Pamela Helen Irving (a Sheffield Head Teacher) of West Lodge, Dale Road North, Darley Dale.
Pam and Stan, as they were known, are remembered affectionately by locals as complete eccentrics. At the time she resembled Cruella De Vil - of 101 Dalmatians fame - and he was an extremely pleasant person by all accounts. Her taste was extremely flamboyant and extrovert (lots of mixtures of pink, black and gold wallpaper and white rose motifs, and much of this remained when David and Su Baker bought Hopewell House in 1999).
The house owes much to Pam and Stan since it was they who reconverted it from two apartments into a single house in 1986-7. They also converted the two main cellars facing on to Hopewell Street into garages in 1986, spending around £4,000 and they had the badly wood-wormed windows replaced with more sympathetic than normal, and very high quality, UPVC double glazed windows in 1988, at a cost of a further £4,000 (by 2005 this would probably cost closer to £20,000 for the 19 panels involved - although the present owners would have preferred it if the original windows could have been saved).
The Irving's sold Hopewell House in 1993 to a local nurse, who in turn sold it to Dr David Baker (Warwick University Lecturer) and Mrs. Susan Baker (Stanton in Peak School Teacher) in December 1999.
Recognising from the outset the special quality of both the exterior stonework and period interior of this remarkable high Victorian Town House, David and Su Baker set about the major restoration of Hopewell House, spending around £90,000 on the project, and a huge amount of their own time and effort too.
By late 2005 they had brought this wonderful town house back to a condition something akin to when it was first completed by Wildgoose late in 1899, which had perhaps inspired him to carve his initials so prominently high on the frontage.
Hopewell House has, therefore, survived more than a hundred years of neglect, bankruptcy, conversion to apartments, and multiple rental occupation, to re-emerge as an extraordinary example of a stone built detached Town House/Villa of the high Victorian era.
Whoever owns this house is entrusted with looking after a very special building and whoever visits it will remember the experience.
Dr. David Baker Politics and International Studies (PAIS) University of Warwick CV4 7AL UK Tel: +44 (0) 2476 523112Have any more information about this subject? Please e-mail the webmaster on:
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