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Lost Houses of Derbyshire The Hough, Hulland

Lost Houses of Derbyshire The Hough, Hulland

by Maxwell Craven

The standing remains of the moated secondary seat of the de Bradbourne family no longer exist for me to share with you, but, like Brizlincote Old Hall, the site is marked by a well-preserved moat, and moated sites are relatively rare in Derbyshire, although many more are recorded in the sources than survive. The site lies east of Brunswood Lane and south of the A517 at Hulland; the well-preserved moat measures 150 by 125 feet (45.7 x 38 m) and includes traces of the abutments of a bridge, although much less well preserved and far less discernable than that at Bearwardcote (see Country Images for August 2014). 

The name Hough has two old English derivations: either from hoh = ‘spur of a hill’ or from haga = ‘enclosure’. As The Hough is not in the spur of a hill, but in the valley by the immature Brailsford Brook, the latter derivation is probably the correct one, especially as the entire area north of the Ashbourne Road is full of ancient hunting parks.

Hulland was owned by the aristocratic Danish settler Toki in 1066, along with much else in the area, but it was granted, as a manor which included Ednaston, before 1086 to Geoffrey Alselin. It descended in his family with Ockbrook, to the Bardolphs (as in Stoke Bardolph in Nottinghamshire) who seem to have had a seat there but who sold The Hough estate before 1250 to Sir Robert de Ashbourn of Ashbourne. He founded a chantry in a domestic chapel previously added to the building (which at that date would undoubtedly have been of timber). His heirs eventually sold the estate to Sir Roger de Bradbourne of Bradbourne, some time before 1296 

This family descended from Gerard de Bradbourne, a follower of the de Ferrers Earls of Derby, who had been granted the tenancy of Bradbourne before about 1150 and his descendant, the  Sir Roger who acquired the estate, soon afterwards built a house here. His first effort was fashionably moated and may well have been of timber, as was the norm in those days, but at some unknown date – probably around 1451, it was replaced by one of brick and stone, the builder being John Bradbourne, the first of the family to be specifically referred to as ‘of The Hough’. 

Previously, the junior branch of the family had been settled there, descendants of Sir Roger’s third son, another Roger, whose line ended with an eldest son, Henry. He came to a sticky end, having been executed at Pontefract in March 1322 for joining the rebellion of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster (who was also Earl of Derby), ignominiously defeated at the Battle of Boroughbridge. This was part of the long-running civil war waged between Edward II and various, really quite disparate elements, opposed to the King’s choice infelicitous of advisers. In this case it was the appointment, following the defeat at Bannockburn, of the Despenser family, which enraged the powerful Mortimer clan and, in due course, put out of joint the nose of Earl Thomas, too, for he had been in control of policy since the clear-out of advisers following the defeat by the Scots in 1314.

John Borrowe’s late 17th century Hulland Old Hall, north front with the earlier (or re-constructed) portion to the left

In the event, the much under-rated Edward II pursued a policy of dividing his opponents; he first disposed (temporarily as it turned out) of the Mortimers in a crushing defeat early in 1322, before turning his attention to Thomas of Lancaster. Unfortunately for the heir of the Bradbournes, Henry ended up on the wrong side!

The Bradbourne dynasty, despite this setback, went on from strength to strength. Having rebuilt the house in stone, in 1463, John Bradbourne founded another chantry in the domestic chapel attached to the manor house (in manerio meo de Holendo – ‘in my manor of Hulland’), dedicated to Our Lady, which managed to survive the Reformation, when it became a chapel-of-ease of the parish of Ashbourne but, by the early 18th century it was ‘little used’ and indeed was completely gone by 1750 or thereabouts.  

The estate, with Lea Hall (see last month’s Country Images) and other nearby property, was inherited by William Bradbourne, on the death of his father Sir Humphrey in 1581. In 1594, however, beset by debts and childless, William sold it all to his brother-in-law, Humphrey Ferrers, who lived on the Bradbournes’ wider estate on a property at Boylestone, inherited from the Waldeschef family, whilst his father was alive and himself occupying the family seat at Tamworth Castle. This is despite William having a brother, Anthony, who was a prosperous London merchant with three sons; what happened to them and whether they had any descendants is not clear. Indeed, despite several other junior branches of the family, the Bradbourne name seems to die out at this juncture altogether.

Humphrey Ferrers later inherited Tamworth Castle from his father and was knighted, but his son John (died 1633) lived at Lea Hall and consequently from this time the old house at The Hough appears to have been left empty; indeed it could well be that the Civil War accounted for its eventual destruction. Certainly, the Ferrers family were left in much reduced circumstances after the Restoration – the price of loyalty to the Crown – and in 1690 they sold the estate to the up-and-coming John Borowe of Castlefields, Derby a Nottingham-born former soap boiler.

Both William Woolley and Dr. Pegge make clear that by then (the end of the 17th century)  the house at The Hough had become a quarry for the convenience of any scavenging old villager wanting to effect an inexpensive home makeover, although Woolley adds that Hulland Old Hall, nearby, was ‘built out of the ruines’ of the Bradbournes’ old house by John Borowe.

Examination of the earliest portion of the Old Hall house, which John Borowe had built in the village rather than out at Hough Park, certainly might suggest that portions – or perhaps merely materials – from the old mansion were used in his house’s construction. The range attached to the NE angle certainly looks a good deal earlier, with its bulky quoins, blocked or modernised two light stone mullioned windows, coped gables and ball finials. Yet this could just as easily have been part of an entirely separate earlier structure on the site incorporated into the new house. Nevertheless, the thinness of the much of the brickwork throughout suggests that it certainly could be Tudor material re-used.

Having allegedly quarried the ‘ruines’, however, John Borowe – the family later changed the spelling of their name to Borough – sold The Hough portion of his estate in 1701 to Robert Dale of Parwich, whose descendants still owned it 115 years later, splitting the park into two farms which still remain. When the last of the Dales died in the 1860s, the 200 acre estate that included the Hough – by now usually referred to as Hough Park – was sold to a tenant, William Harlow. Even then, the moat was still apparently well maintained and filled with water.  

Indeed, by this approximate date the vanished chapel was replaced on a new site by the present parish church, built in 1837-38 to the designs of Derby architect John Mason (1784-1847). Today all that remains of The Hough are the distinct traces of the moat, now protected by  its status as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.


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