Skip to main content

Lees-Milne family of Wickhamford Manor

The Lees-Milne family lived at Wickhamford Manor during the early twentieth century. James Lees-Milne (1908 - 1997) was a writer with a special interest in historic houses. From 1936 to 1950 he worked for the National Trust and played a key role in the first large-scale transfer of country houses from private ownership to the National Trust.

This collection of pictures was kindly lent to us by Simon Lees-Milne and by June and Jeremy Ryan-Bell.

This is the rear of the Manor pretty much as it was when George Lees-Milne bought it in 1906 (the picture is said to be from around 1912). There are only two gables at this stage.

This is the rear of the Manor pretty much as it was when George Lees-Milne bought it in 1906 (the picture is said to be from around 1912). There are only two gables at this stage.
Wickhamford Manor, Spring 1927 by James Barraclough. Note the change in pattern on the right hand gable which is said to have happened in 1923. A photograph taken in 1925 shows a similar appearance.

Wickhamford Manor, Spring 1927 by James Barraclough. Note the change in pattern on the right hand gable which is said to have happened in 1923. A photograph taken in 1925 shows a similar appearance.
Oil painting of the sunken garden by Violet Lindsell. This probably dates from the 1930s. It shows the house with three gables, which is still has today as can be seen from this photograph taken in 2010.

Oil painting of the sunken garden by Violet Lindsell. This probably dates from the 1930s. It shows the house with three gables, which is still has today as can be seen from this photograph taken in 2010.
Pencil drawing of the front of the Manor - date/artist unknown.

Pencil drawing of the front of the Manor - date/artist unknown.
George Lees-Milne (1880-1949) in Hussar's uniform (before he lost his eye). His military service was in the Cheshire Yeomanry from 1901-1905. Yeomanry Regiments had uniforms based on regular cavalry design, usually Hussars but sometimes Lancers or Dragoons.

George Lees-Milne (1880-1949) in Hussar's uniform (before he lost his eye). His military service was in the Cheshire Yeomanry from 1901-1905. Yeomanry Regiments had uniforms based on regular cavalry design, usually Hussars but sometimes Lancers or Dragoons.
George Lees-Milne (1880-1949) as head of the Evesham Home Guard, 1940.

George Lees-Milne (1880-1949) as head of the Evesham Home Guard, 1940.
George Lees-Milne's left hand, by his brother Alec. Röntgen discovered X rays in in 1895 so this 1898 picture is a very early example.

George Lees-Milne's left hand, by his brother Alec. Röntgen discovered X rays in in 1895 so this 1898 picture is a very early example.
Helen Lees-Milne. (1884-1962). The daughter of Henry and Christina Bailey she married George Lees-Milne in 1904.

Helen Lees-Milne. (1884-1962). The daughter of Henry and Christina Bailey she married George Lees-Milne in 1904.
Robert Bailey. (1882-1917). The brother of Helen Lees-Milne, he died of wounds in Cairo, sustained in the storming of Jerusalem in 1917. He is commemorated on the War Memorial and in a dedicated tablet in Wickhamford Church.

Robert Bailey. (1882-1917). The brother of Helen Lees-Milne, he died of wounds in Cairo, sustained in the storming of Jerusalem in 1917. He is commemorated on the War Memorial and in a dedicated tablet in Wickhamford Church.
James Lees-Milne pre-WW1

James Lees-Milne pre-WW1.
Richard Lees-Milne pre-WW1

Richard Lees-Milne pre-WW1.
Richard Lees-Milne in Army, WW2

Richard Lees-Milne in Army, WW2.
An elderly Helen Lees-Milne taken in the late 50s or early 60s (she died in 1962).

An elderly Helen Lees-Milne taken in the late 50s or early 60s (she died in 1962).
Richard Lees-Milne behind the flooded Hody's Place - 11th July 1968.

Richard Lees-Milne behind the flooded Hody's Place - 11th July 1968.
Norris Haines (1889-1974) was chauffeur, as well as gardener and handyman, to George Lees-Milne. After the Manor was sold he continued to work for the Lees-Milne family in Hody's place in Manor Road. The picture is probably from the 1920s or 1930s. Here is an article about Norris Haines.

Norris Haines (1889-1974) was chauffeur, as well as gardener and handyman, to George Lees-Milne. After the Manor was sold he continued to work for the Lees-Milne family in Hody's place in Manor Road. The picture is probably from the 1920s or 1930s. Here is an article about Norris Haines.

There is a document granting the Manor to Thomas Throckmorton by Elizabeth I. It is dated 1562. A detail shows the signature of Elizabeth I to the right of the bottom line.


These next three photographs were kindly lent to us by John Pethard, whose mother, Elizabeth Johnson, is identified in the staff photograph below.

Five female staff at the Manor.

Five female staff at the Manor. Domestic staff in the garden of Wickhamford Manor, ca 1913. In the back on the right is Elizabeth Johnson. Other names are unknown, but those at the Manor in 1911 were Annie Helen Shaw-Sands, the housekeeper; Rachel Severn, the parlour maid; Sarah Elizabeth Harrison, the nurse and Elsie Mary Hardiman, the under-nurse. Some of these may be in this picture.
Three children in Manor Garden. The Lees-Milne children - Audrey, Richard & James - in the garden of Wickhamford Manor, 1913

Three children in Manor Garden. The Lees-Milne children - Audrey, Richard & James - in the garden of Wickhamford Manor, 1913.
The hunt. The hunt meeting in front of Wickhamford Manor, with the church in the background, probably photographed between the wars.

The hunt. The hunt meeting in front of Wickhamford Manor, with the church in the background, probably photographed between the wars.

A photo outside the Manor on the Wedding Day of Audrey Lees-Milne to Matthew Arthur in 1931.

A photo outside the Manor on the Wedding Day of Audrey Lees-Milne to Matthew Arthur in 1931.
A small group at the Manor, probably in the 1920s.

A small group at the Manor, probably in the 1920s. The lady on the left is Margaret Careless (later Ockwell) who was a cook there. The sailor is Reginald Knight, and on the right is his sister, Gwendoline Vera Knight (known as 'Vera'). These two pictures were kindly lent by Mary Richmond.

This is William Skene Ross, the gardener at the Manor in the early 1920s, pictured in the glasshouse there.

This is William Skene Ross, the gardener at the Manor in the early 1920s, pictured in the glasshouse there. There are more details of his life and his tragic death from poisoning in the article Wickhamford tragedies.

The next photos date from the late 1920s and early 1930s. They were kindly lent to us by Ivor Martin who is the son of Vera Knight. Vera appears in the picture above and also in this one showing her paddling in the ornamental pond in the sunken garden.

Vera Knight paddling in the ornamental pond in the sunken garden.

 
Esther sitting by the sunken garden pond.

 
Esther sitting by the sunken garden pond.

These two photos are of a lady called Esther, on the lake and sitting by the sunken garden pond.
A group of staff, by a shooting brake, who accompanied the Lees-Milne family on a holiday in Scotland in 1932. They are (left to right) K. Powell, M. Shepherd, W. Price and Vera Knight.

A group of staff, by a shooting brake, who accompanied the Lees-Milne family on a holiday in Scotland in 1932. They are (left to right) K. Powell, M. Shepherd, W. Price and Vera Knight.

lm_2636.jpglm_2622.jpglm_2634.jpg

Three more views - click on the images to enlarge them.


lm_2650.jpglm_2648.jpg

A picture of the Manor, pre 1907, taken from a book with a history of the Sandys family- click on the images to enlarge them.

There is an official James Lees-Milne website, created by his literary executor, which gives some details of his life and books.


See also