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Billington Manor

Billington Manor seen from the church January 2009
Billington Manor seen from the church January 2009

Billington Manor was built by Arthur Macnamara in the second half of the 19th century. It may well be on the site of the medieval manor as it is associated with an L-shaped moat, one arm of which was filled in when the new house was built.

Arthur Macnamara died in 1906 and his wife, Lady Sophia continued to live in the house until 1909 when she leased it to Captain Gilliat [BML7/2/6]. An inventory of household furniture, china, glass, fittings and effects made in 1909 [BML7/2/8] is useful in giving an idea of the rooms. These are listed as below:

  • First Floor: Green Bedroom; Rookery Walk Bedroom; W. C.; Small Landing; Blue Bedroom; adjoining dressing room; Pink Bedroom; adjoining dressing room; adjoining bathroom; separate bathroom; Adjoining W. C.; Landing; Servants’ W. C.; four adjoining servants’ bedrooms; housemaid’s cupboard and W. C.; adjoining servant’s bedroom; back stairs  
  • Ground Floor: Drawing room; inner hall; vestibule and W. C.; morning room; hall; dining room; lobby; housekeeper’s room; pantry; servants’ hall; pump house; kitchen; scullery; valet’s room; knife room; kitchen yard;
  • Basement;
  • Outside: brush room; coal house; fruit house; open shed; gas house; tool houses; stable yard; grooms’ rooms; room adjoining; hay loft; harness room; pump house; harness room; carriage room; wood yard.

Captain Gilliat bought the manor from Lady Sophia in 1910 [BML7/2/14]. Either he did not live there very long or he rented the place out because Kelly’s Directory for 1914 gives the occupier as Hugh Bulkeley Price Brock and the directory of 1920 as Sir Richard Ashmole Cooper, Bart, M. P. (he was member of parliament for Walsall from 1910 to 1922).

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. Billington, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927. The valuer visiting Billington Manor found that it was now owned and occupied by Major Leigh Pemberton Steddall DSO.

Sadly, the property is not detailed, as would be the case for most substantial properties, but merely summarised as comprising: an outer hall; an inner hall; five reception rooms; a conservatory; a verandah; a kitchen; a scullery; a servants’ hall and a pantry downstairs. Upstairs were four single bedrooms, two double bedrooms, a school room and addressing room. There were also three maids’ bedrooms, a double bedroom, four W. Cs and two bathrooms. There was also a basement containing a larder and two cellars. The valuer remarked: “A very disappointing house inside, quite nice grounds. Good stables”. These stables are now [2013] three separate private dwellings, The Bays, Palfreys and The Chestnuts.

It is curious that in 1901-1902 the owner of Billington Manor, Arthur Macnamara was High Sheriff of Bedfordshire [HS/App51]. Exactly fifty years later another owner, Major Leigh Pemberton Steddall had his year as High Sheriff [HS/App101].