A history of the house in the park from all angles
YOU could call Wordsley Manor House an enigma, a building of mystery that hides behind a shield of trees for most of the year only to reveal itself from the main road after the leaves have laid the branches bare.
For those willing to step off the beaten track and take a closer look at the glorious image of this Grade II listed 18th century Georgian masterpiece, the experience can be very rewarding. It is of course still someone’s home and they deserve their privacy, but you can still get close enough to admire the house in the park, as it is often called, without upsetting folk. It is worth the effort as turning the corner of the former driveway reveals a wonderful surprise. Alternatively you can stand on tip-toe on the nearby canal towpath and peer over the hedge to see the house in all its glory.
These days it stands at the centre of one and a half acres of land, but in years gone by fields and open spaces would have stretched as far as the eye could see. The aerial view at the bottom of the page shows just how much housing development has nibbled away at the grounds comparing it with a section of an OS Map dated 1901, where the manor called Wordsley House has only the old Wordsley Flint Glass Works as a structural neighbour.
The architectural jewel in the crown in Wordsley is the Red House Glass Cone which was built circa 1790, standing proudly as it does cushioning the Stourbridge Canal on the main A491 Stourbridge to Wolverhampton road. But Wordsley Manor House is at least thirty years older than this iconic industrial structure. It is also older than the canal which was cut in the late 1770s. The navvies who were employed to build the canal would have had the Manor House in their sights as they dug down deep. It must have appeared in a relatively pristine condition, the trees as small saplings, and the gardens neatly laid out both at the front and the rear.
The Manor house is said to have been built in the year 1757 and initially was the home of a very successful businessman and industrialist John Holt. 1757 wasn’t a particularly notable year in history, although it did come withins the period of the Seven Years’ War, a global conflict fought between 1756 and 1763 which has been dubbed World War Zero. King George II was enjoying his thirtieth year on the throne, and in terms of famous people who were born in that year Thomas Telford the British Engineer and the poet William Blake are probably the most notable.
After the Holt family had vacated the premises it was occupied by William Foster, brother of ironmaster James Foster, followed by William Rolinson Hodgetts, glassmaster of the Red House Glassworks. Upon his death in 1845 ownership passed to his daughter Alice Mary Hodgetts who married ironmaster Henry Longville Firmstone in 1866. The Manor House has been in the Firmstone family ever since.
Wordsley Manor House has a direct connection with many of the industries that made the Black Country great and is undoubtedly an important edifice that deserves prominence in the overall historical tapestry of the area, whichever way you look at it.
The magnificent Georgian facade of Wordsley Manor built in 1757
Aerial shot showing the Manor House surrounded by modern housing
Old map of Wordsley Manor House and surrounding park land circa 1901
Wordsley Manor in harmony with a Stourbridge Canal lock
Two interior views of of Wordsley Manor circa 2017
In the winter the Manor can be seen from the main road