Noake's Worcestershire Page 175



CLASSIC ground indeed, which Pope and Shenstone, Thompson and Gray, delighted to honour, and where for more than two centuries the much older and highly distinguished family of Lyttelton have fixed their habitat. In Saxon days Hagley was held by Godric, a thane or nobleman. In Doomsday, William Fitz-Ansculf is registered as the proprietor. The sons of Ansculf were succeeded by the names of Paganel, Somery, Botetourt, De Hagley, Boteler, Stafford, the Crown, the monks of Westminster, Ormond, and in 1564 it was sold to Sir John Lyttelton of Frankley, whose successors have held it to this day. The old hall at Hagley, which was taken down in the year 1760, was a timber structure, of which drawings are still preserved, and contained some peculiarities, such as an over-hanging gable at the S.E. angle and continuous ranges of window-lights close under the ceilings. Here was the scene of the concealment and discovery of two of the Gunpowder Plot conspirators - Robert Winter and Stephen Lyttelton, being betrayed by an under-cook, who got an annuity for his pains. Humphrey Lyttelton, who assisted in concealing them, obtained his respite by impeaching those who had hid themselves at Hindlip. The present house was erected by the first Lord Lyttelton, a century ago. It is a stately, classic, square, stone building, not half so picturesque or so much in harmony with its beautiful surroundings as its predecessor. Standing alone in the open park, entirely unconnected with gardens or offices of any kind, it has the appearance of a public edifice rather than a private residence. There are, however, some fine rooms in the interior, stored with valuable books, paintings, and other works of art. An old carved oak chimney-piece in one of the rooms is all that remains of the old house.