Local Delves Broughton family talk

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Audlem District History Society's guest speaker this month was Peter Denny from Wistaston who gave an entertaining talk on the local Delves Broughton family. The evening was packed with facts and interesting asides, giving details of their intermarriage with the Walthall and Hammond families.

Originally the Delves and the Broughtons were both from Staffordshire, and the first prominent Delves family member was John who acted as a squire at the battle of Poitiers for Edward the Black Prince. He bought Doddington, then a castle, with his reward money in 1352.

Later, in 1727, Sir Thomas Delves died leaving no male heir, so the land passed to his daughter( who was married to a Broughton) on condition that the Delves name was retained. In 1798 the new Doddington Hall was completed.

In 1822, General Sir John Delves Broughton founded the Delves Charity School in Wybunbury, and later the Chapel within the Doddington Estate. He built St. John's Church, Doddington in 1840.

By the early 1900s, the Delves Broughtons had holdings of over 35,000 acres in both Cheshire and Staffordshire. However, in 1911, the manor of Haslington which the family owned was put up for auction by Sir Louis, thereby splitting the estate.

This marked the beginning of the estate's decline, and by the time of Sir Jock Delves Broughton (he of "White Mischief" fame, who was a heavy drinker and gambler), over two-thirds of the estate was lost. Jock moved to Happy Valley. Kenya, where he was charged with murder though acquitted. He returned to England in 1942, but committed suicide in Liverpool soon afterwards.

Peter continued the story after WW2, when the Hall had been taken over by the U.S. army. After the war Sir Jock's son Evelyn spent the rest of his life trying to salvage & repair the damage done to the Hall and estate. He left no male heir when he died in 1993, and his third wife is now owner of the estate, which was home to Goudhurst College for girls for many years after the war.

A sad ending for a great estate, but a fascinating story.

AudlemOnline adds: The editor could not resist a photo of Greta Scacchi as Diana Broughton with Joss Ackland as Sir Henry "Jock" Delves Broughton from one of his favourite films 'White Mischief'.

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