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The Dower House, Quorn - A brief history

Numbers 5 and 6 Dower House Gardens were once just one house. A summary of its long history has been provided for Quorn Village On-line Museum by Ivan Bexon.

The Early Days
Robert de Farnham was granted lands in 'Querendon' from the estate of the Earls of Arundel in about 1260, and the Farnham family has had a presence in Quorn ever since. The first dwelling on the site was probably in the 14th century and some interior parts of the present building date from the 17th century.

It belonged to the Over Hall (Quorn House) branch of the Farnhams who used it as a dower house [from dowager - the widowed mother of the male head of the family]. In a deed in 1588 Matthew Farnham settled the house and “that one close commonlie cauled Stafford Orchard” on his widow for ‘dower’ and in 1669 the house was part of a settlement by Edward Farnham on his son Edward and daughter-in-law Mary (née Chaveney from Chaveney's House). Their eldest daughter, Mary Farnham, born in 1671, married Francis Corfield of Prescott, Shropshire in 1697 and they lived in the house. In 1702 Corfield described it as being 'very old and in bad repair' but as a tenant he may have wanted to make it seem to be in a worse condition than it actually was! Mary bore seven children in the house between 1698 and 1712, although it seems that only one, a daughter, survived to maturity.

Later Changes
Over the centuries the house has changed. An extension at the western end was added in Victorian times, becoming the front of a much-enlarged house. In the 1870’s it was known as ‘The Elms’, having a number of fine specimens in the grounds, and was a Boarding School for girls, run by Mrs Leeds (nee Fowke). Although an 1884 Ordnance Survey map shows the building as 'Orchard House', a photograph taken in 1916 still bears the name ‘The Elms’. Alfred Sault lived in the house from the 1890s to approx. 1906 and ran a livery stable from which horses and cabs could be hired. There were cobbled courtyards and carriage blocks, and stables opened on to what is now Station Road. Mr Sault was also the landlord of the White Horse public house in the Cross.

After the Farnhams
The house was eventually sold by the Farnhams; according to Rev Kelcey writing in the Quorn Parish Magazine in July 1908, this was about 1893/94, and must have been as a result of William Farnham's bankruptcy. Alfred Ernest Tyler (known as Ernest), a son of the Tylers of Cossington Hall, occupied the house after the Saults, for many years from about 1906. His wife Ruby was a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (the suffragettes) and hosted meetings in the drawing room. Ernest was a well-known breeder of wire terriers in the old stables. In World War II, the house was purchased by Loughborough Colleges for use as a student hostel. Accommodation blocks were built and the former stables and kennels were used as garages. In 1968 the whole site was sold for redevelopment, almost resulting in the house being demolished. Fortunately, it was rescued at the 11th hour and extensively rebuilt, restoring the square, timber-framed appearance of the early house and the Victorian character of the extension. It is now two houses, the older part retaining the name 'The Dower House', reflecting its early history. Modern houses occupy the grounds of the earlier house and the adjacent Stafford Orchard has been a public park since the 1920’s.

The oldest surviving parts of the present house are oak beams and an ingle nook fireplace. The house is said to have a ghost, reportedly an elegant lady in a hooded cloak, but all has been quiet for a long time.

The photograph shows the Dower House in 1961.Part of the Loughborough Colleges' extension can be seen on the far right.

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 Submitted on: 2015-06-01
 Submitted by: History by Ivan Bexon, photograph from Roy Green
 Artefact ID: 1889
 Artefact URL: www.quornmuseum.com/display.php?id=1889
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page or just on its own (new browser tab).

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