Walcot as a place-name is thought to be Saxon in origin, derived from Wald – a forest, and Cote – a dwelling place. This aptly describes the property which is surrounded by a vast amphitheater of hills and is set on the edge of the Clun forest.
In the five hundred years or more that Walcot has been around it has provided the most wonderful and unique setting for four families: The Walcots, the Clives (Powis’), the Stevens and the Woodbine Parishes.
Walcot was originally a timber built framed house built in the 1400′s which was given to the family for pleasing the King. However after being given such a privilege the family gambled all their riches away and therefore had to sell Walcot.
“Old Walcot” was a gabled three-story house of Elizabethan design with a two-story block behind backing on gabled stables; surrounded on three sides by an extensive deer park at the time of Clive’s purchase of the estate in 1764 from Charles Walcot who was persuaded into the sale by the ignoble and extravagant uncle-Sir Francis “Hellfire” Dashwood.
Walcot remained within the Clive family for nearly 200 years. In the final years Walcot was ran by Clives son Edward who married the heiress of the last Herbert earl of Powis and became and earl himself in 1804 under a new creation. He possessed Walcot for 65years and added the ballroom wing (discussed below) he also built a three-storey tower which was later removed to make the house up to date for modern requirements. He also erected between the ballroom and stables a series of hot houses along the curving wall between the east front and the stables which was home to a glorious orangery.
After the death of the last Clive of Walcot due to tragic war duties in World War One and Two and with no heirs remaining Walcot was put up for sale or demolition.
Luckily for us all today the Stevens family bought the estate in 1933 The Stevens brothers during their twenty five years had Walcot completely rehabilitated. They employed Sir Williams Chambers and the excellent firm of A.T and Bertram Butler thanks to their father who made a vast fortune in Judge enamelware. It has been said that Walcot was bought for his two sons so they could be introduced into society and therefore made into gentlemen.
The Stevens created a unique bird sanctuary providing a seven mile fox proof fence. This was twelve foot high to protect the birds, Chinese water deer, wallabies from Australia and numerous other exotic species.
In 1956 the Woodbine Parishes bought Walcot from the Stevens and are still here till the present day.
The gardens at Walcot Hall cover over 30 acres, including one of the finest Arboretums in Britain with a rich profusion of tree, shrub and herbaceous plantings.
The great lakes that stretch for over a mile and a half were built after the Battle of Waterloo by prisoners of war from Napoleons grand arm. It has been calculated that French prisoners had dug more in volume than was used to build the great Pyramid of Giza.
Different trees are ever being added and amongst the notable specimens is a huge Douglas Fir, planted by Lord Powis in 1842 and once one of the largest trees of its kind in Britain.
The glorious ballroom was built by Lord Clive’s son to contain a superb carpet (45ft by 18ft) he had been presented while Governor of Madras. The carpet was evidently one of the finest in the world as the passage below shows the purchase from Harrods, London on 22nd July 1929.
An extract from Sir John Malcolm whom ordered the carpet on behalf of the Earl of Powis , dated 4th October 1819
“I have heard from Bombay of the arrival of the wonderful carpet. Captain Bruce writes me from Abusheher that Lord Powis’ carpet has arrived,…it exceeds even my expectation, it is in fact the most superb that ever was manufactured …He may, when it reaches him.boast of having the finest and richest carpet in Europe”
The magnificent carpet was sold by Lord Powis as a result of devastating death duties incurred through the loss of his sons in the First and Second World Wars. He was forced to sell Walcot. Two swarthy gentlemen at the sale in the Ballroom bought the carpet for the Government of Azerbaijan