A New Year Blog from John Ward the 2nd Viscount Dudley and Ward

“Being lord of the manor, at Christmas I provide a festive dinner for the estate workers, their families and our local vicar from St Michaels. For well over 30 years he’s made his way from the church across the lawn to join us, but this year totally blind to the approaching newly dug hole he just vanished! As luck would have it Parker my butler heard his cries and with the help of Bowen and a couple of horses managed somehow to drag him out. None the worse for his experience I noticed it didn’t stop him from helping himself to my after-dinner port and brandy, which he said was purely medicinal. Parker assured me he returned to the vicarage safely, I’m not convinced as I haven’t seen him for days. As they say, God moves in mysterious ways!

I felt OK when I got up on New Year’s day. It was not until I was in the bathroom did the celebrations of the night before really start to ‘kick-in’ and who was the bright spark who thought buying a magnifying mirror would make the ‘perfect gift’. I looked as though I’d just been dug up! Which reminds me ‘Cappo’ and his men have done a marvellous job of digging out the lake, though the vicar wouldn’t agree. It appears they have discovered large amounts of coal on my land. Now that’s got me thinking!

Still feeling rough I was going back to bed when Parker informed me that I had a visitor.

“I’m not seeing anyone today, tomorrow or the rest of the week for that matter, so tell whoever it is to push off”.

Before he had chance to do anything the doors flung open.

“Darling! it’s me HAPPY NEW YEAR”. It was him, Larry, the last person I wanted to see. “Just feast your eyes on what I’ve got for you”.

Opening up the large box that one of the servants carried in he revealed tins of paint and rolls and rolls of what looked like, well, paper.

“What’s all that lot for?” I said sharply.

“It’s your new wall covering darling, we call it wallpaper in the trade.”

“So what exactly do you do with it?” I enquired.

“You stick it on the walls of course, it’s so 19th century darling, and the magenta paint will work wonders in the dining room, not to mention the peacock blue in the loo”.

“WHAT! As far as I’m concerned you can take your wallpaper and all the paint right back to P&Q or wherever it was it came from … I’m having MAGNOLIA and that’s the end of it … Darling.”

The Facts in the Fiction

Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. 1716 – 1783,
Embarked on a series of developments to improve the estates 180 acres. The Great Pool was created by the construction of a large dam at the western end of the park and fed by a series of waterfalls from a higher chain of smaller pools. Brown also excavated and reshaped the grounds to accentuate the view of the new lake from the front of the Hall.

St Michaels and All Angels Church
Built in the Georgian style in 1763 and was once the family church to the seat of the Earl of Dudley. The Earl of Dudley decided to move the original church building to the current location away from the Hall when the congregation numbers began to increase. The site at the junction of the Wolverhampton Road and Himley Road was chosen and the new church was built, it was consecrated on September 28th 1763.

The main method used to produce wallpapers until well into the nineteenth century was Block Printing which gave a very high quality product. The size of pattern repeat was limited to the width of the paper and the weight of wood block that the printer could work with. The wallpaper was made up of 12 sheets of hand made paper pasted together to make strips long enough to go from the top to the bottom of the wall. Usually a blank margin was left along both edges of the paper to protect the paper from damage during transportation, which was trimmed off before the paper was hung.