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Huddington Court

Huddington is a hamlet belonging to the parish of Himbleton lying between five and six miles south east of Droitwich in Worcestershire. A 'Ton' or 'Tun' is a termination particle applied to a defended farmhouse encircled by a hedge, ditch or palisade and embracing the manor house or home of the chief of the tribe and the rustic dwellings of his Huss Carles or labourers on his estate. "Ing' means the tribe or dependants of the chief, defined as the whole population clustered around the village, and 'Hudda' is the personal or family name".

Therefore, Huddington means the defended village of Hudda, a Saxon warrior who settled there around AD 700.

Tradition has it that the manor house was built in 1340. Like most of the manors around Worcestershire it is a half-timbered black and white building, built with oak beams culled from nearby Feckenham Forest. Originally consisting of a gabled front with an imposing and well proportioned porch together with side wings. The chimneys are fluted and twisted with bricks omitted at regular intervals to allow the escape of smoke. Encircling the whole property was a moat and drawbridge.

The hamlet of Huddington first became home to the Wintour family during the reign of Edward I, when a loyal soldier of the Kings, entrusted with the running of Caernavon Castle, relinquished his custodianship in old age, and settled at Droitwich. The last of the family to reside there was Sir George Wintour, born in 1622, he married Frances Talbot, daughter of John Talbot, Tenth Earl of Shrewsbury, but when she died on 17 July 1641, he married Mary, eldest daughter of Lord Carrington. Mary died on 16 November 1642, probably in childbirth, leaving Sir George a widower for the second time before his 21st year. Both wives are buried under the chancel in Huddington Church.

The Wintour family lived at Huddington Court after the marriage of Roger Wintour to Joan Hodington toward the end of the 15th century, but after the death of Sir George it passed into the estates of the Earls of Shrewsbury until 1919 when it was purchased by Hubert Edmondson. Hubert's great-grandson is the present owner of the house.

The Gunpowder Plot Society was extremely lucky to be given a tour of the house by Christopher Edmondson and allowed to view and experience much of the history that surrounds the house. The house is a fine example of the period, still very much how it would have looked 400 years ago. An exquisite timber staircase is the central focal point of the house. Adorned with paintings collected by the Edmondson family since acquiring the house at the beginning of the 20th century, including the famous one of Robert Wintour and another of Sir Everard Digby. The main rooms retain their original paneling and flooring and a large collection of hunting paraphernalia covering over 400 years is liberally scattered throughout the house. On the third floor in the small chapel, we were given access to the priest hide created by Nicholas Owen. This is a double hide, where a second, smaller hide is hidden within the first. The object of this style being that any searchers would have been content at discovering a hide, although empty, and not proceeded further

We were also shown a quite remarkable memento from the Robert and Thomas era. Engraved into a window pane on the second floor are the signatures of the two brothers, reputedly made while the two were still young.

Apart from being the home of two of the plotters, Huddington played an important role in the aftermath of the plot, during their flight from the law. The conspirators and their dwindling band of followers arrived at Huddington around 2.00pm, the afternoon of 6 November 1605. Exhausted, they had little time to sleep and prepare. Around 3.00am, all those left went to confession before taking the sacremant at Mass, given by Father Hammond (alias Hart), then mounted their horses and left.

Legend has it that the ghost of Robert's wife, Gertrude (nee Talbot), still wanders the garden in a location known as 'Lady Wintours Walk', her restless ghost is said to be awaiting the return of Robert who supposedly arranged clandestine meetings between them while he and Stephen Littleton were on the run from the authorities.

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