Bertie Greatheed (1759-1826) of Guy’s Cliffe (in this parish) was the son of Samuel Greatheed MP and his wife Lady Mary, whose maiden name was Bertie, the daughter of the 2nd Duke of Ancaster. He was baptised at St Mary’s Church in Warwick. He was a dramatist and wrote a tragedy play called The Regent, which was staged at Drury Lane Theatre in 1788, but was withdrawn after 9 nights. He was supported in this endeavour by the actress Mrs Siddons, who had once been an attendant to his mother and was a frequent guest at Guy’s Cliffe; he dedicated the subsequent publication of the play to her. Bertie also composed the wording for the plaque on Gaveston’s Cross, which commemorates the execution place of Piers Gaveston in 1312 on Blacklow Hill (south of Leek Wootton) and was visible from the manor house at Guy’s Cliffe. The source of his wealth was plantations on St Kitts in the Caribbean. He is recorded as owning around 20 slaves in 1822 and there is speculation that primitive carvings in one of the stable buildings at Guy’s Cliffe may have been carved by slaves. Bertie Greatheed was a prominent figure and landlord in Leek Wootton, Milverton and Warwick. He was heavily involved in the development of Leamington Spa (circa 1810), owning land that was developed on the west side of The Parade, encouraged investors in the development of the town and was a partner in the Pump Rooms. He died in 1826. He had adopted his mother’s surname, Bertie, into his surname and gives his name in his Will as Bertie Bertie Greatheed. His only son, also named Bertie had died in 1804 in Italy, but he had married in France and had a daughter, Anne Caroline, who was adopted by her grandparents and brought up in England as the heiress of Guy’s Cliffe.
Henry Christopher Wise was the great-great-grandson of Henry Wise of The Priory, Warwick, Royal Gardener successively to William III, Anne and George I. He inherited The Priory (now the location of Warwickshire County Record Office) in 1850 and had been renting Woodcote (the building currently owned by Warwickshire Police), since 1830. In 1851 he sold The Priory and 37 acres of adjoining land to the Oxford Junction Railway Company and bought Woodcote, which joined up with the remainder of The Priory estate.
During his ownership the estate was enlarged and improved, the old house was demolished, a new house built and gardens and pleasure grounds developed. He had six sons and two daughters by his first wife, but was survived by only two sons, George and Augustus (who was ‘an invalid’) and one daughter. George inherited the property in 1883, but on his death in 1888, it was entailed away to the descendants of Henry Christopher Wise’s sister, Catherine, due to Augustus’s poor health (he died in 1912 in a psychiatric asylum) and by-passing George’s paternal half-brother Eddie, who was in line to inherit the Disbrowe family estate in Derbyshire from a maternal maiden aunt.
During the Wise family’s time at Woodcote, they contributed to church and community life and George and Augustus established the Annual Flower Show in 1868, which continues to be one of the key events of life in Leek Wootton.
When George Wise died in 1888, Woodcote (now owned by Warwickshire Police), was inherited by Maj Gen George Henry Waller, the son of his father’s sister, Catherine, and a veteran of the Crimea War. He was married with four children, Margaret, Francis, Wathen and Edith.
In January 1892 his father, Sir Thomas, died and he inherited a baronetcy (originally bestowed on his grandfather Jonathan Wathen Waller, who was an eye surgeon to the Royal family and was present at the death of King George III). However, he died himself only 11 days later and the property and title were inherited by his son, Francis Ernest, who was aged 11 at the time.
Francis went on to join the Army and fought in the Boer War. He left the Army in 1908 and took up his duties as Lord of the Manor. He visited the elderly, the school (where he gave prizes and started races at sports events) and was a much loved squire. He was also a Magistrate, Deputy Lieutenant of the County and High Sheriff.
At the start of World War I he re-enlisted and was killed in October 1914, so his brother, Wathen inherited his land and title. He similarly resigned his commission in 1919 to devote himself to public works alongside his wife, Lady Viola.
When Sir Wathen Waller, Bt died in 1947, without issue, Lady Viola sold Woodcote to the County Council for police use and it became the Headquarters of the Warwickshire Constabulary. His title passed to his second cousin, Edmund Waller, the grandson of Sir Thomas’s brother, Ernest Adolphus.
The Wright family lived at Wootton Court (now called The Hayes), to the south of Leek Wootton, from 1882-1952.
It was purchased by industrialist Francis Beresford Wright, owner of the Butterley Company in Derbyshire, in the hope that the clean Warwickshire air would be beneficial to his wife, Adeline. Francis died in 1911 and Adeline in 1924, when Wootton Court was inherited by their son, Arthur Fitzherbert Wright.
After extensive refurbishment, Arthur, his wife Daisy and their nine children moved into the house in 1927.
During World War II Arthur and Daisy’s daughter-in-law, Doreen, wife of their eldest son, Gilbert, moved in to help look after them and their home. In 2012 the Leek Wootton History Group published Doreen’s wartime diary (please contact the history group if you are interested in buying a copy).
After Arthur’s death in 1952 the family sold the house and moved to Stone Edge, which overlooks Wootton Court.
Early in the new millennium, the house was converted into flats and its name reverted to The Hayes (it had been called The Hayes or Green Hayes prior to the Wright family’s ownership).