Webpage created: August 21, 2019
Webpage updated: August 21, 2019
Widey House in the ancient parish of Eggbuckland earned the right to be named a "Court" when in 1644 it was used by King Charles I, who held court here during the Civil War siege of Plymouth. It was owned at the time by Yeoman Heale. From here King Charles demanded the surrender of Plymouth.
Widey was first recorded in 1590-91 when Sir Francis Drake built two mills in the area in connection with his new leat from Dartmoor to Plymouth. In December 1643, during the already mentioned Civil War, Prince Maurice used it as his headquarters. King Charles was at Widey between 9th and the 14th September 1644, after which his rooms were neither used nor disturbed by anyone else. It is thought that the House was rebuilt between 1675 and 1699 and again considerably altered in the early 18th century before being enlarged in the 19th century.
During the Commonwealth period the House passed to the Morshead family, until circa 1810 when Elizabeth, daughter of Philip Morshead, married an officer in the Royal Engineers, Henry Anderson, who added the Morshead surname to his and became Henry Anderson Morshead. The house may have been "reversed" at some time and the front become the back.
'The Historical Residence Known as Widey Court' was offered for sale at the Royal Hotel, Plymouth, on Thursday August 4th 1921 in advance of the expiration of the lease on December 5th 1921. Owned by Mr John Yonge Anderson-Morshead, in whose family it had been for over 300 years, it was described as: 'Commanding a South aspect and a sheltered site at an elevation of about 330 feet above sea level standing in a beautifully timbered Miniature Park and approached by Two Carriage Drives about a mile long, guarded by Two picturesque Lodges, and embracing an area of about 53 acres 2 rods and 12 perches, Let as described in the Schedule hereunder at an Aggregate Rental of £339 0s 0d per annum, Exclusive of the annual value of the Woods, which are in hand'.
Widey Court itself consisted of an outer hall, 24 feet by 15 feet; an inner hall; corridor; two conservatories, 24 feet 6 inches by 22 feet 6 inches and 22 feet by 13 feet 8 inches respectively; a drawing room, 29 feet 6 inches by 19 feet 8 inches; a dining room, 29 feet 6 inches by 19 feet 8 inches; a morning room, 16 feet 9 inches by 15 feet; a library, 18 feet 6 inches by 14 feet 6 inches; a billiard room with entrance from the library; cloak room; lavatory; WC; main and secondary staircases; servery; servants' hall; kitchen; scullery; larder; pantry; boot hole; store room; and a laundry comprising three rooms and servants' WCs.
The first floor had eight bedrooms, three dressing rooms, a bathroom, a WC, day and night nurseries, housemaid's room and a linen room. On the attic floor were a further eight bedrooms, a box room and a store room. There were cellars in the basement for wine, coal and wood.
In the grounds there were stables consisting of two loose boxes; a two-stall stable and loose box; a harness room with loft over; a large coach house; dog kennels; two stores; a WC and a dairy.
There were also flower and vegetable gardens, a tennis lawn with a summer house, a rookery, and extensive woodland paths and walks 'amongst old-established woods of oak, beech and other trees'.
CLICK HERE for the outcome of the sale.
Just before the Second World War, when Commander William Evelyn Cavendish Davy RN was in residence, there was apparently a proposal to turn the House into a first class hotel but it did not come about. Widey was requisitioned in 1941 and used by the Plymouth City Police until 1945 and by the City Stores Department thereafter. It was vacated in 1950 and demolished in 1954. The site of Widey Court is now covered by Widey Primary School.
The bell from Widey Court was passed on to the Church of the Ascension at Crownhill.