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Bagshaw's 1846 Trade Directory of Derbyshire


BRETBY, a parish and well built village, 3 miles E. from Burton-upon-Trent, contains 1,505 acres of fertile land, 65 houses, and 265 inhabitants.  Population in 1831, 325; rateable value £2,104.  The Earl of Chesterfield is the sole owner, lord of the manor - which formerly was a portion of that of Repton - impropriator of the tithes, and patron of the church, of which the living is a donative; value £30 ; Rev. John Tetley Smith, B.A., incumbent.  It is a small structure, with a tower and 3 bells, and is very neatly fitted up.  At Domesday survey, the manor, which had belonged to Earl Algar, was part of the royal demesne.  It afterwards belonged to the Earl of Chester, and passed to the Seagraves with a part of the manor of Repton.  John de Seagrave, who was the king’s lieutenant in Scotland, and taken prisoner at the battle of Bannockburn, was summoned to parliament as a baron in 1295.  In 1300 he had the king’s license to castellate his mansion at Bretby.  Bretby castle passed with the manors to the Mowbrays - Lords Mowbray and Dukes of Norfolk.  One of the co-heiresses of this noble family brought Bretby to the Lords Berkley.  In 1585, the castle and manor of Bretby was purchased of the Berkeley family by Sir Thomas Stanhope, grandfather of Philip the first Earl of Chesterfield.  In the month of November 1642, the Earl of Chesterfield fortified his house at Bretby, and garrisoned it with 40 musketeers and 60 horse.  Sir John Gell having intelligence of it, sent 400 foot, with a party of dragoons, under the command of Major Molanus.  After a short defence, the Earl and his party fled through the park towards Litchfield, and the house was plundered.  The countess, who was the daughter of the loyal Sir John Packington, refusing to pay any composition to prevent it, declaring she would not give them one penny ; but the officers saved her own chamber with all her goods.  Philip, the second earl, resided much at Bretby. Bretby Castle, the site of which is discernable near the church, is said to have been a building of great strength, and consisted of two courts, and was standing in the reign of Queen Elizabeth.  The first Earl of Chesterfield is supposed to have erected a noble mansion at Bretby, of stone, with a curious chapel, in the midst of a large well wooded park, with gardens, fountains, labyrinths, groves &c., all said to have been peculiarly curious and pleasant, suitable to the genius of the owner, who was the chief contriver of them.  This mansion was taken down in the year 1780.  The present hall is a quadrangular castellated mansion, which had been several years in building, and was left unfinished at the death of its noble owner, in 1815.  The greater part of it had been fitted up and inhabited; the building has since been discontinued, and remains unfinished.  It has extensive pleasure grounds, terraces, gardens, &c. situated in the midst of a park containing upwards of 400 acres of land, well wooded, with varied and picturesque scenery.  On the east side of the house is preserved a venerable cedar of Lebanon, which, as appears by the gardener’s bill, in the Earl’s possession, was planted in the month of February, 1676-7.  It is probably the oldest cedar in England, for, according to Evelyn, the cedar had not been brought into this country in 1664.  It is one of the seats of its noble owner, George Augustus Frederick, Earl of Chesterfield.  The late Earl resided wholly at Bretby during the latter part of his life, and dedicated a considerable portion of his time to agriculture, having one of the most complete farming establishments in this part of England.  The chapel of Bretby with the tithes were parcel of the rectory at Repton, which belonged to the priory at that place.  It passed with one of the co-heiresses of Porte to the family of Hastings, and appears to have been brought to the Stanhope family by the marriage of the first Earl of Chesterfield with a daughter of Francis, Lord Hastings.  The Earl supports a free school for 24 boys and 24 girls, which had been established in 1806.

Chesterfield, Right Hon. George Augustus Frederick, Earl of, Bretby Hall
Allen John, wheelwright
Atkin John, house steward
Beel Thomas, groom
Black John, coachman
Bradford George, corn miller
Charlton John, police officer for Repton and Gresley hundred, Park gate
Clay Frances, schoolmistress
Fitchett Thos. plumber, glazier & shopkeeper
Jervase John Allen, schoolmaster
Marshall Mrs Ann, housekeeper, The Hall
Mason Charles, gamekeeper
Moon Wm. blacksmith
Morecroft Charles, wheelwright
Patterson John, head gradener
Ratcliffe Wm. wheelwright, h. Repton
Scattergood Thos. shoemaker
Taylor Thomas, training groom
Tetley William, joiner

FARMERS
Brunt Wm
Burton John
Falkner John
Falkner Thomas
Martin Wm
Mellor Jph. & John
Tissington Isaac
Wain John


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