Wootton Lodge was an elegant mansion situated on the site of what is now the estate on the corner of Church Road and High Street. The oldest part, which became the East wing of the later house, was 17th century but there would have been a building on the site prior to this date. In the later 19th century the house consisted of a Conservatory, Library, two Drawing Rooms, a huge Dining room and a full range of servants’ quarters on the ground floor. On the first floor there were seven main bedrooms, three smaller ones and a number of other rooms as well1
The site of Wootton Lodge is very ancient. Maps of the area in mediaeval times show a lodge existed at that time, and in approximately this location2
The lodge was the original Rectory3 whether or not this was the function of the earlier building we do not know. It occupied a much larger site than in modern times, around 17 ½ acres of meadow, lawn, pleasure grounds and kitchen garden, as well as a range of outbuildings. These included a five-room cottage, kennels and fowl house, piggeries, stable and coach houses and a cart house, carpenter’s shop and granary.
Much of the land was sold in the 20th century for housing.
The house as it was until its demolition in 1988, still contained the 17th century portions. Possibly the 17th century building was constructed at the same time as the manor house, which judging by the remaining buildings dated from this period.
We do know that it was the Rectory by the 18th century, possibly earlier. Rector Thomas Lisle, descendant of the manorial family, was said to haunt the building, descending the stairs at midnight dressed in clerical attire. The hall was known as the “haunted hall”, though in later times, the stairs having been moved seemed to have haunted only the landing. The last Rector to live there was Richard Walton White. He was a cousin of Isaac Walton of Complete Angler fame and relics of his cousin were said to have been kept at the Rectory. It would have been him who built the ballroom4. When Rev. Walton White died in 1854, his son, Francis White-Popham, became the patron, (1859-1875), Lord of the Manor, but did not wish to vacate the Rectory. Consequently, when he offered the living to Rev. Robert Hilton Scott5 he did so on condition that the new Rector should live in a new house to be built on a part of the estate. This was agreed and the Rectory was built in Church Road in 1856.
In 1888 he sold the Lodge to Capt. William Makant for £4000, buying it back in 1890 in order to exchange some glebe. He then resold it to Col. James Clapham Minto in 1891.
From 1891 to 1939 the property changed hands many times. An abstract of the property is held by Wootton Bridge Historical. The final listed owners of Wootton Lodge in March 1939 was Herbert Edward & Kathleen Johncox
The East and West wings of the Lodge were later in separate ownership and Dr. Kennedy bought the East wing, later the West wing, and also added the consulting room and surgery suite in 19366 Many of the Church Fetes from the 1940s through to the 70s took place at the Lodge.
By the time of its final sale the house contained seven major reception rooms plus service rooms on the ground floor, and ten bedrooms, with three bathrooms on the first floor.
Dr. Kennedy was in practice with Dr. Sim, who married Dr. Kennedy’s sister. Dr. Porteous joined the practice in 1948. Dr. Kennedy retired in 1980, and after his death in 1988.
The house having fallen into neglect and after various suggestions for reuse the site was finally purchased by North British Building Association. The house was demolished and seven blocks of flats built on the site in 1993.
1, 4, 6. Sales Particulars 1988
2. Charters of Quarr Abbey
3. St Edmund’s Church 1087-2000 AD
5. History of Wootton Church by Rev. Genower