History

Weston-under-Lizard, the administrative centre of the Bradford Estates has passed by family descent since the Middle Ages, having been owned successively by the de Westons, Peshales, Myttons, Wilbrahams, Newport, and Bridgeman families – Bridgeman being the family name of The Earl of Bradford and Viscount Newport. The principal family home, Weston Park and its landscaped park of 1,000 acres left family ownership following the death of the 6th Earl of Bradford in 1981. Weston Park was gifted to the nation by the 7th Earl of Bradford and, with funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, was vested in the Trustees of the Weston Park Foundation, an educational and conservation charity which is completely independent of the Bradford Estates.

Additions to the Estate

1500s - 1600s 

The Bridgeman family had originated in Devonshire, owning property close to Exeter, where Edward Bridgeman had been Sheriff of Exeter in 1565. His grandsonJohn Bridgeman (bapt. 1577-1652) followed a career in the Church but was also the founder of the modern family and their estates. Chaplain to King James I in 1605, he became Bishop of Chester in 1619, and also purchased the estates of Great Lever near Bolton and other lands at Farnworth, Bolton and at Lady Hall. The property at Great Lever was rich in minerals, especially coal.

 

1600s - 1700s

The Bishop’s and his wife Elizabeth Helyer’s son, Orlando (1608-1674), became a distinguished lawyer whose work paved the way for the conventions of leasehold and freehold property ownership. Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in 1660 and Keeper of the Great Seal of England from 1667, Orlando was created a baronet in 1660. His marriage in 1627 to the heiress Judith Kynaston, brought to the family the North Shropshire estates of Nesscliffe, Knockin, Kinnerley and Morton, whilst he also made purchases of the Castle Bromwich Estate in Warwickshire and of the lease of the Bowood Estate at Calne in Wiltshire. Bowood was purchased by his grandson but released by him in 1739 where after it became the seat of the Shelburne family, ancestors of the present Marquess of Lansdowne. 

Orlando also purchased the Rectory of Wigan, which the family retained into the 19th century, and derived benefit from the mineral rights that this brought with it. 

Sir Orlando Bridgeman 1st Bt.’s grandson, Sir John Bridgeman, 3rd Bt. (1667-1747) made a further advantageous union so far as the estates were concerned, since his marriage to Ursula Matthews of Blodwell Hall, Shropshire, brought large estates on the Welsh border into the Bridgeman family, including the great limestone escarpment at Llanymynech.

Sir John Bridgeman 1631-1710

1700s - 1800s

Before Sir Henry Bridgeman, 5th Baronet and 1st Baron Bradford [his son Orlando, 2nd Baron was created 1st Earl of Bradford of the second creation in 1815] (1723-1800) inherited Weston-under-Lizard via his mother, Lady Anne Newport daughter and eventual heiress of the 2nd Earl of Bradford of the first creation, in 1764, the Bridgeman family already owned a number of other estates in the heart of England and in the North West.

 

1800s - 1900s

In 1802, the death of the 7th and last Earl of Mountrath, a cousin of Orlando Bridgeman, the 1st  Earl of Bradford, brought the estate of Weeting in Norfolk to the family. 

Although this was promptly sold to the Angerstein family, ownership was retained of the other Mountrath possession of Walsall and, throughout the nineteenth century, with their land agents Peter Potter I and II, the Bradford family were responsible for the development of the modern town.

Numerous additions have been made to the core estate at Weston-under-Lizard, including the purchase of the Tong Estate in 1855 by the 2nd Earl of Bradford from the Durant family, the acquisition of Boscobel House and Estate by the 5th Earl of Bradford in 1918 (The House itself, together with the Royal Oak, gifted by the family to the nation in 1954), and also the purchase of the Wood Eaton Manor Estate by the 6th Earl of Bradford from the Morris-Eyton family in the mid-twentieth century.     
Lady Elizabeth Wilbraham 1631-1703