|A glimpse of Wootton Lodge||Grass snake|
|The emblem of Western Australia in North Staffordshire||Orchids in the woods|
|Calves in August 2006||The herd of deer in October 2004|
We discovered the spendour of Wootton Lodge and its beautiful park by accident. Setting off from Ellastone we walked over the Weaver Hills and descended towards Wootton. Entrance to the parkland is on well signposted paths and took us over a step-ladder stile to cross a high modern fence. Once inside the park we realised that the fence was to keep in the deer. The parkland is the finest I have seen with splendid and well cared for mature trees. There has been some new plantings, fully protected from the deer, and everywhere modern fences and kissing gates that have the advantage that they cannot be left open. There is a herd of red deer and on this walk we saw goldfinches, a little owl and a grass snake - the first I have seen in the wild.
The lodge can be glimpsed from the public footpath. Pevsner states that it was built between 1580 and 1611 for Sir Richard Fleetwood by Robert Smythson. It is reminiscent of Gawthorpe Hall near Burnley in Lancashire and Hardwick in Derbyshire with its large windows. During the Civil War the house was beseiged by the Parliamentarians and fell in two days. Sir Richard and his two younger sons, together with 70 other prisoners, were roped together and taken to Derby. Wootton Hall, which was a smaller mansion nearby, built for the Davenports, was where Rousseau lived for a year in 1766.
Sir Oswald Mosley rented Wootton Lodge in the late 1930s when he had secretly married Diana Mitford in Berlin and wanted a secluded residence. In recent years it has been owned by the late J. C. Bamford, of the earth moving firm, based in nearby Rocester. Mr. Bamford was very interested in conservation and south of the Lodge is a fine pool for wildfowl. Perhaps incongruously there is also a vehicle testing track on the site but at the weekend the site was peaceful. The paths are well marked and maintained and security men in the park are happy to point you in the right direction.
An article in County Life in 1910, noted that the Lodge was in the vicinity of two great houses, Wootton Hall and Calwich Abbey. At that time the author noted that although the house was built around 1600 it had many features typical of 1700 in the interior. It is built on the top of a large rock in an otherwise watery area. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the parish of Ellastone included the townships of Calwich and Wootton and belonged to the Fleetwood family.
The Buildings of England, Staffordshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner, Penguin,
1974, ISBN 0 14 071046 9
The King's England, Staffordshire, by Arthur Mee, Hodder and Stoughton, London, first published in 1937.
A Channel Four programme on 31 August 2003 Diana Mosley: Adolf, Oswald and Me showed pictures of Diana Mosley at Wootton lodge but did not name it, describing it only as a secluded house in Staffordshire.
County Life, June 1910, Wootton Lodge, the Residence of Colonel B. C. F. Heywood.