‘Bedtime Stories’ – by Night Porter Tim Norton
Delving into the wealth of information on the internet, I have come across some new details about the earliest occupants of Ragdale Hall!
According to the official website of the Shirley family, this Hall was built by the 7th Earl Ferrers and not the 6th Earl who died in 1787. The 7th Earl was not happy living at the Shirley family seat of Staunton Harold near Ashby de la Zouch because of the large size of the house and the murder committed there by Laurence Shirley, the 4th Earl!
He liked Ragdale but the old Tudor built Hall was not ideal for full time occupation as it had been designed as a hunting lodge for occasional visits.
The only picture we have of the newly built Ragdale Hall on this site is dated 1799 and could possibly be its completion date. It was built in Georgian style with large buff concrete blocks with acres of parkland around. It is shown on a map contained in the largest ever book written about the history and antiquities of Leicestershire in 1804 as the seat of Earl Ferrers so I have to assume that he lived here.
The 7th Earl died in 1827 leaving the Ragdale estates to the illegitimate daughter of his son (who died before him), Caroline Shirley, who he had taken in and cared for after the loss of this son. She was then only 8 years of age and after the Earls death she was looked after by his friend, Charles Mundy, at Burton Hall.
The rest of the Shirley family did not agree with his will but its terms were carried out and both the old and the new Ragdale Halls, plus other lands belonging to Caroline Shirley (who went on to marry an Italian Duke) were leased out to various gentlemen, one of which was Colonel Hylton Jolliffe who will be my next subject.