Decline and demolition
With the close of the Great War came the closing chapter of Weddington Castle. Following the end of the war, the Red Cross withdrew from Weddington Castle and it was put up for auction in 1919, although it failed to find a buyer.
In 1922 however, Henry Nigel Pole Shawe sold the Castle to Percy Harold Howe, for £7,000. Howe – an electrician by trade – intended to convert the castle into luxury flats, and on the 22nd September of that year plans were published to that effect, which also detailed plans to build houses on the Estate lands. Brief descriptions of the Castle were included in these plans: such as the entrance hall with polished oak floor (measuring 22′ x 11′); the library with polished oak floor (29′ x 19′); a marble chimney piece etc. The gardens’ gravel walks were described as being studded with 4 old cedars, a rose garden, glass houses, a vinery, a greenhouse and a peach house.
Rapid expansion of Nuneaton
Throughout 1922 the Shawe family lobbied for the Estate to be converted into a housing development and plans for this were extensively discussed at meetings during 1923 and 1924. Numerous objections were raised over the necessity for housing and the inadequacy of sewerage arrangements. With the rapid expansion of Nuneaton, such concerns were high on the priority list of the local authorities (indeed in 1930 one in ten houses in Nuneaton was classified as unfit to live in). Meanwhile, from November 1923 to July 1924, the Castle was converted into flats. This was to be the fate of many similar Halls in the area such as Lindley Hall and Caldecote Hall.
By the time Nuneaton incorporated Weddington in 1931, Weddington’s population had shot up to 643 and the area of the former parish of Weddington had by then grown to 881 acres. It is ironic that whereas in previous centuries migration of workers from Weddington to larger towns created the rural space for the Weddington Estate to develop; it was the expansion of workers’ accommodation in Nuneaton back into Weddingon in the 20th century, that led to its demise.
End of an era
It is worth noting at this point that this expansion was not restricted to the Weddington area, and from the 1920s onwards this scenario was to be repeated all around Nuneaton (and indeed around the country). This heralded the end of an era, and resulted in the decimation of a rich and varied collection of historical buildings in the Nuneaton area including Lindley Hall, and Attleborough Hall. Among the few buildings that have survived to the present day are the impressive Arbury Hall and Caldecote Hall (which is now converted to private flats). Others, such as Merevale Hall and Maxstoke Castle, survive as private residences.
Razed to the ground
Judging by a newspaper report from 1926, pilfering on the derelict Weddington estate was rife before it was demolished. In 1928, on the 6th July, a notice of sale appeared, and the announcement made that Weddington Castle was to be demolished. On the 19th October 1928 – after a rich and varied history going back almost 1,000 years – Weddington Castle was razed to the ground.
This is an abridged version of an article that appeared on the Weddington Castle website and is reproduced with their permission.