In early 1933 (year of my birth) my father William (Bill) Miller was a postman in Atherstone. He told me that he cycled down the gravel drive of Grendon Hall to delivery a registered letter to the Clerk of Works. Workmen were onsite and were beginning to pull down one of the big chimneys and throwing bricks to the floor. He handed the letter to the man who read it and immediately ran out and waved his arms to stop the men continuing to demolish the building. The Clerk shouted to the workmen “Stop! It’s going to America… We need to number every stone” This is what I always understood had happened to the hall – rather than just being demolished, it was transported to America and presume that it was rebuilt.
Moving onto the site
In 1938, my Grandfather Frank Haynes and his wife Kathleen moved into the servants’ quarters of Grendon Hall that was all that was left standing, along with the stable block and walled garden. The estate now belonged to Mr Hannibal, CEO of British Industries Fair. My grandfather was employed to look after all aspects the estate – he was head gardener, groundskeeper, woodsman and general manager! The estate consisted of farms, 10 woods and the River Anker ran through it. At the same time my father William, mother Ida, and myself (Kenneth) and sister Gwyneth also moved into the top flat of the servants’ quarters. My sister Kathleen and brother John were both born here.
We lived there until August 1945 we we moved to Farm Lane. During the war we used the entrance of the Ice House as an air-raid shelter – sitting on benches made by my Granddad! One night, a German bomber was caught in the searchlights and dropped his bomb about one mile away in a field belonging to Mr Denson’s Farm. My friend and I went over the next morning to see the crater, which seemed to us to be about 50 feet deep and a terrific circumference.
Shooting in the woods
Mr Hannibal had a bungalow built adjacent to the servants quarters and used to visit at weekends, often bringing friends to shoot in the woods. One particular friend I remember that I met when I was a child was Mr Greener of Greener & Sons – shotgun makers of Birmingham. I took great delight in being on the drive when Mr Hannibal came in his car, because he always stopped the car, said “Hello Kenneth” and gave me a shilling.
Later in life, my grandfather moved into the Lodge at the top of the drive where he stayed until he died in 1961. I have wonderful memories of living on the Grendon Hall estate. I hope this may bring back memories to someone.